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Transformative experience design

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Learn how virtual reality, brain-based technologies and the language of arts can be used to support transformative experiences, that is, emotional experiences that promote deep personal change.

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Transformative experience design

  1. 1. Symposium on: Transformative Experience Design Using virtual reality, brain-based technologies and the language of arts to support self-transcendent experiences 1Andrea Gaggioli, Ph.D. Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  2. 2. Can technology be designed to support transformative experiences? 2
  3. 3. Transformative experiences • There are experiences in life that are able to generate profound and long- lasting shifts in core beliefs and attitudes • As noted by Miller and C’de Baca, these experiences able to produce a deep and enduring restructuration of one or more personal dimension • A transformative experience can change not only what individuals know and value, but also how they see the world
  4. 4. 4 In outer space you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch!". Edgar D. Mitchell, Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 14
  5. 5. The transformative experience of Viktor Frank <<One day, a few days after the liberation, I walked through the country past flowering meadows, for miles and miles, toward the market town near the camp (...) there was nothing but the wide earth and sky and the larks’ jubilation and the freedom of space. I stopped, looked around, and up to the sky-and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world I had but one sentence in mind-always the same: ‘‘I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and He answered me in the freedom of space.’’ How long I knelt there and repeated this sentence memory can no longer recall. But I know that on that day, in that hour, my new life started. Step for step I progress, until again I became a human being.>> 5 Viktor Frank (1963, pp. 141-42)
  6. 6. Varieties of transcendent experiences A mental state of focused absorption in an interesting and challenging task Flow A profound and overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration for something vast and difficult to accommodate Awe Experiences involving intense feelings of “merging with the universe”, wholeness, unity, and integration Peak experiences Moral emotions Positive emotions generated by the connection with something greater than ourselves (i.e., elevation, compassion, admiration, gratitude) Experiences in which the sense of self can fall away entirely, creating a distinction- less sense of unity with one’s surroundings Mystical experiences Experience characterized by “ego-less”, moment-to- moment, open, nonjudgmental awareness Mindfulness Yaden et al., (2017, May 1). The Varieties of Self-Transcendent Experience. Review of General Psychology 21 (2), 143-160.
  7. 7. Key questions for TED • What are transformative experiences? • Which are the neuro-cognitive signatures of «quantum change»? • What are the antecedents and consequences of transformative experiences? • Can transformative experiences be «invited» or «facilitated» using emerging technologies, like VR/AR, AI and brain-based tools? 7Gaggioli et al. (2016). Transformative Experience Design. In: Gaggioli, A, Ferscha, A,. Riva, G, Dunne, S, Viaud-Delmon, I. (eds.) Human Computer Confluence. De Gruyter: Berlin
  8. 8. 8 Paul, L. A. (2014). Transformative Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press EPISTEMICALLY- TRANSFORMATIVE The only way to know what it is like to have it is to have it yourself E.g.: trying a fruit you’ve never tasted before; seeing a color for the first time PERSONALLY- TRANSFORMATIVE It changes your point of view, including your core preferences E.g.: Examples: having a child; taking a college course TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE Kinds of transformative experiences
  9. 9. The transformative potential of VR 9 Can VR support epistemically- transformative experiences? à the only way to know what it is like to have it is to have it yourself VR allows simulating “possible worlds” and “possible selves”: Using VR, it is possible to know «what is like to be a bat» from a first-person, subjective perspective Can VR support personally-transformative experiences? à if it changes your point of view, including your core preferences Can VR support transformative experiences? à if it is both epistemically and personally transformative VR has shown significant potential as a tool to promote personal change in several clinical applications The potential of VR as a transformative experience technology in clinical and wellbeing applications is still unexplored Gaggioli et al. (2016). Transformative Experience Design. In: Gaggioli, A, Ferscha, A,. Riva, G, Dunne, S, Viaud-Delmon, I. (eds.) Human Computer Confluence. De Gruyter: Berlin
  10. 10. 10Gaggioli et al. (2016). Transformative Experience Design. In: Gaggioli, A, Ferscha, A,. Riva, G, Dunne, S, Viaud-Delmon, I. (eds.) Human Computer Confluence. De Gruyter: Berlin The exposure to novel information (i.e. awe- inducing stimuli) triggers the process of assimilation. If integration fails, the person experiences a critical fluctuation that can either lead to rejection of novelty or to an attempt to accommodate existing schema, eventually generating new knowledge structures and therefore producing an epistemic expansion A model of transformational change
  11. 11. VR AWE CONTENT PRESENCE HIGHEST INTENSITY AWE VR is an effective medium for inducing intense feelings of awe in the lab Chirico, A., Cipresso, P., Yaden, D., Biassoni, F., Riva, G., Gaggioli, A. (2017). Effectiveness of Immersive Videos in Inducing Awe: An Experimental Study. Scientific Reports 7(1).
  12. 12. 12 PSYCHOLOGY Neuro-cognitive models of self-transcendence experiences • Awe • Flow • Peak experiences • Moral emotions • Mystical experiences • Altered states of consciousness • (…) ART Use the language of arts to create contents that invite/facilitate self-transcendence experiences • Visual arts • Music • Poetry • Narratives and storytelling • (…) TECHNOLOGY Use advanced simulation and neurotechnologies to deliver powerful self- transcendence experiences • VR, AR • Brain stimulation • Biofeedback • Neurofedback • Neurotechnology • (…) TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE DESIGN
  13. 13. BourdinP,BarberiaI,OlivaR,SlaterM(2017)AVirtual Out-of-BodyExperienceReducesFearofDeath.PLOSONE12(1): e0169343. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169343 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169343 Near-Death Experiences in VR In 2007, O. Blanke co-authored a Science paper showing that the possibility of creating a full body ownership illusion, and a subsequent out-of-body experience, using VR In a recent study, by Bourdin et al (2017) used this paradigm to test how fear of death might be influenced by an OBE Fear of death in the experimental group was found to be lower than in the control group
  14. 14. http://www.themachinetobeanother.org/
  15. 15. The exaptation of neuro-technologies • In the field of biology, Stephen Jay Gould defined “exaptation” the process in which a feature acquires a function that was not acquired through natural selection • Likewise, the ongoing exaptation of neuro-technologies to the digital consumer market may lead to the rise of a novel “neuro-experience economy”, in which digital transformation of personal experience is the main product Gould, S.J., Vrba, E. (1982) Paleobiology, 8, 4-15
  16. 16. Re-combinant technologies for personal transformation Gaggioli, A, Ferscha, A,. Riva, G, Dunne, S, Viaud-Delmon, I. (eds.) (2016) Human Computer Confluence. De Gruyter: Berlin
  17. 17. Taxonomy of transformative interaction paradigms Hyper-presence (alteration of sense of presence) Hyper-interaction (alteration of sense of agency) Hyper-cognition (augmentation of cognitive processes) Hyper-embodiment (altered embodiment and re-embodiment) Sense of space and time, sense of "being there" Blended spaces, virtual reality, substitutional reality, paradoxical reality, inter- reality (…) Sense of agency, intersubjectivity, social presence Brain-Computer Interface, brain-to-brain interface, social cybernetics Sensory, perceptual, cognitive, affective Perceptual prosthetics, cognitive prosthetics, emotional prosthetics, brain stimulation (…) Sensori-motor integration, body schema, Embodiment, re-embodiment, symbiotic body, human- robotic confluence Target experience Target neuro-cognitive process Interaction paradigm
  18. 18. Applications? We are moving into the «transformation» economy… TED
  19. 19. The interest towards personal transformation technologies is growing
  20. 20. Caveats & challenges • Need for theoretically-refined accounts of transcendent experiences • Mixed methods are key to address the complexity of the topic (i.e., Varela’s neurophenomenology) • Challenges (but also opportunities) in building common ground among psychologists, interaction designers and artists 20
  21. 21. Related work • Buie, Elizabeth (2018) Exploring Techno- Spirituality: Design strategies for transcendent user experiences. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University • Chittaro, L., & Sioni, R. (2018). Existential video games: Proposal and evaluation of an interactive reflection about death. Entertainment Computing, 26, 59-77 21
  22. 22. Conclusion 22 • Transformative Experience Design is concerned with designing interactive experiences that support transcendent experiences, such as awe and wonder • All in all, it aims at understanding how interactive technologies could be designed for the fulfillment of more essential psychological – and spiritual needs, beyond “utilitarian” or “entertaining” purposes
  23. 23. Session Symposium 1 23 Transformative Experience Design Using virtual reality, brain-based technologies and the language of arts to support self-transcendent experiences
  24. 24. A framework for studying Transformative Experiences through VR Katerina holds a B.Sc. Cognitive Science and is MSc Student in Interactive Arts & Technology. She has a diverse research background in Cognitive Science, Developmental Psychology, Anthropology and Human-Computer Interaction. She is interested in exploring the unique potential and affordances of emerging technologies, and how to leverage them to create profound and meaningful experiences fostering the feeling of connection and leading to a healthier and more caring society. Her training in partner dance and acting inspired some of her work. Katerina Stepanova Simon Fraser University
  25. 25. Inside-out: conceptual design and prototype of a system for the automatic generation of emotional metaphors in virtual reality Andrea is Associate Professor of General Psychology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. His main research focus is on Positive Technology, a topic that seeks to understand how interactive technologies can be used to foster positive emotions, personal growth, creativity, and social connectedness Andrea Gaggioli Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  26. 26. Going Beyond: Lucid Dreaming as a Lens into Transformative Experience Design for VR Alex holds a B.Sc. Cognitive Systems and she is PhD student in Interactive Arts & Technology. Her research interests involve using an interdisciplinary approach to understand human perception and behaviour, and employing technology as a medium to explore the human psyche, create better human-computer interfaces, and provide clinical applications. She has worked with and taught courses on virtual reality for over five years. Outside of academia, she volunteers for a crisis centre and is an avid lucid dreamer. Alexandra Kitson Simon Fraser University
  27. 27. Virtual Reality and the Continuum of Self- transcendence: From Flow Experience to the Emotion of Awe Alice holds a M.Sc. Psychology and is currently completing her Ph.D in Psychology. Her doctoral thesis concerns the potential of virtual reality and music for inducing self- transcendent emotions and promote transformative change. Alice’s research interests also include psychophysiology of emotions, flow and creativity. She is also a music performer. Alice Chirico Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  28. 28. References 1. Gaggioli et al. (2016). Transformative Experience Design. In: Gaggioli, A, Ferscha, A,. Riva, G, Dunne, S, Viaud-Delmon, I. (eds.) Human Computer Confluence. De Gruyter: Berlin 2. Riva G., Banos R.M., Botella C., Mantovani F., Gaggioli A. (2016) Transforming Experience: The Potential of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for Enhancing Personal and Clinical Change. Frontiers in Psychiatry (2016) 7:164. 3. Yaden et al., (2017, May 1). The Varieties of Self-Transcendent Experience. Review of General Psychology. Review of General Psychology 21 (2), 143-160. 4. Yaden, D.B., Iwry, J., Slack, K.J., Eiechstaedt, J.C., & Vaillant, G.E. (2016). The Overview Effect : Awe and Self-Transcendent Experience in Space Flight. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice Vol. 3, No. 1, 1–11 5. Chirico A., Glaveanu V.P., Cipresso P., Riva G., & Gaggioli A. Awe Enhances Creative Thinking: An Experimental Study. Creativity Research Journal (2018) 30:2,123-131 28
  29. 29. ‘‘Only mystery enables us to live, only mystery’’ Federico Garcia Lorca 29

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