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Cybersickness More Likely to Affect Women

Accepted submission by hubie at 2023-05-19 12:18:09

Iowa State researchers in psychology and engineering found women experience cybersickness with virtual reality headsets more often than men []:

Psychology professor Jonathan Kelly [] studies human computer interaction, spatial cognition and virtual reality. He says gender discrepancies in cybersickness may not seem that important when it's related to video games and other forms of entertainment.

"But it's still a problem, and when VR gets to the point where it's a bigger part of job training or education in a classroom, it's even more important to make sure people can access this technology. If not, a lot of people are going to get left out, and there could be a backlash," says Kelly.

Like motion sickness, cybersickness can occur when there's a mismatch between visual motion and body motion. Symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, headaches and eye fatigue, usually resolve quickly after removing the headset. But in severe cases, they sometimes last for hours.

[...] As part of a larger study on adaptation [] to cybersickness, the ISU researchers recruited 150 participants to play up to 20 minutes of a VR game with a headset. The participants were new to VR and could stop if they felt too sick to continue. The researchers found women ended the game early twice as often as men and reported a sickness intensity that was 40% higher.

[...] For the second paper [], the researchers explored whether the distance between an individual's pupils could help explain the gender difference in cybersickness. VR headsets have an adjustable lens set-up to accommodate different users, but some people fall outside the range. The researchers found women participants on average had smaller distances between their pupils than men, but it did not predict whether they would get cybersick during the game.

What seemed to matter more was whether they had previous experience with motion sickness or screen sickness (e.g., feeling sick in movie theaters, while playing a video game.)

"Women reported experiencing more motion sickness and screen-based sickness than men, and this increased susceptibility is part of the reason that women experience more cybersickness," says Kelly.

Journal References:
    J. W. Kelly, S. B. Gilbert, M. C. Dorneich and K. A. Costabile, "Gender differences in cybersickness: Clarifying confusion and identifying paths forward," 2023 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW), Shanghai, China, 2023, pp. 283-288, doi: 10.1109/VRW58643.2023.00067 []
    T. A. Doty, J. W. Kelly, M. C. Dorneich and S. B. Gilbert, "Does interpupillary distance (IPD) relate to immediate cybersickness?," 2023 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW), Shanghai, China, 2023, pp. 661-662, doi: 10.1109/VRW58643.2023.00173 []

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