Greek Gods and Avatars in a new learning solution

Continuing on with our theme of sharing some of the most interesting research into learning, we’re going to take a detour into the world of Greek mythology today.

The Greek God Proteus was known for his power of assuming whatever shape he pleased and, from him, the adjective “Protean” has evolved to bring connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.

In a thoughtful set of studies, Nick Yee coined the term “The Proteus Effect” to describe a phenomenon he discovered – that the use of avatars can cause our own behaviour to change. In his experiments, participants watched how their avatars acted and subsequently changed their behavior to reflect the behavior of their avatars. In one study which focused on negotiations, participants whose avatars were shorter were more willing to accept less attractive offers compared to those whose avatars were taller. Or in other words, the taller avatars helped the participants feel more confident and they negotiated more effectively.

Age also plays a factor in helping us visualise our future self more vividly. In a study that was seeking to tackle the challenge of “we don’t save enough for retirement”, Hal Hershfield ran a series of experiments that tested whether seeing ourselves when we were older had any impact on our decisions about saving for retirement NOW. Participants who saw their future “older” self avatar allocated a higher percentage of pay to their retirement than those who just saw their “actual age” avatar.

These results are impressive and unleash a powerful new set of tools to help accelerate learning outcomes. At The Experience Accelerator, we have deployed the latest technology to bring the Proteus Effect to life. Imagine seeing your future leadership self in avatar form, performing the skill or behaviour you are trying to master! It’s a powerful and fresh way of learning foundational managerial skills at scale and at the fraction of the cost of more traditional methods. Do contact us for a demo: