There’s a thought-provoking entry over on Clive Thompson’s collision detection blog titled, “Why interactive websites can create false memories” (Link), which points to some research by Ann Schlosser (Link) that apparently contains an interesting twist for the marketing community. I’ve not yet read the paper, but Thompson has culled a clip that’s worth repeating here:
These findings suggest that marketing managers should test their campaigns for both true and false memories. Although it may seem advantageous for consumers to believe that a product has features that it actually does not have (e.g., by increasing store visits and purchases), it may ultimately lead to customer dissatisfaction. Because false memories reflect source-monitoring errorsâ€”or believing that absent attributes were actually presented in the marketing campaignâ€”consumers who discover that the product does not have these attributes will likely feel misled by the company.
The minute I read the title of his post I thought: how much more impact virtual world content can and will have on people. There are already stories of people with phobias and soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome using vr to assist in overcoming their difficulties. So like Thompson, I wonder about “false pools of knowledge” from virtual reality, but I also wonder about the inverse: the ability to communicate truthful and useful information in this way (though of course, Truth is such a difficult thing to define).
Fun stuff. I look forward to giving that paper a read in the near future as I suspect Ms. Schlosser will be repeating this experiment in 3D sometime soon. At least I hope she does.