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Posture Could Explain Why Women Get More Vr Sickness Than Men

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A woman using a virtual reality headset.

Researchers are investigating why women experience motion sickness in virtual reality more than men.

Credit: Getty Images

New studies explore why women experience more motion sickness than men while using virtual reality (VR).

University of Minnesota professor Thomas Stoffregen and colleagues ran experiments on 36 people--half of them men, half of them women--using the Oculus Rift headset. A game that involved taking a virtual stroll around a haunted house triggered feelings of sickness in 14 of the 18 women and only six of the 18 men. Participants who reported experiencing VR sickness showed a wobblier posture.

Stoffregen says women tend to be smaller than men, have a different body shape, and have smaller feet than men of comparable height. "In a purely physical sense, there's reduced stability in the female body, so there's an increased likelihood that any sort of disturbing motion stimulus will lead to instability," Stoffregen says.

However, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Bas Rokers says it is a commonly held belief that motion sickness is caused when your senses provide conflicting information; his team found people are more likely to experience motion sickness when their eyes tell them something different than their balance system. "And, on average, women are better at picking subtle visual differences than men, when taken as a group," Rokers says.

From New Scientist
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