Trix in the mix

June 4, 2009

scientistHurrah for brainiak boffins! Not content with building full body scanners which can undress us from a safe distance, now – according to the New Scientist (link here) – two scientists have found a way to “switch the apparent gender of volunteers talking to each other through video conference software”.

Volunteers were asked to chat to one another in a video conference, but did not know if the face they saw was really that of the person they were talking with – or indeed if the other volunteer was seeing their own true face.

The results suggest that our body language during conversation is more reactive to that of others than it is to their physical appearance, says [computer scientist Barry-John] Theobald. “We’ve shown you can present a female as herself or as a male, and the other participant’s behaviour doesn’t change,” he says. The results will soon be published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Next, the team plans to use the system to test the effects of changing someone’s race instead of their gender.

It’s unclear whether there’s a genderqueer option or if choices are limited to the traditional gender binary.


PowerPoint presentations will never seem the same again.

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