The Psychology of walking The Plank

Pretty much my go to app whenever I am showing someone the Vive for the first time is Richie’s Plank Experience. It’s just too much fun to watch how different people react to being immersed in a world where you ride an elevator to the top floor of a tower block only to have the door open and a sole plank set out before you.

I have found that around 50% of the adults that I have shown this too actually can’t do it! Those that do often exhibit fear, lack of balance and anxiety. It’s surreal and demonstrates the power of a fully immersive experience. In some cases I have even held hands with the victim/volunteer or stood shouting at them “It’s not real!” but they still walk as if the floor below them has melted away and there is only the plank.

So it seemed appropriate to take this little experiment further and so I coordinated a session with the Psychology Department at JESS Sixth Form. A group of IB students and one teacher took turns trying the experience and then reflecting on the way their brains were playing tricks on them.

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