Affordable Access

I am a Genius! Influence of Virtually Embodying Leonardo da Vinci on Creative Performance

  • GORISSE, Geoffrey
  • FLEURY, Sylvain
  • L´ECUYER, Anatole
  • RICHIR, Simon
  • CHRISTMANN, Olivier
Publication Date
Oct 02, 2023
SAM : Science Arts et Métiers


Virtual reality (VR) provides users with the ability to substitute their physical appearance by embodying virtual characters (avatars) using head-mounted displays and motion-capture technologies. Previous research demonstrated that the sense of embodiment toward an avatar can impact user behavior and cognition. In this paper, we present an experiment designed to investigate whether embodying a well-known creative genius could enhance participants' creative performance. Following a preliminary online survey (N = 157) to select a famous character suited to the purpose of this study, we developed a VR application allowing participants to embody Leonardo da Vinci or a self-avatar. Self-avatars were approximately matched with participants in terms of skin tone and morphology. 40 participants took part in three tasks seamlessly integrated in a virtual workshop. The first task was based on a Guilford's Alternate Uses test (GAU) to assess participants' divergent abilities in terms of fluency and originality. The second task was based on a Remote Associates Test (RAT) to evaluate convergent abilities. Lastly, the third task consisted in designing potential alternative uses of an object displayed in the virtual environment using a 3D sketching tool. Participants embodying Leonardo da Vinci demonstrated significantly higher divergent thinking abilities, with a substantial difference in fluency between the groups. Conversely, participants embodying a self-avatar performed significantly better in the convergent thinking task. Taken together, these results promote the use of our virtual embodiment approach, especially in applications where divergent creativity plays an important role, such as design and innovation.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times