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In a paper recently published in the PLOS ONE Journal, Stanford University researchers explained that augmented reality can change human behavior, even long after the experience.

The research team led by Jeremy Bailenson conducted three experiments on more than 250 subjects to gather findings on how people actually engage with AR experiences, and what the implications of that mean for AR Designers.

“We’ve discovered that using augmented reality technology can change where you walk, how you turn your head, how well you do on tasks, and how you connect socially with other physical people in the room,” said Bailenson, who co-authored the research with graduate students Mark Roman Miller, Hanseul Jun, and Fernanda Herrara.

The key takeaways ? We are likely to interact with virtual people in AR in similar ways to real life – including feeling inhibitions if we feel watched or observed. In interactions, proximity and language can powerfully effect outcomes. The technology can also make an experience feel less connected, in particular a merged experience where some are participating in an AR layer, and others are not.

Bailenson noted that the study “only scratches the surface of the social-psychological costs and benefits of AR use.”

The paradigm of storyteller performing for audience is bent by AR. Now the audience is involved in the story. It unlocks powerful potential. AR provides the channel for creating fantastic consumer>brand connections, from a retail or brand building standpoint. It also provides an incredible production layer for whole, immersive storytelling environments like museums and visitor centers. I take part in a lot of agency discussion around beneficial use of AR.

Studies like this really provide some fundamentals.

As we all move toward wide implementation of AR in experiential environments, retail, and architectural planning success will be depend on this deeper understanding.