"There is a considerable body of research showing that eye contact is a key component of social interaction. Not only are people more aroused when they are looked at directly, but if you consistently look at the person you speak to, you will have much more social influence over that person than you would if you averted your gaze....Since each individual's virtual experience is generated separately, in a "room" full of people, each person could experience the phenomenon of everyone else looking at them. Everyone can be the center of attention, all at the same time!"That's an interesting way to view things. I hadn't thought too much about that, since generally, simulations and games work hard to maintain game state world consistency.
But as we know from Horchow and Carnegie, people are interested mostly in themselves. Inconsistent realities to facilitate or even manipulate social interactions is both fascinating and a bit unnerving due to its immediate implications of social engineering, as most modern people in the western world in this day and age believe in free will.
However, I think it can certainly put to good use, especially in terms of customer service, to help make a customer feel like they are getting special and speedy attention. In the future, if there are Non-Player Characters who are store clerks in either augmented or virtual realities, a customer can have the benefit of seemingly personalized attention.
I can see this implemented in a physical store, where a customer walks in and an augmented store clerk helps them out. And if two customers, say two girls out shopping together, are listening to the same augmented store clerk, one can change the image to make it seem like the clerk is addressing them both at the same time.
As for the article's claim of gender differences, the sample size is pretty small, given only 6 male pairs and 6 female pairs for each of the 3 study groups. But the difference between genders are pretty significant in the graph...and I don't see any manipulation of the graph to make results seem more significant than they are offhand.