A few years ago, researchers carried out work aimed at proving that virtual reality is capable of making humans more empathetic. According to them, virtual reality could remedy the loss of empathy engendered by technology in general.
A more intense immersion thanks to VR
With the help of new technologies and in particular social networks, it is now much easier to communicate with others. Nevertheless, by spending a considerable amount of time in front of the screens, which moreover is very often in an anonymous way, it is possible to lose your propensity for empathy, or the recognition and understanding of the feelings and emotions of another individual.
In a study published in the journal Plos One in 2018, researchers at Stanford University (United States) attempted to demonstrate that virtual reality (VR) was capable of rekindle the empathy of individuals. The study involved placing participants in the shoes of another person through a VR headset.
The experiment to which the volunteers were subjected is called Become homeless. Thus, they witnessed the first person to a job loss, a loss of housing and of course, the suffering and distress arising from these unfortunate events. According to the researchers, virtual reality indeed allows a much greater immersion than any other medium. The nature of this VR experience thus makes it possible to greatly reduce, or even completely eliminate, the distance generated by the technology.
An efficient experience
The researchers measured the psychological impact of the experience in question and observed the development of some compassion of participants towards the homeless. They then become more likely to help them. Fernanda Herrera, lead author of the study, explained in a statement become friends with a homeless person in her community (Latino) at the end of the work.
“Experiencing the situation of others in virtual reality generates in people just more empathy and prosocial behaviors after having lived the experience, compared to just imagining what it would be like to be in someone’s shoes. another, and it’s an exciting discovery” declared the researcher.