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Virtually One: Using VR to Increase Empathy in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

dc.contributor.advisor Murphy, Karen
dc.contributor.advisor Thompson, Robert Jr
dc.contributor.advisor Seaman, Bill Lauder, Eliana 2019-05-03T18:13:56Z 2019-05-03T18:13:56Z 2019-05-03
dc.description.abstract Two cameras were sent to two 23-year-old boys living parallel lives in Tel Aviv, Israel and Ramallah, Palestine. Each of them filmed a full day of their lives from the first-person perspective while narrating their story. These videos were given to Palestinian and Israeli study participants in Jerusalem to watch through a virtual reality headset (with the exception of 10 control participants who watched the video on a computer screen). This study analyzes their response to these videos and thus the degree to which a VR experience has the power to elicit an empathic response in a region of extreme social polarization and turbulent conflict. Empathy was measured behaviorally, attitudinally and altruistically across five markers: strength of personal identification to ingroup, prejudice towards the outgroup, positive affect associated with the outgroup, degree of perceived similarity to the outgroup, and openness to social proximity with outgroup members in the future. The results of this study showed that when the 3-minute video was viewed from the first-person perspective in virtual reality, all empathy markers increased, and strength of personal identity group and prejudice markers decreased (which was not the case in the control condition). This study has powerful implications for the potential of this technology to bring unlikely peoples together through perspective-taking in the face of deepening societal rifts that challenge our world today. This study has been done in hopes of spurring a conversation about our shared humanity and this technology’s potential for good.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject Empathy
dc.subject Virtual Reality
dc.subject Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
dc.subject Prosociality
dc.subject Social Distance
dc.subject Empathy- Altruism
dc.subject Virtual Reality Perspective-Taking
dc.title Virtually One: Using VR to Increase Empathy in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
dc.type Honors thesis
dc.department Psychology and Neuroscience
duke.embargo.months 0

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