Empathy through VR

I’ve always been weary/skeptical whenever someone proclaims that a product or project “facilitates empathy” as that term seems to be thrown around often. As someone now making a project where I’m trying to do the same however, I know it’s no easy feat. But as I checked out the Empathetic Media site etc, I thought about my only Google Cardboard experience that my roommate had me try out; I found myself in the middle of a riot/march for the Freddie Gray killing and it was an incredible immersive experience for me. The street bustling with fire, screaming citizens, armed police etc felt like my authentic reality. I found myself twice as empathetic and emotional towards something I had ALREADY cared about. For me, experiences like that are powerful and effective, but I often wonder just how far these things can be pushed ? How much empathy does it create and does that empathy lead to anything else ? Change? Dialogue ? Is there any way to control someone’s empathy ? How can these tools be leveraged for a larger more complicated context? I think there is so much rich potential here, but it doesn’t seem as heralded as I’d imagine.

One thought on “Empathy through VR”

  1. Interesting comments and questions. To pick up on your question about whether or not its possible to control someone’s empathy, consider the implications of why the US government is funding this research.

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