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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01242

A Virtual Reality Simulation of Drug Users' Everyday Life: the Effect of Supported Sensorimotor Contingencies on Empathy Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

  • 1Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
  • 2Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies (RISE), Cyprus

Perspective taking techniques have been used to transport people into imaginary situations and the lives of others. Virtual Reality provides an immersive way to virtually experience the lives of stigmatized by society members. Through the support of sensorimotor contingencies, people can use natural movements to view and interact with the virtual world around them. In this study, we compared a perspective-taking immersive Virtual Reality system which supports a number of sensorimotor contingencies (SC group) with a perspective-taking desktop system of the same application but with a minimum support of sensorimotor contingencies (NSC group), to investigate the effect of the supported sensorimotor contingencies in promoting empathy and positive attitudes toward drug users. Results demonstrate a strong correlation between closeness to the drug user and empathy in the SC group. In both groups there were a within group significant change in their reported attitudes before and after their exposure. Finally, participants in the SC condition reported significantly higher levels of place illusion, body ownership, agency and plausibility of people. Further research is needed to investigate how sensorimotor contingencies can be exploited to the fullest to be used as an effective method to induce empathy and change attitudes towards stigmatized by society people.

Keywords: virtual reality, Empathy, Perspective-taking, Attidudes, Sensortimotor Contigencies

Received: 24 Dec 2019; Accepted: 12 May 2020.

Copyright: © 2020 Christofi, Michael-Grigoriou and Kyrlitsias. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Despina Michael-Grigoriou, Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Limassol, Cyprus, despina.grigoriou@cut.ac.cy