Research Topic

Non-traditional Methodologies for Social Change and Health Prevention: Game-, Music- and Theatrical-Based Interventions

About this Research Topic

Complex social issues are often inaccessible for numerous reasons (e.g., fear, psychological reactance), but through enacted experiences individuals are able to access attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with mitigated negative consequences. In these spaces, individuals are transported to fictional yet probable ...

Complex social issues are often inaccessible for numerous reasons (e.g., fear, psychological reactance), but through enacted experiences individuals are able to access attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with mitigated negative consequences. In these spaces, individuals are transported to fictional yet probable worlds (via persuasive narrative) and engage in role-playing as a mechanism of change rehearsal. In this way, experientially-based methodologies function as communicative channels that stimulate cognitive, emotional, and physical engagement.

While traditional entertainment-education models may serve to explicate how two-fold media—media with the purpose to teach and persuade—might enhance attitudinal and behavioral change, the process of actively constructing the learning experience through, for instance, problem solving, elaboration, and other key factors make serious games, music, and theater different than other strategies. Recent studies have demonstrated that by providing participants with an immersive experience, a deeper understanding of complex social and health issues is possible, and that this understanding extends beyond game-play or performative sessions and serves to influence an individual’s attitudes and behaviors in real-life contexts. Furthermore, these methods help to meet real-life motivational needs, such as autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which help to impact attitudinal and behavioral change. In this way, nontraditional methods function as communicative channels that stimulate cognitive, emotional, and physical engagement and present individuals access to environments rich with new understandings that might be otherwise inaccessible and result in creating ‘lived experiences.’ This Research Topic focuses on the innovative ways serious games, music, and theater address complex social issues by detailing the research and design practices, theoretical frameworks, and applied strategies. Additionally, core mechanisms of nontraditional methods and their roles as attitudinal and behavioral change agents are addressed.

The proposed Research Topic would include global scholars and practitioners in that specialized in non-traditional methodologies. Beyond the inclusion of research articles on and about games, music, and theater, this collection of peer-reviewed articles will highlight theoretical foundations, mechanisms and processes, and participatory approaches (community-based participatory research) of experientially-based interventions/campaigns for social change. Special attention will be brought to the multilevel forces that impact how people experience their surroundings and shape decision-making, specifically around salient health issues.

Sub-areas considered within this Research Topic, include, but are not limited to:

A. Understanding nontraditional methodologies/experiential learning opportunities. Historical overview of games, simulations, art, theater, music as communicative tools of/for intervention.
B. Key social impact mechanisms and processes. Current trends: Digital and analog platforms, the when and why of each approach.
C. Broader impacts. Nontraditional methods as system disruptors of the status quo/social change; health games and distribution of health information; Music as therapy and music for therapy.
D. Theory-driven.
E. The role of foundational theoretical constructs. Identification, transportation, and perceived similarity, inter-group dynamics, motivation, persuasive effects, narrative (storytelling), learning, etc.
F. Participatory and interdisciplinary design/development. Merging visual, text-based, audio, performative, and interactive communication efforts; pluridisciplinary teams; participatory action and/or community-based participatory research.
G. Ethics and unintended consequences.
H. Application, implications, and evaluation. Understanding and assessing fit/implementation climate; training tools and behavioral change; and applied researchers and community members as active
and purposeful contributors.
I. The future of nontraditional methods.


Keywords: : serious games, experiential learning, social change, health communication, participatory


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

05 May 2020 Manuscript
30 August 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

05 May 2020 Manuscript
30 August 2020 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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