Unlocking Empathy: How VR Transcends Politics to Drive Donations for Refugee Crises

Pullman, Washington When political conservatives donned virtual reality headsets to see a video about Syrian refugees, their empathy for the people on screen was significantly higher than when they saw the same film on a two-dimensional computer screen.

Unlocking Empathy: How VR Transcends Politics to Drive Donations for Refugee Crises
VR: Bridging Politics, Fueling Refugee Crisis Donations

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A study on the topic published in New Media & Society found that conservatives who viewed the VR version of the documentary "Clouds over Sidra" had higher compassion levels and were thus more likely to give to the disaster.

After seeing both of the documentary's versions, liberal research participants expressed a great deal of sympathy and a desire to give. According to a study done by Washington State University, virtual reality (VR) technology may be able to unite disparate ideological viewpoints and change viewers' perceptions such that they are more compassionate and understanding of migrants. The study's findings may have an impact on groups working to inspire people to take action against human misery.

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"We aimed to investigate whether individuals' political beliefs would influence their emotional reaction to virtual reality, as this area has not received much attention," stated Porismita Borah, the study's principal author and a professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Education. "We discovered that individuals in the VR condition felt more compassion for refugees and were more likely to donate, regardless of their political ideology."

Borah and associates from WSU, Texas Tech, and Purdue University conducted a research to find out how VR technology affected a politically diverse group of people's compassion and understanding for migrants. Additionally, they examined how the research participants'