Social Science Experiments in Virtual Reality

Tue 4/16/2024 • 1PM - 2:30PM PDT

Charles E. Young Research Library, Main Conference Room, 11360


Presented by the UCLA Library and the Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences

Speaker: Aaron Kaufman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science at New York University, Abu Dhabi

Virtual Reality is a powerful technology with broad applicability to many domains: it is used in professional training for pilots, surgeons and the military; in academia, researchers in cognitive, developmental and social psychology use it productively. As VR hardware becomes cheaper and more accessible, it will expand to even more areas of professional life. This talk introduces the use of Virtual Reality as a tool for behavioral research in political science and economics, showing how VR compares favorably to both lab and field experiments across two recent applications.

The first application studies perspective-taking, a key component of building empathy and reducing discrimination and prejudice. Using a stray dog shelter as a case study, the VR interventions improve empathy more effectively than standard laboratory interventions, and nearly as effectively as field interventions at significantly lower cost. The second application develops a toolkit for inducing emotions using VR interventions paired with haptic, vibrotactile vests. VR interventions can produce emotions, especially fear, relaxation, and surprise, much more effectively than standard tools. In doing so, the long-standing relationships between those emotions and important political and economic outcomes fail to reproduce, particularly conservativism and risk aversion.

This talk will be held in person and via Zoom.

Light refreshments will be served.

#Educational #Research

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