Researchers from IDIBAPS and the University of Barcelona developed a virtual reality system so that men who committed a domestic violence crime can get into the victim’s shoes. The study, published in Scientific Reports, shows that these violent people have a lack of emotional recognition and that virtual experience improves the participant’s perception of emotions.
On February 22, the results of the study were presented in an event in which the following participants took part: Professor Elías Campo, director of IDIBAPS; Mavi Sánchez Vives, coordinator of the study and ICREA researcher in IDIBAPS, where she leads the Systems Neuroscience team; Mel Slater, director of the Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology (Event Lab) in the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Barcelona and co-author of the study; and Sofia Seinfield, first signer of the study and researcher at IDIBAPS and Event Lab.
Violent acts to other people are related to a lack of empathy or the abuser’s difficulty to put him/herself on the victim’s shoes. Although there are studies that prove that violent people have difficulties in identifying emotions like fear or rage, there are some discrepancies due the used methodology to determine empathy and ethical problems these studies present.
The published study in Scientific Reports provides a new view on the study of empathy and aggressiveness in violent people, since it allows participants to experiment in person a virtual situation of violence from the victim’s perspective. The study is based on studies in which thanks to immersive virtual reality, participants receive a virtual body that replaces theirs. “Virtual bodies can be drastically different from the participant’s, but even so, the individual goes under a strong subjective illusion of owning the virtual body. These illusions have an impact on the participant by altering perceptions, attitudes and behaviour”, said Mavi Sánchez Vives.
The impact of changing the perspective in domestic violence
The main objective of the study was to research on some of the mechanisms of a certain kind of violent behaviour: domestic violence. Researchers analysed the impact of this immersive virtual reality in the recognition of emotions in two kinds of people, abusers and control participants. Before and after of the virtual reality session, participants, twenty offenders and nineteen control people, took a test on emotional recognition to determine whether the experience would change their perception and empathy.
In the session, participants entered a virtual atmosphere in which their body was replaced by that of a virtual woman, and they underwent a process of assimilation and identification of their virtual self. Then they saw a virtual man who entered the scene and displayed a violent behaviour, both in gestures and language, who took the victim’s personal space progressively. “The atmosphere is interactive, since the abuser looks at the participant’s face and shouts ‘shut up!’ when speaking, or ‘look at me!’ if looking elsewhere”, said Mel Slater, co-author of the study.
The results show that offenders have a significant lower ability to recognize fear in a woman’s face compared to the control people. “After experiencing themselves as the victim, in the virtual reality session, the ability to realize about that fear improved”, said Sofia Seinfield, first author of the article.
“In this study we show, for the first time, that changing aggressive people’s perspective with immersive virtual reality, processes like emotion recognition can be modified. And it is thought these lie behind that violence”, said Mavi Sánchez Vives, coordinator of the study.
Learn more: Virtual reality improves offenders’ empathy
The Latest on: Empathy
- Empathy Has Lost Its Way on February 18, 2019 at 11:44 pm
Please note that the posts on The Blogs are contributed by third parties. The opinions, facts and any media content in them are presented solely by the authors, and neither The Times of Israel nor ... […]
- Reading Fuels Empathy. Do Screens Threaten That? on February 18, 2019 at 10:40 am
Reading changes our brains. Beyond allowing humans to gather and synthesize new information, research shows it is key to cultivating empathy in individuals, too. One study finds this to be particularl... […]
- Don’t be lonely at the top: Show a sense of trust, connection, empathy, and respect on February 18, 2019 at 8:57 am
Don’t be lonely at the top: Show a sense of trust, connection, empathy, and respect Don’t be lonely at the top: Show a sense of trust, connection, empathy, and respect Check out this story on floridat... […]
- It's Pisces season, so bring on the empathy and emotions on February 18, 2019 at 6:00 am
On February 18th, we’re zooming out of the futuristic and benevolent world of Aquarius and arriving in dreamy, feely Pisces season, where we will stay until March 20th. As the twelfth and last ... […]
- H&R Block agents took ‘empathy training’ to handle people upset by smaller tax refunds or surprise tax bills on February 16, 2019 at 6:31 am
Some tax return preparers are doubling as therapists this tax season, comforting clients who are dismayed to find that they will get smaller tax refunds — or worse, will get hit with unexpected tax bi... […]
- A Thrilling Adventure Book that Teaches Boys Empathy on February 15, 2019 at 3:12 pm
My five-year-old son and I have started reading chapter books. Well, I’ve been reading them, aloud, while he listens! Regardless, I’m so impressed with the book, The Tale of Despereaux, by ... […]
- ‘The Nightingale’ Director Jennifer Kent Says Empathy is ‘Fast Disappearing’ (Video) on February 14, 2019 at 6:35 pm
The latest film “The Nightingale” from Jennifer Kent, the Australian director who broke out with the horror film “The Babadook,” is a brutal, violent film, but also one that encourages a feeling of un... […]
- Adam Smith's hidden hand of empathy on February 14, 2019 at 10:47 am
Is the term “socialist” losing its sting in American politics? President Trump is targeting potential 2020 opponents with it. But across Western democracies, a search is under way for answers to a pro... […]
- Apparently, White People Need 'Grace' and 'Empathy' From Black People on February 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm
When I was a kid, my uncle James, whom we called “Junior,” owned a Rottweiler named Duchess. Duchess was huge, well-trained and house-broken but my mother and sisters were all afraid of dogs, so it wa... […]
- MDMA Users Have More Empathy Than People Who Take Other Drugs on February 12, 2019 at 6:17 am
If you’ve ever seen someone in a club on MDMA, it may not surprise you to hear it’s linked to a heightened ability to share other people’s feelings and emotions. Yet in our new study, we found that ev... […]
via Google News and Bing News