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Virtual Reality as a Tool to Combat Racism?

A recent study out of the University of Barcelona has produced some interesting results. Scientists there have been experimenting by testing subject’s implicit racial biases, then exposing them to a virtual reality simulation in which they experience the body image of a different race. After the simulation, the subject’s implicit racial bias is again tested. The subjects exposed to the virtual reality simulation showed a distinct decrease in racial bias, and the control group did not.

Similar results were produced by an unrelated study conducted at the Royal Holloway University of London, which used a much more low-tech setting to create a discontinuity in the subjects body image.

Professor Mel Slater, the lead of the team running the Barcelona experiment, “refers to virtual reality as an ‘empathy generating machine’ to give people experiences they can’t have in any other way.”

See the source article via BBC for more detail and a video of the experimental setting.

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