Skip to content Skip to navigation

Virtual reality can help make people more compassionate compared to other media, new Stanford study finds

Fernanda Herrera, left, watches as fellow student Hannah Mieczkowski navigates through the VR experience that begins with an eviction notice.
Image credit: L.A. Cicero
Oct 17 2018
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

A Stanford-developed virtual reality experience, called “Becoming Homeless,” is helping expand research on how this new immersive technology affects people’s level of empathy.

According to new Stanford research, people who saw in virtual reality, also known as VR, what it would be like to lose their jobs and homes developed longer-lasting compassion toward the homeless compared to those who explored other media versions of the VR scenario, like text. These findings are set to publish Oct. 17 in PLOS ONE.

“Experiences are what define us as humans, so it’s not surprising that an intense experience in VR is more impactful than imagining something,” said Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication and a co-author of the paper.

Lead Author Fernanda Herrera is a 2015 EDGE-SBEH Fellow.

Read the full article