Walk in my shoes: How perspective-taking and VR enhance telepresence and empathy in a public service announcement for people experiencing homelessness

Yanyun Wang, Chen Chen, Michelle Renee Nelson, Sela Sar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research explored how a virtual reality (VR) public service announcement (PSA) in a first-person perspective (vs non-VR PSA scripts: first-person perspective-taking, non-perspective-taking) impacted attitudes toward the PSA and attitudes toward people experiencing homelessness. Participants first reported their attitudes toward people experiencing homelessness. Seven days later, participants watched or read a PSA about the life of a person experiencing homelessness and reported their attitudes toward the people experiencing homelessness and the PSA. We explored how psychological processes (telepresence, empathy, reactance) related to persuasion. Results showed viewing or reading any of the PSAs led to more favorable attitudes toward the target group. The VR PSA was the most likely format to induce telepresence and empathy and the least likely to induce reactance. Attitudes toward the VR PSA were more positive than toward the script PSAs. Overall, our study provides insights into the effectiveness of VR and narrative formats for persuasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Empathy
  • perspective-taking
  • public service announcement (PSA)
  • reactance
  • telepresence
  • virtual reality (VR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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