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CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

Intergroup Contact in Virtual Reality: Comparative Effects of Two Contact Strategies on Reducing Prejudice and Increasing Trust Between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland


Katholische und protestantische Menschen virtuell verbinden

Virtuelle Realität sollte ursprünglich Videospiele immersiver gestalten, die Technologie hat sich jedoch auf viele andere Branchen und Sektoren ausgebreitet. Die Einsatzgebiete der virtuellen Realität reichen aktuell von Arbeitsstätten bis hin zu Klassenzimmern. Bald könnte sie jedoch eine neue Berufung finden und zur Minderung von Gruppenkonflikten beitragen. Diese Idee basiert auf der Kontakthypothese, nach der gruppenübergreifender Kontakt Vorurteile zwischen Mitgliedern von Mehr- und Minderheitsgruppen effektiv reduzieren kann. Das EU-finanzierte Projekt contactVIRT wird diese Hypothese anhand von Technologie mit virtueller Realität in Nordirland prüfen. Da katholische und protestantische Menschen relativ selten Kontakt zu Personen außerhalb ihrer Gruppe haben, werden die Projektmitglieder untersuchen, ob Kontakt über virtuelle Realität das Vertrauen zwischen den zwei Gruppen fördert.


Intergroup contact is widely recognised among social scientists as a means to overcome prejudice between social groups. However, contact is less likely to occur in highly segregated contexts such as the post-conflict society of Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants grow with relatively scarce contact with members outside their own group. Faced with this scenario, scholars have examined computer-mediated contact with relatively successful outcomes. Although virtual reality (VR) technologies have been less fully explored in this respect, it offers great potential for contact by way of avatar communication in a safe environment. The scarce literature in this area has associated VR interactions with empathy and trust towards outgroups. These effects derive mainly from two strategies: perspective taking (e.g. making users to adopt an outgroup avatar), and recategorisation (e.g. inducing an inclusive-superordinate identity among ingroup/outgroup members). Conversely, the mechanisms by which VR-contact may be effective are less clear as other similar studies have obtained mixed results. A potential confusion in the effects produced by avatar customization (similarity identification, embodiment), and the relevance of the primed superordinate identity (transient or lasting) for group members, seem to affect contact outcomes. This proposal has a primary objective of testing the effectiveness of VR-contact in reducing prejudice and promoting trust between members of the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland. Specifically, this research will compare the relative strengths of perspective taking versus recategorisation, evaluate the mechanisms of avatar customization, and advance a research framework of contact in VR environments for successful contact effects. Hence, this research will extend the field by producing theoretical advances in an innovative area which combines communication technologies and intergroup contact.


€ 224 933,76
BT7 1NN Belfast
Vereinigtes Königreich

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Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Belfast
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
€ 224 933,76