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Title: So far yet so near : exploring the effects of presence and psychological distance in promoting prosocial behaviour in virtual reality
Authors: Aw, Yao Feng
Lee, Hui Min
Lim, Samuel Weng Leong
Goh, Winnie Wen Pin
Keywords: Social sciences::Mass media::Media effects
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Aw, Y. F., Lee, H. M., Lim, S. W. L. & Goh, W. W. P. (2021). So far yet so near : exploring the effects of presence and psychological distance in promoting prosocial behaviour in virtual reality. Final Year Project (FYP), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Project: CS/20/049 
Abstract: This study explores the theoretical mechanisms behind virtual reality's (VR) ability to induce empathy and prosocial behaviour by proposing a conceptual framework based on Construal Level Theory (CLT). It posits that increased perceptions of virtual presence, together with a reduction of perceived psychological distance, may translate into prosocial behaviours such as intention to donate money and volunteer. We propose two routes to explain this relationship, namely the Place Illusion Route and the Self-Plausibility Route. A total of 244 participants participated in the experiment: university undergraduates were randomly selected into one of three modality conditions (VR, 360 video and 360 desktop video). All participants experienced a scenario of being caught in a military crossfire, followed by a mine explosion in a village. We found that VR as an immersive medium is more likely to allow users to feel physically present and closer to a place. This may in turn make users feel a stronger sense of empathy, which urges them to engage in prosocial behaviour. This study thus highlights the effectiveness of CLT in explaining the relationship between immersion and prosocial behaviour when mediated by physical presence, spatial distance and empathy.
Schools: Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information 
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:WKWSCI Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI/CA)

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