Toward Measuring Empathy in Virtual Reality

By Kate Carey, Emily Saltz, Jacob Rosenbloom, Mark Micheli, Judeth Oden Choi, Jessica Hammer

Link to full paper here.

The layout of the room during playtesting. The player stands in the center of a cleared area with the VR headset. The observers sit just outside the area with a view of both the player and the video stream from the headset, taking notes and controlling the recording equipment. A single camera captures the player from straight on.

Abstract: While VR is often described as an empathy-inducing medium, it is difficult to link specific features of a VR experience to empathy outcomes. This is due in large part to the challenges of measuring empathy constructs, and the difficulty of capturing the subjective emotional experience of a player in VR. In response, the authors propose a lightweight, inexpensive framework that researchers can use to easily establish a VR testing environment and begin gathering data on the subjective empathic response of users in VR. The authors also propose future research needed to expand, modify, and validate the proposed user-testing protocol.

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