Mattia Furlan

Neuroscience, Technology and Society, XXXIV series
Grant sponsor

Anna Spagnolli
GianAntonio Susto

Project description
My research project aims at investigating racial implicit associations in situations in which usually intolerance is intensified, using an Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) environment. The main purpose is to see if it is possible to deceive the Cultural Worldview, as stated in the TMT (Terror Management Theory; Greenberg, Pyszczynski & Solomon, 1986), by using embodiment techniques creating the perception and the illusion of being an other-ethnic group member. Since now, embodiment VR techniques have been used to demonstrate that implicit racial bias could decrease in the event that people are made aware of being embodied in a different-skin character (Peck, Seinfeld, Aglioti & Slater, 2013). But what if we put them in a circumstance in which they usually become more intolerant towards outgroup members? Will they still perceive the virtual character as their own body? And what if we make the character group membership salient? In order to answer these questions, a virtual environment that will make mortality salient and will allow a total embodiment will be created, and it will be studied people’s behavior and their automatic associations. The intent is to verify how people react in a situation in which they are usually more intolerant, even though they cognitively identify themselves with the social group against which they are biased. Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR), then, turns out to be the only tool to simulate this kind of situation and could probably lead researchers to a better understanding of human behavior.