Milgram-like experiment with avatars

In a study much like the famous Milgram experiments (where people administered shocks to others behind a partition, in accordance to an authoritative direction), they’re finding that people have high empathic response to avatars (like those in Second Life) even when they know they aren’t real.

Research findings:

Our results show that in spite of the fact that all participants knew for sure that neither the stranger nor the shocks were real, the participants who saw and heard her tended to respond to the situation at the subjective, behavioural and physiological levels as if it were real. This result reopens the door to direct empirical studies of obedience and related extreme social situations, an area of research that is otherwise not open to experimental study for ethical reasons, through the employment of virtual environments.

Author: Andrew Hinton

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