“There is a growing body of evidence on the efficacy of VR for empathy. Fernanda Herrera just published a large-scale, longitudinal set of studies. People who went through ‘Becoming Homeless’ in immersive VR were more likely to sign a petition supporting affordable housing compared to control conditions. Moreover, effectiveness of VR outpaced controls even when looking two months after the experience.” Interview with Jeremy Bailenson, Director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

In the midst of conducting research on the topic of simulation and empathy, I came across Stanford University’s Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience. This immersive virtual reality experience engages the participant in better understanding some of the challenges and choices one is confronted with when addressing unemployment, eviction, and finding a safe shelter. What moved me most were the narratives and voices of my surrounding bus riders.

For those who don’t have a VR headset, watch the video posted above to get a sense of “Becoming Homeless” via desktop.

To learn more, listen to the podcast ‘Becoming Homeless’: Stanford’s Empathy Experiment in Embodied Perspective-Taking and check out Building long-term empathy: A large-scale comparison of traditional and virtual reality perspective-taking (2018) by Fernanda Herrera, Jeremy Bailenson, Erika Weisz, Elise Ogle, & Jamil Zaki.

Warm regards,


#StanfordUniversity #VirtualHumanInteractionLab #BecomingHomeless #BuildingEmpathyAndAdvocacy

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