Virtual reality can change not only how people behave, but also how they conserve, according to the latest studies conducted by Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Science Daily reports that in one particular study, test subjects were given the ability to become virtual loggers and experience deforestation firsthand by using “joystick chainsaws.” Then after the virtual logging session, they were tested on how much paper they conserved.
The Stanford studies stem from the belief that in order to change wasteful behaviour in our fast-paced technological world, people must feel directly responsible and engaged. For instance, having a subject simulate logging (cutting down a tree) may awaken a sense of accountability that reading a pamphlet on the subject could never invoke.
Jeremy Baileson, associate professor and head of the Stanford research team understands that 3D movies, software and interactive experiences are influencing behaviours like never before. In all studies conducted, virtual reality subjects reported having a stronger sense of responsibility for their actions after the logging simulation and believed that they could make a real difference. In comparison, subjects who merely read about logging used an average of 20% more paper products after the conclusion of the study than did the virtual loggers.
The study also suggested that just three minutes of a embodied experience could produce a behavioural result. Further, repeated or long-term exposure to virtual reality scenarios may produce even more dramatic results.
Looks like conservation is getting a push in the REAL direction!