Georgetown University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Washington, D.C., USA, 2020
- Alie Fordyce
- Anna Hoffman
- Shana Inofuentes
- Sacha Qasim
- Aditi Sahu
New technologies seemingly integrate at ever-increasing rates into consumers’ lives and minds. Virtual reality (VR) exemplifies this phenomenon by provoking psychological presence, a “sensation of ‘being there’” (Bailenson) that marks the threshold between any other fabricated experience, such as watching a video, and full immersion into a virtual world. Curious about the power of such technologies and how we may harness them to help make the world a better place, we explored commercial VR as a tool to produce pro-environmental behavior that combats climate change.
We conducted our analysis by mapping out the following three aspects of commercial VR: 1) its hard and software architecture; 2) a core algorithm that would produce user belief in acting on climate change; and 3) the broader world within which commercial VR and human-induced climate change operate, including the various forces driving and impacting them. In our study of this final systems map, we found that social influence could enable a feedback loop that activated commercial VR as a continuously more powerful agent to fight the causes of climate change.