Reactions to violence - how would YOU respond?
Social psychologists face a major problem when studying street violence; a lack of information about what actually happened. Witness accounts may be unreliable. If time has elapsed since the event, memories are distorted. How can we better understand this problem? Recreating violent situations in an experimental setting using actors is difficult, both for ethical and practical reasons.
Prof Mel Slater’s group at UCL Computer Science has shown that people tend to respond realistically to situations that occur in an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE). UCL’s IVE systems include goggles that provide 3D imagery and track head movements, and the CAVE - a room in which high-resolution stereo-pair images are projected in real-time on 3 walls and the floor. Such powerful IVE systems are now being used by Prof Slater, Aitor Rovira and David Swapp to present violent situations to volunteers in a repeatable way. Psychologists may then study their reactions and the factors that affect accurate recall.