Presented by the UCLA Library and the Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences

Speaker: Aaron Kaufman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science at New York University, Abu Dhabi

Virtual Reality is a powerful technology with broad applicability to many domains: it is used in professional training for pilots, surgeons and the military; in academia, researchers in cognitive, developmental and social psychology use it productively. As VR hardware becomes cheaper and more accessible, it will expand to even more areas of professional life. This talk introduces the use of Virtual Reality as a tool for behavioral research in political science and economics, showing how VR compares favorably to both lab and field experiments across two recent applications.

The first application studies perspective-taking, a key component of building empathy and reducing discrimination and prejudice. Using a stray dog shelter as a case study, the VR interventions improve empathy more effectively than standard laboratory interventions, and nearly as effectively as field interventions at significantly lower cost. The second application develops a toolkit for inducing emotions using VR interventions paired with haptic, vibrotactile vests. VR interventions can produce emotions, especially fear, relaxation, and surprise, much more effectively than standard tools. In doing so, the long-standing relationships between those emotions and important political and economic outcomes fail to reproduce, particularly conservativism and risk aversion.

This talk will be held in person and via Zoom.

Light refreshments will be served.

Aaron Kaufman is an assistant professor of political science at New York University Abu Dhabi. He also holds affiliations with the Department of Politics and the Center for Data Science at New York University, the Center for Social Media and Politics (CSMaP) and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) at Harvard University. His research interests leverage cutting-edge methods in computer science and causal inference to solve measurement problems in political science. He also produces open-source tools to help researchers work more efficiently. He is committed to research transparency and open science.

Related Series

Have Further Questions?

We're here to help. Chat with a librarian 24/7, schedule a research consultation or email us your quick questions.

Contact us
Contact us