A typical protocol for the psychological study of helping behavior features two core roles: a help seeker suffering from some personal or situational emergency (often called “victim”) and a potential helper. The setting of these studies is such that the victim and the helper often share the same space. We wondered whether this spatial arrangement might affect the help rate. Thus, we designed a simple study with virtual reality in which space sharing could be manipulated. The participant plays the role of a potential helper; the victim is a humanoid located inside the virtual building. When the request for help is issued, the participant can be either in the same spatial region as the victim (the virtual building) or outside it. The effect of space was tested in two kinds of emergencies: a mere request for help and a request for help during a fire. The analysis shows that, in both kinds of emergencies, the participants were more likely to help the victim when sharing the space with it. This study suggests controlling the spatial arrangement when investigating helping behavior. It also illustrates the expediency of virtual reality to further investigate the role of space on pro-social behavior during emergencies.

Sharing the Space With the “Victim” Can Increase Help Rates. A Study With Virtual Reality

Spagnolli, Anna;Masotina, Mariavittoria;Furlan, Mattia;Pluchino, Patrik;Martinelli, Massimiliano;Gamberini, Luciano
2021

Abstract

A typical protocol for the psychological study of helping behavior features two core roles: a help seeker suffering from some personal or situational emergency (often called “victim”) and a potential helper. The setting of these studies is such that the victim and the helper often share the same space. We wondered whether this spatial arrangement might affect the help rate. Thus, we designed a simple study with virtual reality in which space sharing could be manipulated. The participant plays the role of a potential helper; the victim is a humanoid located inside the virtual building. When the request for help is issued, the participant can be either in the same spatial region as the victim (the virtual building) or outside it. The effect of space was tested in two kinds of emergencies: a mere request for help and a request for help during a fire. The analysis shows that, in both kinds of emergencies, the participants were more likely to help the victim when sharing the space with it. This study suggests controlling the spatial arrangement when investigating helping behavior. It also illustrates the expediency of virtual reality to further investigate the role of space on pro-social behavior during emergencies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3401022
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