Keisha York

Thesis title:

Embodied virtual reality training: a new pathway to reduce racial implicit bias and enhance empathy

Abstract:

Diversity training functions as a key initiative for HR departments aiming to successfully manage ethnic diversity. It intends to facilitate positive intergroup interactions, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and provide the competencies needed for employees to interact with diverse others. However, its inability to reduce biases towards racialised groups and facilitate empathic abilities has impacted its effectiveness. Technological innovations in embodiment virtual reality can provide a cost-effective and efficient alternative to diversity training. By embodying the experiences of an ethnic minority worker in an immersive VR setting, it has the potential to increase empathy and reduce implicit racial bias towards diverse groups (Banakou et al., 2016). The proposed research aims to design and evaluate the effectiveness of an embodied virtual reality diversity intervention on empathy and implicit racial bias among healthcare practitioners using a mixed method approach i.e., focus groups and a randomised control trial. For the intervention, participants are randomised into an ‘embodied-White’ or ‘embodied-Black’ condition to assess, using multivariate ANOVA, SEM and path analyses, whether scores on the Cognitive and Affective Empathy scale and Racial Implicit Association Test change from pre- to post- intervention and at 1-week follow up. With support from KCL’s TIDES study, the VR and CSI Lab, this project will pioneer approaches to global diversity management.

First supervisor:

Teresa D’Oliveira

Pathway:

2-Life Course, Psychology, & Health

Cohort:

2021-22