Empathy Toward Vitual Humans Depicting a Known or Unknown Person Expressing Pain
DEFENCE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CANADA VALCARTIER (QUEBEC) VALCARTIER Canada
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This study tested both a empathy toward the pain of an avatar when the avatar was a realistic representation of a known versus unknown person, and b the role of social presence in users empathy toward avatars pain. Forty-two participants were immersed in virtual environment where they can interact in real-time with avatars. The participants had to discuss with an avatar that experienced acute and very strong pain, depicting familiar person and an unknown avatar. The sequence was randomized and both avatars expressed identical pain reactions. Repeated measures analyses of variance revealed that participants were empathic toward both avatars, yet more empathic to the known avatar. Participants feeling of social presence impression that known avatar was really there, with them was a significant predictor of empathy.