Escaping Plato’s Cave: Ethical considerations for the use of Virtual Reality in psychology teaching.

Thompson, Kristin P.J, OKeeffe, Ciaran, Cseh, Genevieve M., Worth, Piers and Smith, Matthew D. (2019) Escaping Plato’s Cave: Ethical considerations for the use of Virtual Reality in psychology teaching. IM Publications Open.

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Virtual Reality (VR) offers exciting new opportunities for teaching psychology, such as the chance to explore questions, phenomena, perspectives and experiences it would be difficult or impossible to observe in the real world or classroom. As VR technology develops, its potential to provide a multi-modal sensory experience may lead to even more immersive environments. With these exciting opportunities, however, come new ethical dilemmas and risks for teachers and students utilising this technology. Many users and manufacturers of VR acknowledge the physiological and psychological impacts of the use of VR (e.g. Sharples, Cobb, Moody, & Wilson, 2008). Indeed, these are not to be taken lightly even within informal teaching settings. One of the most commonly reported effects is motion-sickness, however, improvements in technology may help to lessen these. An increasing number of studies are now revealing potential psychological impacts, for example, Aimé, Cotton, and Bouchard (2009) found females reporting increased body dissatisfaction after immersive VR use, and Aardema, O’Connor, Côté and Taillon (2010) found users reporting greater sense of dissociation and lower sense of ‘presence’ in objective reality. As yet, however, the British Psychological Society (BPS), the professional body for the discipline of psychology, has provided no specific ethical guidelines for the use of VR or Augmented Reality (AR) in research with human participants or in an educational setting.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Psychology, Teaching, Virtual Reality, Cybersickness, Immersion
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2019 10:51
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 11:08

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