Doing good with Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality and its impact on political decision-making
At a glance
- Project leader : Prof. Dr. Sara Irina Fabrikant (Universität Zürich), Prof. Dr. Ester Reijnen, Prof. Dr. Wibke Weber
- Project team : Filip Dingerkus, Reto Ritter, Mirjam West, Onur Yildirim, Dr. Marta Zampa
- Project budget : CHF 250'000
- Project status : completed
- Funding partner : SNSF (Digital Lives / Projekt Nr. 183095)
Information dissemination, access, and comprehension are key components for citizen involvement in democratic processes. The broad dissemination and respective ease of comprehension of voting relevant information in election/voting booklet provided by, for example, the Federal Chancellery is a key prerequisite for votes by informed citizens. However, often we are not aware of the complexity of the voting issues, and or have difficulty to comprehend the information provided by the authorities. This can lead in the worst case to citizens not voting at all, or voting differently as intended, due to misinterpreting the available voting information. Instead of relying on the plain voting texts provided by the authorities as a main source of information, citizens of an increasing digital society inform themselves through multiple media sources (e.g., TV, social media, etc.). However, to our knowledge, there is no empirical research on whether and how (if at all) various media sources - and particularly new immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) - influence political decision-making above and beyond plain text information. We aim to close this research gap and aim to investigate how VR might affect political decision-making compared to classic and still current, text-based voting campaigns by the government. The innovation potential lies in systematically assessing and providing missing empirical evidence of the benefits and risks of the novel emerging VR technology ready to be used in democratic processes.
Digital Democracy Workshop, Zurich, 5-6 November 2020.