The 360º Virtual Scenario Method © Helene Peters

The 360º Virtual Scenario research program aims to remedy some of the defects of the traditional scenario (or “vignette”) method by employing immersive 360º video. This virtual reality (VR) method is based on the assumption that the commonly used written scenarios are unlikely to capture the more visceral and emotional aspects involved in real-world offending, which commonly occurs during “hot” and altered states of mind. Additionally, the 10–15 line narrative of the standard scenario is unlikely adequately to reflect the complex reality of real-life decision-making situations or realistically to incorporate important nuances of social experience. Rather than asking participants to imagine themselves in a specific situation on the basis of a short narrative, a VR scenario perceptually immerses them in it. Our findings demonstrate that the increased feelings of being “present” in the situation and the perceived realism of the VR scenario compared to the written counterpart indeed trigger stronger emotional experiences that influence subsequent aggressive intentions.
Research output: Scientific articles | Photo: Helene Peters.

Us­ing of 360º Vir­tu­al Scen­ari­os to
Study Ag­gress­ive Be­ha­vi­or in a
Bar­room Set­ting

The ef­fect of emo­tions on de­cision mak­ing tran­scends daily life. Al­though some emo­tions like fear can sharpen senses and fo­cus de­cisions, oth­er af­fect­ive states like an­ger can bi­as judge­ments and make people be­have in a way that is not in our self-in­terest. This is be­cause emo­tion­al ex­per­i­ences pro­duce in­tense mo­tiv­a­tions to­wards goal-ori­ented be­ha­vi­or. Grow­ing re­search sug­gests that like oth­er risky be­ha­vi­ors, emo­tion­al ex­per­i­ences also in­flu­ence the de­cision to en­gage in crime. However, be­cause crime can­not eas­ily be ex­amined in labor­at­ory or real-world set­tings (for eth­ic­al and safety con­cerns), this re­search has been lim­ited to the use of tra­di­tion­al sur­vey meth­od­o­logy, which can­not cap­ture the de­gree to which a po­ten­tial crim­in­al ac­tu­ally ex­per­i­ences an emo­tion­al state with­in a crim­in­al op­por­tun­ity. In­stead, VR Scen­ari­os im­merse study par­ti­cipants in en­vir­on­ments that more closely re­flect “real-world” set­tings where crimes oc­cur. The fo­cus of this pro­ject to is to fur­ther ex­plore the in­flu­ence of two crim­ino­gen­ic emo­tions: an­ger and sexu­al arous­al. To test the ef­fect of these af­fect­ive states on crime de­cisions we are de­vel­op­ing two vir­tu­al scen­ari­os that present the op­por­tun­ity to en­gage in a bar fight or in­ter­vene with sexu­al as­sault. Our goal is to as­sess wheth­er ele­ments of the scen­ario in­duce emo­tion­al re­sponses in our study par­ti­cipants that sub­sequently shape be­ha­vi­or­al in­ten­tions to act ag­gress­ively.