Kup czasopismo
Background: This paper presents an overview of a pilot study focused on testing the effectiveness of immersive virtual reality (VR) exercises, within extended reality experiences, in increasing awareness and empathy among university students towards pregnant women, elderly people, people in wheelchairs, and people with some sort of sight impairment. The extended reality experience was designed to simulate various scenarios that reflect the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds, to promote a better understanding of different perspectives and social issues related to some of the challenges tackled by people whose limitations are many times overlooked. Material and Methods: A design-based research methodology was applied and qualitative and quantitative data were collected in samples of 20 students from 3 countries. Results: Overall, the results suggest that immersive VR applications can be an effective tool in increasing awareness and empathy among higher education students. The use of VR technology can create a sense of presence and immersion that allows students to experience situations that they may not have encountered otherwise. The results attained with the immersive experiences have provided evidence that these solutions can foster a greater understanding of different perspectives and promote empathy towards individuals from diverse backgrounds. Conclusions: Ongoing research correlated with the Mixed Reality on Universal Design’s Secret Service (Mr. UD) project results is already expanding on these findings by testing the effectiveness of VR applications in different contexts and with larger and more diverse samples. Additionally, the research conducted has provided relevant evidence that suggests that VR applications and their inclusion in training programs may help promote behavior change and reduce prejudice and discrimination towards marginalized groups. Med Pr. 2023;74(3):187–97