VIOLENce against women: IF abusive men feel victim’s pain. SANT'ANNA school perceptual robotics lab. creates immersive virtual reality assault experience

Professor Massimo Bergamasco and his team are conducting an experimental study at the TeCIP Institute on abusive men feeling victim’s pain. The research project aims to create a connection between virtual reality potential offenders and women victims of violence.

In virtual scenarios, individuals have the illusion of being in a real environment. Virtual Reality (VR) provides a tool to simulate and study violent behaviors without exposing participants to real danger, overcoming the ethical issues that arise in non-virtual experiments. This research will be presented to participants attending the training program organized by Sant’Anna School professors of political philosophy and criminal law, Anna Loretoni and Gaetana Morgante, on June 14, 2018.

This program attempts to tackle gender-based violence and makes VR a choice to explore gender-based issues. In his study, Professor Massimo Bergamasco used immersive virtual reality to induce a full body illusion that allows stalkers wearing robotic exoskeletons (in the X-CAVE environment), to be in the body of a victim of abuse. Scientists provide evidence demonstrating that embodied perspective taking through VR has the potential to improve rehabilitation programs for offenders by enhancing emotional recognition skills. After being embodied in a female victim, stalkers may improve their ability to recognize fearful women. Theoretical models of aggression and deviant behaviors will be carried out to recreate in the laboratory a situation capable of inducing intense feelings of fear or distress in participants.

“The experiments aim to help abusive men better understand the feelings of their victims by putting them in the female’s shoes. The research contributes to the development of exoskeletons aimed to improve the efficacy of rehabilitation programs, which include perspective-taking techniques based on watching images and carrying out role-playing activities – said Professor Bergamasco - Exoskeletons can record physiological reactions taking the perspective of the victim in a violent situation”.

Additional supplementary materials: "Se il violento prova il dolore della vittima. L'esperimento del Sant'Anna", Tirreno newspaper article by Ilaria Bonuccelli

Photogallery:

Il Professor Bergamasco spiega il concetto di ritorno di forza
Un particolare dell’esoscheletro riprodotto al PC
I preparativi dell’esperimento
Un momento della simulazione virtuale della violenza

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