Perspective-taking through DialogueTrainer Simulations – A Viable Platform to Address Racial Bias?
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Simulations are growing in popularity -- their interactive nature, immersive characteristics, and ability to stimulate social influence make simulations a potential platform to address social issues, such as racism. DialogueTrainer is a company that creates conversation simulations so players can practice their communication skills. Research has shown that perspective-taking is a valuable method to reduce implicit racial bias, a relationship mediated by empathy. The present study investigated whether DialogueTrainer simulations are a viable platform to reduce implicit racial bias through perspective-taking methods. In an online study, participants (N = 128) were recruited via Prolific to engage in one of two perspective-taking conditions: (1) playing a DialogueTrainer simulation of a racially charged conversation or (2) reading a transcript of the racially charged conversation. Following these perspective-taking interventions, participants (a) completed an explicit bias questionnaire, (b) completed a perspective-taking questionnaire, (c) played the prisoner’s dilemma to measure racial-economic trust, and (d) completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) to measure empathy. Data analysis revealed that racial-economic trust did not differ between the two conditions, and IRI empathy scores did not mediate this relationship. However, DialogueTrainer participants more strongly felt that the character experiencing racism was treated unfairly and had higher perspective-taking scores than those in the transcript. Although explicit bias scores did not differ between the DialogueTrainer and transcript conditions, explicit bias scores were negatively correlated with perspective-taking scores. In addition, exploratory analyses revealed that women had higher empathy scores, men more greatly tried to remain detached, and Belgian participants more strongly felt that the racist character was unbiased compared to Dutch participants. The results of this study indicate that DialogueTrainer is a promising platform to allow players to experience unfair treatment resulting from bias. Future studies and further implications are discussed.
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