BU virtual reality bystander research featured on BBC London TV news

Posted on Wednesday, April 3 2013

Richard Southern, Research Lecturer in Computer Animation at BU, was featured on BBC London TV news talking about using virtual reality to investigate the bystander effect.

Richard and a team from BU have been working with University College London to create a virtual reality simulation of an altercation in a bar, to see how people react when they witness a violent situation.

Participants wear special glasses which create a 360 degree virtual experience, and are confronted with a conflict between two men in the bar – one of whom is wearing an Arsenal football shirt.

The research found that people were more likely to intervene if they were fellow Arsenal fans or if the simulated person made eye contact, seen as an appeal for help.

BBC London reporter Sara Orchard tried out the simulation, for a report which appeared on both the lunchtime and evening bulletins.

Richard said: “A lot of people were frustrated that they couldn’t intervene, but I think in general, most people were surprised by how emotionally involved in the event.”

The research is now being looked at for potentially uses by the prison service, the Ministry of Defence and the police.

You can watch the BBC London report here.