Serious games: The role of perspective taking, presence, and personal distress in reducing stigma towards people with Autism Spectrum Disorder



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An effective strategy for combating the negative effects of stigma is encouraging others to take the perspective of a stigmatized individual. Advances in technology allow individuals to take the perspective of another person through simulations. The current study focuses on experiential learning through simulation video games to instill prosocial attitudes and behaviors towards people with autism. By providing narrative and first-person perspective in video games of creating simulation of sensory sensitivity as experienced by individuals with autism, the influence of the narrative simulation game on perspective-taking and emotional responses are examined as theoretical mechanisms. Participants engaged with narrative simulation game play, non-narrative simulation game play, and a narrative that describe sensory overload scenarios. The results suggested that narrative is necessary for enhancing perspective-taking and reducing personal distress in a simulation game. The increased perspective-taking and reduced personal distress simultaneously mediated the effects of the narrative simulation video game on positive change in attitudes and behaviors towards individuals with autism. Moreover, follow-up test found that similar positive change in attitudes and behaviors sustained two weeks later. From a theoretical perspective, cognitive perspective-taking in simulation games overwhelmed personal distress and lead to empathize the stigmatized people. Practically, this study makes an attempt to intervene at the social level for the change of public attitudes towards stigmatized people.

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Serious game: Perspective-taking, Presence, Personal distress, Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)