Testing an Immersive Virtual Environment for Decreasing Intergroup Anxiety among University Students: An Interpersonal Perspective

Venla Kuuluvainen, Ira Virtanen, Lassi Rikkonen, Pekka Isotalus


This study examined the use of an immersive virtual environment (IVE) in decreasing intergroup anxiety among university students. In Dinner-time360 , the students engaged in an interpersonal encounter by sharing a virtual dinner table with someone from another linguistic or cultural group. A control group watched the documentary in a traditional 2D format. The re-sults showed that the documentary reduced intergroup anxiety in both situa-tions, particularly among students with high anxiety who engaged in the IVE. For the IVE viewers, the decrease in intergroup anxiety was connected to two interpersonal elements: perceptions of the character’s immediacy and an in-creased level of homophily. These findings provide insights into the possibil-ities of IVEs in multicultural learning among university students.


multicultural learning; intergroup anxiety; interpersonal communication; immersive virtual environment; parasocial contact

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Copyright (c) 2021 Venla Kuuluvainen, Ira Virtanen, Lassi Rikkonen, Pekka Isotalus

International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET) – eISSN: 1863-0383
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