Confronting whiteness through virtual humans: A review of 20 years of research in prejudice and racial bias using virtual environments

Haley Hatfield (PhD student), Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, Matthew Klein (PhD student) & Kristine Nowak (in press). “Confronting whiteness through virtual humans: A review of 20 years of research in prejudice and racial bias using virtual environments.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Abstract: Virtual environments provide novel and powerful ways users can experience people and places where researchers can examine and reduce racial bias. However, these experiences may unintentionally prime or entrench racist beliefs when creating simulations without considering the systemic structures of racial inequities in academia. A critical Whiteness framework guides this systematic review of 20 years of prejudice and bias reduction research in virtual environments. Of the 68 articles, findings indicated that virtual experiences are a promising tool in anti-bias interventions. However, future research must expand to more longitudinal, behaviorally focused studies while prioritizing predictive theoretical models and meaningfully reflecting on inclusive practices within the broader bias reduction space. We discuss best practices for future research in anti-bias and anti-prejudice in virtual environments.