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People Interact as Cows on a Virtual Reality Farm

Cyber technology at Stanford University brings factory farm exposure to a new, interactive level.

At Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, psychological analysis is combined with cutting edge technology to test the effects of empathy as subjects experience what it’s like to be a factory farm cow from a first-person perspective. Participants are immersed in a virtual reality world where they walk on their hands and feet, are prodded and electrocuted by workers, and finally are led off to the slaughterhouse. The subjects were then asked to record what they ate during the week after their virtual experience. The results have yet to be analyzed, but subjects have already testified that the Virtual Human Interaction Lab’s ability to induce empathy: “I truly felt like I was going to the slaughter house towards the end and I felt sad that I (as a cow) was going to die,” said one participant to ClimateWire.

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