Publication: Urban Design, Public Spaces, and Social Cohesion: Evidence from a Virtual Reality Experiment
Llopis Abella, Jimena
Tas, Emcet O.
Public spaces can be an instrument to increase social cohesion, yet they are often underutilized. This paper presents findings from a randomized virtual reality experiment with more than 2,000 participants in Karachi, Pakistan. The paper investigates the relationship between urban design, willingness to use public spaces, and social cohesion. The findings show that exposure to a two-and-a-half-minute-long virtual reality experience featuring various urban design and social diversity elements has a statistically significant impact. In particular, improvements in the design of a public park through the virtual reality experience increased the park's perceived attractiveness and participants' willingness to use it. Exposure to diverse social groups in the virtual reality experience, by itself, had mixed impacts on social cohesion indicators such as trust and perception of and willingness to interact with outgroups. The impacts varied by ethnic affiliation, income, sex, and education level. This may be partly explained by the segregated nature of Karachi and the high prevalence of mistrust of outgroups. The paper illustrates how modern technology can be used as an effective, low-cost tool for diagnosing social phenomena, soliciting feedback about urban interventions for inclusive design, and promoting social contact.
“Llopis Abella, Jimena; Fruttero, Anna; Tas, Emcet O.; Taj, Umar. 2020. Urban Design, Public Spaces, and Social Cohesion; Urban Design, Public Spaces, and Social Cohesion : Evidence from a Virtual Reality Experiment : Evidence from a Virtual Reality Experiment. Policy Research Working Paper;No. 9407. © World Bank, Washington, DC. http://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34505 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
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