Information Technology and the Construction of Moral Reasoning, Empathy, and Affect: Crossing Time, Space, and Attitudes in Virtual Reality

By William James Stover, Mali A. Mann and Marina Mankaryous.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Internet and World Wide Web, developed from science and technology, bring individuals together in global intimacy. These immediate yet far-flung connections have profound effects upon the construction of ideas, the mental images in our minds. This applied research explores the outcomes encountered by using internet interaction for constructing a deeper understanding of others, evoking empathetic reactions, and simulating conflict resolution. It uses an online, interactive simulation and a dialog on religion and politics as case studies. In the first, individuals experience the stress, uncertainty, and fear of decision making during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and their emotive affect is studied. In a second study, subjects are exposed to different moral reasoning in religious explanations of Middle East conflict, and their acceptance of groups representing the positions are evaluated. The applied research examines how these experiences change attitudes and outlooks through an innovative use of technology, understanding more completely the construction of ideas, affect and emotion.

Keywords: Internet, Computer Simulations, Constructs, Empathy, Affect, Mental Images, Moral Reasoning, International Relations, Middle East Conflict Resolution

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.157-170. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.582MB).

Dr. William James Stover

Professor, Department of Political Science, Santa Clara Univesity, Santa Clara, California, USA

William James Stover has studied international conflict resolution for many years. He earned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of New York, emphasizing conflict resolution, civil-military relations, and international crisis behavior; and an M.A. in international relations at the American University (Washington), focusing on diplomacy, international law and organization. He has written books on Information Technology (Westview), Military Politics (University Press of America), International Conflict Simulation (Foundations Press) and articles in journals as diverse as the International Journal on World Peace, Naval War College Review, Christian Science Monitor, International Studies Perspectives, and Journal of Political Science Education. A former foreign-service officer, Professor Stover experienced conflict first-hand while serving abroad. He also lectured on conflict resolution as a fellow of the International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflict (a Pugwash affiliate) and was recently named a Senior Fulbright Specialist on Information Technology and Conflict Resolution by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

Dr. Mali A. Mann

Clinical Associate Adjunct Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Stanford University, USA

Dr. Mann is an adult and child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst doing research on identity formation, pre-school development, and immigrant parenting at Stanford University and the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis.

Marina Mankaryous

Provost Research Fellow, Political Science, Santa Clara University, USA

Ms. Mankaryous is a Provost Fellow, member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and research assistant in international relations theory.