Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Postnonclassical Methodology and Application of Virtual Reality Technologies in Social Research

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Postnonclassical Methodology and Application of Virtual Reality Technologies in Social Research

Article excerpt

Postnonclassical paradigm in social research and new information technologies

In recent decades, social sciences in Russia and beyond have faced new challenges caused by ever-changing realities and the emergence of new phenomena, social risks and problems at various levels: from individual to interpersonal to intergroup to international. These problems include not only the individual's search for their own place in the rapidly changing environment and the necessity to address vital issues of distinct groups but also the search for new ways of removing threats to society and humanity as a whole.

Today, one of the most pressing problems (and the most topical issue in social research) is that of security on many different levels (Zinchenko, 2011; Zinchenko & Zotova, 2014), along with security-related phenomena, such as terrorism (Zinchenko, Shaigerova, & Shilko, 2011; Chaiguerova, & Soldatova, 2013; Soldatova, Shaigerova, & Shlyapnikov, 2008), emergency situations (Soldatova, Zinchenko, & Shaigerova, 2011), extremism (Zinchenko, 2014), social stability (Dontsov & Perelygina, 2013), xenophobia (Soldatova, Nestik, & Shaigerova, 2011), interethnic and inter cultural communication (Po?ppe? & Bao, 2011), migration of large groups of people and their adaptation to the host culture (Soldatova & Shaigerova, 2002; Soldatova & Shaigerova, 2015).

At the current stage of societal development, which has given exceptionally complex tasks to social science, the resources traditionally used in social research within the classical and non-classical approaches are insufficient. To overcome the limitations of these approaches, new frameworks are proposed, for example, the historical-evolutionary approach in psychology (Asmolov et al., 2014)

The postnonclassical paradigm has increasingly become a conceptual basis for social research in various fields (Mezzich et al., 2013; Pervichko & Zinchenko, 2014; Zinchenko & Pervichko, 2012a,b; Zinchenko & Pervichko, 2013). The use of the postnonclassical paradigm is not limited to a simple change in the conceptual framework of social research. Complex developing systems, e.g., subjects of social research activities, require changes in the paradigm at all levels of research: from the statement of problem to the elaboration of methods and analysis of the research data. In this regard, there is a strong need for reviewing the philosophical and general scientific methodology, as well as the specific scientific methodology. The search for new research methods, technologies and techniques plays a crucial role in this process.

One of the most promising methods that has rapidly developed in recent years is the technology of virtual reality (VR). This relatively recently created technology, is widely applied to both natural science and social science research. In-depth analyses of the methodological peculiarities of applying VR technology to psychological research show that it can be efficiently used in cognitive, organizational, sport and many other branches of psychology (Zinchenko et al., 2010). Research activities performed by means of CAVE and HMD systems of virtual reality have made it possible to obtain new data about the processes of the formation of cognitive space maps (Lakhtionova & Menshikova, 2013), the perception of 3D optical illusions (Menshikova, 2013) and testing of vestibular system dysfunctions (Kovalev et al., 2014). At the same time, the potential of VR technology has not been fully realized, and its application requires a deeper, well-rounded analysis.

We examine the possibilities of using VR technology for the resolution of current tasks in social research from the perspective of the postnonclassical approach.

Researching social processes through the use of VR environments

The timely character of VR-assisted research of social processes is determined by some scientific and applied tasks that are exceptionally difficult or impossible to fulfill by means of classical research methods (e. …

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