Researchers Use Second Life to Gauge People's Green Attitudes

second life eco attitude photo

Photo via PhysOrg

Academics at the University of Derby, UK, figure that there's no better place to study how people react to green issues than in the alternative universe of Second Life. They've created a house set up with a range of sustainable features, from wind turbines to recycling bins, gardens and energy meters. Second Lifers enter the house and begin completing tasks set out for them. The goal is to find out how likely people are (in real life) to do the green things that help lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. The problem is some people think, or say, they're greener than they really are -- they might say they're good about recycling or buying organic food, but in reality they shirk the actions.

So, the new study will gauge attitudes and beliefs along with actions in a virtual world. Some of the tasks they'll complete include figuring out if the microwave is more efficient than the oven and under what circumstances, discovering which avatar in the house has used the most water and why, and determining why an avatar in the house isn't recycling correctly.

While Second Life avatars been accused of using as much energy as a real Brazilian person, the virtual world is still useful for many eco-friendly actions, from showing people what it's like to be in the middle of a flood caused by climate change, to setting up places for people to participate in environmental activism. The researchers hope that by next year, they'll have a better understanding of what makes people be green, and have some solutions for real-world change.

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