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kURAGE: Investigation of civil courage and its promotion through playful experiences

|   2017

On the basis of the psychological factors identified in two field experiments, playful concepts for the promotion of civil courage are developed.

The promotion of civil courage in the population is becoming increasingly important due to recent events (such as sexual assaults). In everyday life, there are social situations that require the intervention of passers-by and their help for one or more people in need. With the awareness of the plight itself, passers-by must weigh up the justification and necessity of intervention without endangering their own safety.

Within the scope of this project, factors of influence on prosocial behaviour that have been neglected so far are investigated in relation with the construct of moral courage. While civil courage and other forms of prosocial behaviour have similar preconditions, it is possible that certain factors may have varying degrees of impact due to the different motivations and nature of civil courage: it is to be expected that taking an opposition role can be favoured or hindered by age, gender, culture and values. Special attention will also be paid to specific personality factors and the general attitude towards the social and economic future. Stability and attachment to a given group was identified as important factors influencing prosocial behaviour. Research is therefore being carried out into the extent to which personal attitudes and socio-economic stability and security have relevant effects with particularly regard to the current economic and social development. Two realistic field experiments serve to weight the influencing factors previously identified in an extensive meta-analysis. Furthermore, realistic scenarios are developed in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), Division II/13 (Civil and Civil Protection). Based on the results of the field experiments, a concept for an interactive, persuasive game will be developed to simulate situations in which intervention or civil courageous action is desired. 

The game concept is intended to overcome limitations of currently used training concepts and thus effectively promote prosocial behaviour in situations requiring moral courage. Many of the existing trainings are designed for established and existing groups and focus on a selective use in a group situation. The development of technology-supported training and intervention concepts, which enable the development of playful skills for action and "rehearsal", independent of a specific group situation, is therefore to be regarded as particularly relevant. Situations in which intervention on the basis of prosocial behaviour is necessary also often occur outside of group situations (e. g. on the way to work). The elimination of the group situation also creates an environment in which it is easier to leave the usual social role. Technology-based trainings can also offer a better experience of self-protection and consequences through simulations and multiple experiences of certain situations requiring civic courage than is the case in classical situation theatre. The technological component conceived in kURAGE makes it possible to try out alternative actions without endangering oneself and to gain experience for real situations. The results obtained in this way can be implemented by the BMI as innovative and playful methods to promote moral courage.

Stephanie Schwarz AIT 
Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH   

Giefinggasse 2, 1210 Wien   
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