Before I can discuss how interactivity creates empathy, I must explain what empathy and interactivity are. According to dictionary.com, empathy is defined as the intellectual identification with a feeling, thought, or attitude. Interactivity allows two-way transfer of information between a user and technology such as a computer or television.
A perfect example of interactivity that creates empathy is the Forum Theatre. People and participation.net describes the Forum Theatre is an interactive form of theatre that encourages audience interaction and explores different options for dealing with a problem or issue.
So here is how the Forum Theatre works. The audience sees a play in which the main character is unable to overcome an obstacle. However, what makes this special is that the obstacle is often based on something that is important to the community or a shared life experience everyone has been through.
What really sets this play apart from others is the voice that the people have. People and participation.net describes that the audience is allowed to make suggestions on the outcome of the play after it is finished. The actors explore the results of these choices with the audience creating a kind of theatrical debate, in which experiences and ideas are rehearsed and shared, generating both solidarity and a sense of empowerment.
The Forum Theatre gives people a voice. The experience is powerful because it creates a community of strangers to come together and overcome to try to solve a problem or situation. With the participation of the audience, new ideas and solutions are created to solve existing problems. The theatre setting can be a very powerful tool to explore difficult issues.
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