Written by Nancy Lee, as part of her Social Marketing Sightings theme.
Sighted on: Social Marketing Quarterly, March 2023 pp.45-66.

Social Issue: Homelessness
Social Marketing Strategy: Using Immersive Technology to Enhance Perceptions of the Realities of Homelessness

Homelessness is clearly an ongoing and current “wicked problem” in the U.S., with more than 300,000 individuals homeless on any given day. An article in SMQ in March 2023, discussed results of a recent rigorous research study at the University of South Florida that assessed whether Interactive 360-degree Videos and Virtual Reality tools can increase support for societal initiatives to address homelessness.
The study compared two approaches to influencing attitudes toward and intent to help homeless individuals:

  1. Traditional Technologies:  Using first-person narratives via two traditional technologies (Photo & Text, and 2D Video)
  2. Immersive Technologies: Using 360-degree Video and VR Headset Video

Results concluded that

“Virtual reality technologies appear to provide a bridge that connects those who experience homelessness with those who have the capacity or desire to help. By transporting users into the lives of homes people, VR provides a mechanism for individual who would otherwise remain in their silos to more fully engage in how others struggle with various issues.”

In other words, this technology intervention made the problem that the homeless were experiencing “more real”, motivating action.


  1. C. Frechette, et al., “Immersive Technology as a Social Marketing tool: Exploring the Impact of 30-Video & Virtual Reality on Intent to Help and Attitudes
    Toward the Homeless” (March 2023),  
    Social Marketing Quarterly, pp.45-66.
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid., p.59.




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