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Journal Article

Virtual reality for criminologists: A road map


Van Gelder,  Jean-Louis
Criminology, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Max Planck Society;

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Van Gelder, J.-L. (2023). Virtual reality for criminologists: A road map. Crime and Justice, 52, 1-49. doi:10.1086/726691.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-BB80-F
Virtual reality (VR) technology offers unique and as yet largely untapped potential for criminology. It can address problems that have traditionally plagued the field, provide an ecologically valid alternative for conventional research methods, and create novel possibilities for theory testing, and it allows for the study of phenomena that are difficult to research in the real world for ethical, safety, or practical reasons. This essay reviews the budding research literature using VR in criminogenic contexts, as well as relevant research from other disciplines, and explains the technology’s basic features, current limitations, and ethical challenges. It concludes that within the foreseeable future, VR may become the criminological equivalent of the petri dish, offering the possibility to study the unfolding of highly complex behavioral processes in very detailed ways and help achieve step changes in our understanding of crime.