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Looking for the soft spot in “The Iron Triangle”: Explorative research into the effect of serious gaming on the level of empathy and the experienced client contractor collaboration of professionals in the construction industry

  • Ambagts, Janneke (author)
Publication Date
Jan 26, 2024
TU Delft Repository
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This master thesis addresses the challenge of project performance in the Civil Engineering (CE) sector, emphasizing the significance of collaboration, communication, and understanding among interdisciplinary project teams. Focusing on the role of empathy in contractor-client collaborations, the study investigates the potential impact of serious gaming on enhancing the level of empathy of CE professionals.<br/>The research uses a mixed-method pre- and post-test design, utilizing a quasi-experimental approach without a control group. The study uses the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and the short version of the Empathy Quotient (EQ short) questionnaire to measure the individual self-reported level of empathy before and after participants engage in the serious game 'Fouten maken Moed.' A subscale of the IRI showed a slight decrease in the level of empathy that possibly can be explained by a growth in awareness. While quantitative analysis did not reveal a significant change in overall empathy scores, qualitative findings suggest positive influences on interpersonal dynamics, openness, and talkativeness among participants, aspects that relate to the concept of empathy. <br/>Despite the limitations that arise from researching a difficult to operationalise main concept (empathy), a small sample size and having no control group. It can still be concluded that the intervention, including the serious game, created an environment that was conducive for participants to share personal information and vulnerabilities, fostering a sense of approachability and relatability. It seems like the game can, if facilitated well, function as a context-setter for Project Follow Up (PFU) or Project Start Up (PSU) meetings, enhancing collaboration between contractors and clients.<br/>Although the study acknowledges the fact that results cannot be generalised, it recommends refining empathy measurement methods and enhancing training interventions' briefing and debriefing aspects. Future research should include more extensive experiments with control groups to better isolate the impact of serious gaming on empathy levels in the CE sector, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the game's potential contributions to collaboration and project performance through empathy<br/> / CME5200 / Civil Engineering | Construction Management and Engineering

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