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In order to bridge interdisciplinary differences in Presence research and to establish connections between Presence and “older” concepts of psychology and communication, a theoretical model of the formation of Spatial Presence is proposed. It is applicable to the exposure to different media and intended to unify the existing efforts to develop a theory of Presence. The model includes assumptions about attention allocation, mental models, and involvement, and considers the role of media factors and user characteristics as well, thus incorporating much previous work. It is argued that a commonly accepted model of Spatial Presence is the only solution to secure further progress within the international, interdisciplinary and multiple-paradigm community of Presence research.
A Process Model of the Formation
of Spatial Presence Experiences
Werner Wirth
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Tilo Hartmann
Hanover University of Music and Drama, Germany
Saskia Böcking
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Peter Vorderer
University of Southern California
Christoph Klimmt
Hanover University of Music and Drama, Germany
Holger Schramm
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Timo Saari, Jari Laarni, Niklas Ravaja
Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, Finland
Feliz Ribeiro Gouveia, Frank Biocca, Ana Sacau
Universidad Fernando Pessoa, Porto, Portugal
Lutz Jäncke, Thomas Baumgartner, Petra Jäncke
University of Zurich, Switzerland
In order to bridge interdisciplinary differences in Presence research and to establish
connections between Presence and “older” concepts of psychology and communica-
tion, a theoretical model of the formation of Spatial Presence is proposed. It is appli-
cable to the exposure to different media and intended to unify the existing efforts to
develop a theory of Presence. The model includes assumptions about attention allo-
cation, mental models, and involvement, and considers the role of media factors and
Copyright © 2007, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Correspondence should be sent to Werner Wirth, Department of Communication and Media Re-
search, University of Zurich, Andreasstrasse 15, CH-8050 Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail: w.wirth@
user characteristics as well, thus incorporating much previous work. It is argued that
a commonly accepted model of Spatial Presence is the only solution to secure further
progress within the international, interdisciplinary and multiple-paradigm commu-
nity of Presence research.
Unsystematic observation of recent years’ theoretical dynamics in new media re-
search clearly reveals the rapid career of the concept of Presence (e.g., Biocca,
Freeman, & Ijsselstein, in press; Bracken, 2005; Lee, 2004; Lombard & Ditton,
1997; Steuer, 1992; Reeves & Nass, 1996). Presence has emerged as the theoreti-
cal response to the challenges that new media and virtual reality impose on com-
munication scholars’ understanding of how users process and experience media
form and content (Biocca & Delaney, 1995). These challenges arise from new me-
dia’s immersive capacities, that is, their capability to make users believe that they
are personally and physically “present” in the displayed environment.
Early approaches to this experiential phenomenon were solely driven by a tech-
nological (rather than theoretical) perspective (e.g., Steuer, 1992) and failed to ac-
knowledge that “Presence” displays striking similarities with existing concepts in
communication and media psychology, most importantly, attention (e.g., Anderson
& Burns, 1991) and involvement (e.g., Perse, 1998), but also a number of further
constructs,suchasperceivedreality (e.g., Shapiro & Chock, 2003) or transportation
(e.g., Green & Brock, 2000). More recent conceptualizations (e.g., Freeman, 2004;
Schubert, Friedmann, & Regenbrecht, 2001) have, mostly based on factor-analytic
evidence from survey data, considered some of those similarities, but argue for con-
ceptual elements that distinguish Presence from the existing terms. However, these
distinctions have not been elaborated on the basis of an integrative, theory-based
model of what Presence is and how it emerges during media use.
Because a wide range of academic disciplines (from computer sciences to
neuro- and social sciences to philosophy) is interested in “Presence”, substantial
terminological and (meta)theoretical confusion ranks around the concept
(Hartmann et al., in press; Lombard & Ditton, 1997). Most importantly, some
(broad) descriptions of Presence are very similar (if not equal) to human percep-
tion of nonmediated reality (Mantovani & Riva, 1999), which in turn would render
Presence redundant with basic concepts of general psychology (e.g., “perception”,
“spatial orientation”). Alternative conceptualizations (e.g., Lombard & Ditton,
1997) require a mediated environment as precondition for Presence to occur, but
still fail to explicate the differences between Presence and other concepts.
Theoretical confusions of this kind have prevented the psychological explica-
tion of Presence in terms of commonalities and differences with the available theo-
ries of user responses to media. Consequently, subtypes of Presence have been dis-
cussed that allow a more precise definition, clear explication, and empirical
measurement. The subtype that is closest to the original formulation of Presence
(Minski, 1980) is “Spatial Presence” (Ijsselstein, de Ridder, Freeman, & Avons,
2000). It is commonly referred to as “a sense of being there” which “occurs when
part or all of a person’s perception fails to accurately acknowledge the role of tech-
nology that makes it appear that s/he is in a physical location and environment dif-
ferent from her/his actual location and environment in the physical world” (Inter-
national Society for Presence Research, 2001). This definition is virtually identical
to the older notion of “telepresence” (Draper, Kaber, & Usher, 1998; Steuer, 1992),
but the latter term is, as will be discussed in this paper, more general, because it is
independent from specific media technologies (i.e., virtual reality) that have typi-
cally been discussed in the context of “telepresence”.
The main characteristic of Spatial Presence is the conviction of being located in
a mediated environment. This property makes Spatial Presence an important vari-
able in numerous fields of communication applications. Spatial Presence can be
(1) a required facilitator of media effects, for instance,
in medical tele-operation that is only effective if the surgeon feels located at
the site of the patient (e.g., Westwood, Hoffman, Robb, & Stredney, 1999),
in simulation-based learning that can only succeed if the learner feels located
within the simulated environment (e.g., Regian, Shebilske, & Monk, 1992).
Moreover, Spatial Presence can (2) intensify existing media effects, such as en-
joyment of using entertainment media (for instance, in video games, Klimmt &
Vorderer, 2003; Tamborini & Skalski, 2006) coordinated action in organizations,
which is improved if members of the organization feel present in the shared virtual
space that videoconferencing and other organizational communication tools pro-
vide (e.g., Finn, Sellen, & Wilbur, 1997), successful psychotherapy, which benefits
from clients’ perception to be present in a simulated environment relevant to their
disorder (Rizzo, Buckwalter, Neumann, Kesselman, & Thiebaux, 1998).
The theoretical discrepancy between current notions of Spatial Presence and
existing theories of user responses to media, as well as the potential importance of
Spatial Presence for media effects research, demand an integrative reconstruction
of Spatial Presence and its development during media use. Such a reconstruction
can isolate the properties of Spatial Presence that differentiate the concept from
similar terms and inform research on the diverse communication applications re-
lated to Spatial Presence. We therefore propose a model of Spatial Presence that in-
tegrates existing theories from psychology and communication, which have pri-
marily been applied to “old media”, into a unified process structure. In turn, we
argue that Spatial Presence is not bound to virtual reality, but can also occur in us-
ers of conventional media, such as books (e.g., Schubert & Crusius, 2002) or tele-
vision (Bracken, 2005). Metaconceptually, our model moves beyond existing ex-
plications of Spatial Presence (or telepresence), because it (1) incrementally builds
on existing bodies of theory from communication and psychology and (2) devel-
ops a process-oriented view that allows for explanatory and predictive application.
Lee (2004, p. 37) defines Presence as “a psychological state in which virtual
(para-authentic or artificial) objects are experienced as actual objects in either sen-
sory or nonsensory ways”. While this definition is in line with the general notion of
Presence as “perceptual illusion of nonmediation” (Lombard & Ditton, 1997), it
does not mention the experience of being located in the midst of the mediated (vir-
tual) objects, which is the conceptual core of Spatial Presence and is reflected in
the other common metaphor of Presence as “being there” (Lombard & Ditton,
1997; see also Steuer, 1992).
The focus on perceived self-location in the mediated environment is evident
in alternative definitions of Spatial Presence. Biocca (1997), for example, argues
that VR environments address several sensory channels synchronously and thus
facilitate sensory engagement, motor engagement, and sensor motor engagement
(Biocca, 1997). These processes enhance the user’s feeling of embodiment – the
experience of being located in the mediated environment. Such feelings of
self-location may also arise without much external stimulation: The “book prob-
lem” (Schubert & Crusius, 2002) refers to the fact that feelings of “being there”
can also occur in readers of texts, because readers can imagine very vividly to be
present in the book’s world. More precisely, readers may construct a mental
model of their bodies and of possible actions in the environment described by
the book (Biocca, 1997). Glenberg (1997) integrates mental models and possible
actions within their “embodied cognition” framework. Mental representations of
mediated spaces, which can include assumptions of what kind of actions are
possible in a given space, are required for Spatial Presence. In most cases, then,
Spatial Presence is an experience which can be enriched by, but does not com-
pletely depend on, external (media-based) information such as visual, auditory,
haptic, or proprioceptive impulses and feedbacks (Gibson, 1973; Kebeck, 1997).
The more senses a media environment activates in its users the more likely it is
that the receivers will feel like they “are” in the environment. Researchers in the
field of Presence describe features that give rise to Presence as immersive prop-
erties of the media. For example a media system that offers display and tracking
technologies that increasingly match and support the spatial fidelity of
real-world perception and action is considered immersive (Bystrom, Barfield, &
Hendrix, 1999; Draper, Kaber, & Usher, 1998; Ijsselstein, 2004; Slater, 2003).
According to Ijsselstein (2004), Presence is conceptualized as the experiential
counterpart of immersion. In short: If the media provide high immersive technol-
ogies, humans may respond with feelings of Spatial Presence. However, if
immersive impulses are not provided by the media product, internal processes,
for example, imagination, can compensate for that deficit in external stimulation
– at least to a certain degree. Therefore, Spatial Presence is not limited to the ex-
perience of using sensory rich VR-technology – it can also occur when using
less immersive media (i.e., stimuli that control the sensory input to all modalities
of the user to a smaller degree; Draper, Kaber, & Usher, 1998), or even
text-based media with no direct sensory input (Lee, 2004).
In sum, Spatial Presence is regarded as a two-dimensional construct. The core
dimension is the sensation of being physically situated within the spatial environ-
ment portrayed by the medium (“self-location”). The second dimension refers to
the perceived possibilities to act: An individual who is experiencing Spatial Pres-
ence will perceive only those action possibilities that are relevant to the mediated
space, but will not be aware of actions that are linked to her/his real environment.
However, the list of phenomena defining Spatial Presence does not need to include
the user’s experience of nonmediation, i.e., the deactivation of cognitive informa-
tion that defines a given situation as a media exposure. Rather, the experience is
distinct from Spatial Presence because it can occur regardless of spatial informa-
tion processing (Short, Williams, & Christie, 1976). Users can experience
nonmediation without feeling spatially present. Nevertheless, throughout this arti-
cle we argue that nonmediation might be construed as consequence of Spatial
Similarto Slater(2002), weregardthe stateof SpatialPresence asbinary (on/off).
Based on these considerations, we propose the following definition: Spatial Pres-
enceis a binaryexperience, during which perceivedself-location and, inmost cases,
perceived action possibilities are connected to a mediated spatial environment, and
mental capacities are bound by the mediated environment instead of reality.
This definition is in harmony with most existing definitions (e.g., ISPR, 2001;
IJsselsteijn et al., 2000; Kim & Biocca, 1997; Lessiter et al., 2001; Schubert,
Friedmann, & Regenbrecht, 1999, 2001), but is more explicit in suggesting neces-
sary conditions (and contributing processes) for Spatial Presence that must be con-
sidered in the development of theoretical models. Specifically, a general model of
Spatial Presence should be based on the integration of related psychological con-
cepts that exist, such as attention and involvement.
The model is organized around two critical steps towards the experience of Spatial
Presence. The first step is the construction of a mental model of the (mediated) sit-
uation that includes space-related information (in a sense, on this level, users deal
with the questions “is this stimulus a space/room?” and “if yes, what kind of space/
room is it?”). This process is based on attention allocation, that is, the devotion of
mental capacities to the media product, as suggested in our definition of Spatial
Presence. The “spatial situation model” (SSM) is a precondition for Spatial Pres-
ence to occur. The second level of the model refers to the actual formation of Spa-
tial Presence, which emerges from the SSM through the confirmation of a specific
perceptual hypothesis, the so-called “medium-as-PERF-hypothesis” (PERF = pri-
mary egocentric reference frame; in a sense, on the second level, users deal with
the question “am I located in this space/room?”). Experiencing the mediated envi-
ronment as PERF implies perceived self-location in that environment, and, in most
cases, noticing possible actions within the environment (see the definition of Spa-
tial Presence above). Various |media factors and user characteristics are in effect at
both stages of the model and may support or impede the processes that lead to the
state of Spatial Presence (see Fig. 1). These processes will be explicated in the fol-
lowing sections.
Attention Allocation and the Construction
of a Spatial Situation Model (SSM)
Because Spatial Presence is considered to be an experience that only occurs during
media exposure, a model of its formation must consider the basic processes of per-
ception and cognition on which higher forms of experience can be constructed
FIGURE 1 Visualization of the two-level model of Spatial Presence.
(Darken, Allard, & Achille, 1998; Taylor, 1997). Only those users who pay atten-
tion to the mediated environment will experience Spatial Presence. Users’ atten-
tion can be directed towards a mediated stimulus for two reasons: (1) The medium
can trigger attention allocation without requiring the user to want to be attentive,
which is called involuntary attention allocation, and (2) users may devote their at-
tention towards the media product because they want to, for example, because it
appears to be interesting or enjoyable. This process is labeled controlled attention
Media factors and involuntary attention allocation
Certain attributes of a media product cause involuntary, unintended attention pro-
cesses of specific or nonspecific selection. In the case of specific selection, the me-
diated environment offers features that meet a user’s needs, motives or interests.
During nonspecific selection, in contrast, novel stimuli or rapid and surprising
changes of the stimulus trigger attention processes such as orienting reactions
(Posner, 1980). They arise from a comparison of stimulus characteristics with the
neuronal representation of the previous level. Berlyne (1960) called these stimulus
characteristics collative properties, which also included novelty, surprise, com-
plexity and relevance (although relevance might be a textual rather than formal
property, and accordingly tied to specific selection processes).
At the first stage of involuntary attention, an orientation reaction is triggered,
preparing the sensory organs and the information processing system for input
(Lang, Simons, & Balaban, 1997; Öhmann, 1979, 1997). Spontaneous eye and
head movements towards the presumed direction of the stimuli source occur. The
organism is activated. Subsequently, the second stage of involuntary attention
commences, most often accompanied by exploratory behavior. The activation
level in the cortical areas is elevated, and higher processes of attention and aware-
ness are activated (Schmidt & Thews, 1997). Consequently, the user’s attention es-
tablishes a relatively stable stream of stimuli.
However, attention must constantly be bound by the medium and may not be in-
terrupted if higher cognitive processes, such as building a mental representation of
a mediated space, are to occur. Otherwise, adjacent cognitive processes might not
emerge, or may collapse, before they reach the required intensity. Therefore, the
media factors relevant to Spatial Presence are the variables that affect both
short-term orienting responses and more persistent attention allocation.
The literature on Spatial Presence does not identify media factors which specif-
ically address attentional processes, but lists those factors within a larger set of de-
terminants of Spatial Presence. In contrast, attention-eliciting message character-
istics have been isolated in television research (e.g., Huston & Wright, 1983).
Findings from this line of research indicate that short-term orienting responses are
primarily affected by form (as opposed to content) variables; the cognitive pro-
cesses involved are supposed to be very fast-paced and automatic, making a more
complex content-oriented interpretation of the presented stimuli improbable (An-
derson & Burns, 1991). With respect to more persistent forms of attention alloca-
tion, both form and content variables are expected to be important. In research on
Spatial Presence, labels like “sensory factors” (Witmer & Singer, 1998), “sensory
richness” or “vividness” (Steuer, 1992) refer to media factors that contribute to en-
during attention allocation. The underlying assumption is that the more sensory in-
formation a particular media product emits, the more likely it is that users’ atten-
tion allocation will persist, as the media product covers more and/or larger portions
of the users’ perceptual range. More specifically, the number of sensory modalities
that a medium addresses is regarded as a factor of attention attraction (“breadth,
Steuer, 1992, p. 81). The “depth” of the presented information, that is, the amount
of data the media product encodes within one given modality (Steuer, 1992;
Biocca, 1997), is also important. In sum, a continuous stream of highly detailed in-
formation should sustain users’ involuntary attention allocation more effectively
than an interrupted and/or less-detailed stream of input. In contrast, however, an
excess of overly complex and detailed information can cause sensory overload and
overstrain the organism, producing fatigue instead of presence (de Rijk, Schreurs,
& Bensing, 1999).
Media content affects the persistence of attention allocation as well. For exam-
ple, Anderson and Burns (1991) report humor and comprehensibility as content
variables that influence (young) viewers’attention to television. However, the pro-
cessing of most content-related features of a media product also includes more
complex processes of involvement (see below), and the boundary between mere at-
tention and higher cognitive involvement is somewhat difficult to define. Never-
theless, enduring involuntary attention allocation is facilitated by content variables
to a certain extent (Hawkins et al., 2002).
Interest, other user characteristics,
and controlled attention allocation
Attention processes are not affected by external sources of information alone. Indi-
viduals may voluntarily direct their attention towards a media product even if there
are no salient stimuli which trigger such behavior. If, for example, the content of
the media product matches the domain-specific interest of a given receiver, his/her
motivation to attend to the product will increase. Domain-specific interest is the re-
lationship between an individual’s motivational dispositions and the content or
issue of an object (Krapp, 1993). If a person finds an object or activity interesting,
s/he does not require motivational resources to sustain engagement in it (Hidi,
1995). Thus personal interest may affect a media user’s situational motivation to-
wards a media product and its content, and lead to controlled attention allocation.
Domain-specific interest may not be the only trait factor relevant to attention al-
location. From television research, intelligence, gender and age are known user
variables that determine (controlled) attention allocation (Anderson & Burns,
1991); however, most related studies have been conducted with children. As con-
trolled attention is primarily driven by motivational processes, we regard do-
main-specific interest as the most important trait here. Nevertheless, it is possible
to expand the model to include other personality factors that also affect attention
allocation to media products.
In addition to trait variables, user states may also influence the intended alloca-
tion of attention; however, given the unlimited number of states (e.g., fatigue or
various emotional conditions) that might be considered relevant here, no predic-
tions about the influence of state variables on controlled attention allocation
should be included in a general model of Spatial Presence. Rather, the importance
of state variables for users’motivational disposition should be noted, as these may
affect processes of controlled attention (see as an example for the effects of fa-
tigue: Vervaeck, Deboeck, Hueting, & Soetens, 1982).
Combinations of both paths of attention allocation
In most cases, media-induced (involuntary) and the user-directed (controlled) pro-
cesses of attention allocation are not independent of each other. Both types of at-
tention may be involved in the development of Spatial Presence, but their relative
contributions may vary. Specifically, we presume that intended and focused pro-
cesses of attention are negatively related to the immersiveness of a mediated repre-
sentation. For example, during reading, Presence requires motivational processes,
because reading is an active procedure that may hardly be sustained without moti-
vation. On the other hand, a virtual environment may involuntarily attract users’at-
tention, thus diminishing the role of motivational processes towards experiencing
The concept of Spatial Situation Models (SSMs)
Once the audience’s attention is directed towards the media product and away from
the real environment, the medium can unfold its capabilities to induce Spatial Pres-
ence. Many media products contain cues that enable attentive users to establish
cognitive representations of space. For example, a television broadcast can display
some white surfaces separated by black lines, which would make the viewers see a
room with white walls. Attentive media users will process spatial cues and incor-
porate them into their mental representation of the depicted space. We call this pro-
cess the formation of a Spatial Situation Model (SSM). An SSM is a mental model
(Johnson-Laird, 1983; Sanford & Garrod, 1981) of the spatial environment that the
individual constructs based on (1) spatial cues she/he processes and (2) relevant
personal spatial memories and cognitions (McNamara 1986). Depending on the
skill and perspective of different receivers, mental models of the same space may
be constructed differently (Dutke, 1994).
The formation of SSMs includes processes of construction and interpretation
(Oostendorp, 1994; Rinck, Hähnel, Bower, & Glowalla, 1997). Mental models de-
velop gradually while the receiver is processing the represented object or domain,
but at all times, the model is complete (Schnotz, 1988). Media users develop their
SSM further, as they integrate the observed spatial cues with their existing spatial
The first spatial cues perceived trigger the activation of so-called spatial scenar-
ios – rather complex spatial cognitions. The media users perceive some spatial
cues, organize them into a spatial structure and “search” for a suitable spatial sce-
nario in their mind. The activated scenario contains the newly perceived spatial
cues (bottom-up components) and, in addition, “empty slots”, which the users fill
in with their previous knowledge of spatial environments. The latter elements are
concept-managed (top-down components) and are inserted by means of plausible
assumptions and prior experience. Subsequently, individuals perceive more of the
spatial cues offered by the media product. While these cues are processed, media
users continuously evaluate the congruence of their SSM with the perceived spatial
environment. If there are major discrepancies between the perceived spatial data
and the SSM, the model is restructured accordingly; it may be extended, specified
or replaced by a new model entirely (van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983).
To construct an SSM from perception and memory, users must have a “library”
of spatial experiences in their mind and must be able to imagine objects and spaces
(i.e., they must possess figural imagination). Both spatial knowledge and spatial
imagination become more relevant if the mediated representation of the space is
less intuitive and more fragmented (e.g., when reading textual descriptions of
Spatial cues as media factors supporting
the construction of SSMs
Many media characteristics (both form and content), which previous research has
presumed to facilitate Spatial Presence, should be regarded as determinants of the
SSM that media users build from the mediated information. The central mental
construction process at the first level of Spatial Presence formation refers to
whether or not the user believes that the media stimulus depicts a space, and also to
the way a space is imagined, i.e., either how many aspects/details are salient that
fill the imagination as well as how plausible and coherent the imagined space is.
In general, spatial cues can be regarded as the central building blocks of SSMs.
Spatial cues have traditionally been used within media contexts to create the illu-
sion of spatial arrangements. For example, for centuries painters have applied per-
spective to their drawings in order to evoke the sensation of depth (Cutting, 1997;
IJsselstein, 2002). A broad range of spatial cues has been introduced in the litera-
ture (e.g., Surdick, Davis, King, & Hodges, 1997; Barfield, Hendrix, Bjorneseth,
Kaczmarek, & Lotens, 1995). Most spatial cues are linked to the visual modality,
for example, static monocular cues like occlusion, height in the visual field, rela-
tive size, relative density and texture effects, aerial perspective and relative bright-
ness, foreshortening and accommodation (Cutting, 1997; Gibson, 1973; Murch &
Woodworth, 1977; Surdick, Davis, King, & Hodges, 1997); dynamic monocular
cues like motion parallax (Faubert, 2001) or binocular cues like stereopsis (Murch
& Woodworth, 1977, p. 157) and convergence (Cutting, 1997). But spatial cues
have been identified for other modalities as well, for example, spatial audio
(Hendrix & Barfield, 1996), haptic cues (Sallnäs, 1999), or vestibular cues
(Riecke, von der Heyde, & Bülthoff, 2001). In the text modality, spatial cues are
connected to both language form and content. A more complete review of spatial
cues is provided by Vorderer et al. (2003).
SSMs can differ with regard to their (1) accuracy or internal logical consistency
and (2) the richness or quantity of the spatial elements (e.g., objects) they cover.
The more spatial cues a stimulus offers, the easier the construction of a rich SSM
should be. In addition to quantity, the conciseness and consistency of spatial cues
affect SSM construction. Imagine, for example, a visual stimulus field that shows a
fluent color gradient without any sharp edges, borders or color contrasts
(“null-stimulus,” Zeltzer, 1992, p. 128). The user would not be able to discriminate
a single object, and the stimulus would evoke no illusion of spatiality at all. Thus,
on a very basic level, contrast is necessary to enable the users to identify edges,
lines, and objects. This is a precondition for a spatial perception or imagination
(Zeltzer, 1992). In order to extract spatial cues, users must be able to assemble dis-
criminated elements (e.g., lines or sounds) into meaningful objects, which in turn
must be cognitively linked to each other. Such a “sensory integration” (Witmer &
Singer, 1998) is probable, for example, if a quick sequence of simple stimuli pre-
sented in the same modality can be interpreted as a meaningful whole: “In the case
of the auditory system, our ability to recognize the particular sounds, such as those
of different musical instruments or different voices, results from the simultaneous
perception of a complex combination of amplitude and frequency cues, as well as
differences in arrival time and intensity between the signals from the two ears (see
Wenzel, 1992)” (Steuer, 1992, p. 83).
In multimodal media environments, the information provided must be conso-
nant across the modalities in order to increase consistency of the SSM. Audio and
video information about a virtual room should be synchronized and designed to
“make sense” to the user (Witmer & Singer, 1998; Held & Durlach, 1992). The im-
portance of meaningful interpretation of space-related information provided by the
media product is closely associated with the plausibility that the user can detect in
the perceived stimulus (Lombard & Ditton, 1997). Plausibility, as it is meant here,
implies that the objects, for example, should be scaled in a proper way, and they
should be colored and textured in accordance with the user’s spatial knowledge, in
order to be accepted as “spatial building blocks” and applied to the construction of
a coherent SSM (Gregory, 1980; Neisser, 1976; Slater, 2002).
In sum, media offerings that display a variety of concise spatial cues (preferably
within different perceptual channels), which are linked in a consistent and plausi-
ble manner, should evoke both richer and more internal consistent SSMs than
those presenting only a few, diffuse or inconsistent cues. One could argue that in-
congruent media offerings are exceedingly vivid, and therefore should attract at-
tention. In fact, incongruent cues do attract attention, but in our view they cannot
contribute to a strong and coherent SSM (Zwaan & Radvansky, 1998). Later in this
article we argue why richness and consistency might be regarded as pillars of the
strength of a SSM for the formation of Spatial Presence. Albeit, we also assume
that the perception of media offerings that provide an unfavorable setting of spatial
cues can result in strong SSMs, because in addition to media factors, internal pro-
cesses based on user characteristics also affect the construction and quality of the
Spatial Imagery as personological factor
in SSM construction
The processing capabilities of the individual user partly determine whether he/she
will establish a solid and vivid mental representation of the spatial arrangements
portrayed by a given media product. Most important is spatial visual imagery, one
of the skills that belong to the construct of spatial ability (Hegarty, Richardson,
Montello, Lovelace, & Subbiah, 2002). The ability to produce vivid spatial images
may support the formation of SSMs, as it increases the cognitive salience of spatial
structures and makes it easier to “understand” the spatial quality of the mediated
environment. Moreover, individuals with higher spatial visual imagery may find it
easier to fill in missing space-related information from their memory, thus increas-
ing the richness and/or internal consistency of the SSM if the spatial data provided
by the media product is poor (Dean & Morris, 2003). Similar to user variables that
may affect controlled attention (see above), it is possible to identify other trait and
also state variables that are equally relevant for the building of SSMs compared to
spatial visual imagery.
Second Step: From SSMs to Spatial Presence
The existence of an SSM is conceptually distinct from the sensation of Spatial
Presence, because SSMs are mental representations, whereas Spatial Presence is
regarded as an experiential state. Users who have built an SSM may or may not feel
as though they are a part of the mediated spatial surroundings represented in the
SSM. Additional cognitive and/or perceptual processes must occur in order for a
user to move from an SSM to Spatial Presence. To clarify, determining whether or
not a SSM is constructed indicates whether the observed stimulus is a room or
space to the user at all, whereas analyzing the experience of Spatial Presence in-
volves assessing whether the user is self-located in an already existing room or
Once the media users have constructed a stable SSM, the question arises (either
consciously or unconsciously) where they subjectively position their own physical
experience within the two spatial surroundings available to them: Does s/he feel
located in the mediated spatial environment (which means that s/he has entered the
state of Spatial Presence), or is s/he staying within the “real” space (i.e., Presence
does not occur)? In perceptual terms, the individual must define her/his primary
egocentric reference frame (PERF, see Riecke & von der Heyde, 2002). The theory
of perceptual hypotheses (TPH; Bruner & Postman, 1949) explicates how this de-
cision process may be conceptualized (see below).
Primary Ego Reference Frames (PERF)
According to the proposed model, Spatial Presence emerges from SSMs through a
perceptual and cognitive process that convicts media users that they are personally
located within the environment represented in their SSM. This end state of the Spa-
tial Presence process is very similar to everyday experiences of being present in a
real room, landscape, or car (Lee, 2004). Therefore, the explication of the mecha-
nism which links SSMs to Spatial Presence refers to spatial information process-
ing outside of media contexts.
In order to determine their own position within a spatial environment, individu-
als must constantly monitor their spatial surroundings and check for inconsisten-
cies between this outer representation and their internal sensory feedbacks related
to their location (for example, vestibular cues). To do so, they continuously con-
struct the spatial world within an egocentric reference frame (ERF; Franklin &
Tversky, 1990; Sholl, 1999; Carlson, 1999). An ERF is defined as a mental model
of the world that is organized from a first-person perspective (Mou & McNamara,
2002) and contains at least the immediate surroundings (Radvansky, Spieler, &
Zacks, 1993; Freksa et al. 1999; Sholl, 1999, see also McNamara, 1986). The indi-
vidual sustains an ERF through permanent updating of his/her spatial mental
model (van Oostendorp, 1994; Blanc & Tapiero, 2001; Riecke & von der Heyde,
2002; Bjork, 1978). Spatial updating creates the perceptual sensation of a constant
environment that the individual feels part of. Such ERFs are constructed not only
by visual information, but also through other sensory input such as vestibular cues
(Riecke, von der Heyde, & Bülthoff, 2001). All perceived objects, including one’s
own body, are located in reference to ERF. Thus, an ERF tells us where we are in a
spatial environment.
Mediated environments may also offer ERFs, for example, in first-person
shooter video games (Schneider, Lang, Shin, & Bradley, 2004). Such a me-
dia-bound ERF is an integral part of the SSM the user constructs while processing
a media stimulus. Therefore, a mediated environment may offer an ERF that is dif-
ferent from the users’ real-world ERF (Riecke & von der Heyde, 2002). Since an
ERF is created from various sensory perceptions, different modalities can indicate
different ERFs. For example, the visual channel (as stimulated by the computer
game) may support a different ERF than the vestibular channel (which is not ad-
dressed by the game). Under such circumstances, the media users, in order to re-
tain their capability to act and avoid excessive confusion, are most likely to try to
return to the homoeostatic condition of one congruent ERF. This congruent ERF is
labeled the Primary Ego Reference Frame (PERF), because the individual will
prefer to align his/her spatial perceptions and perceived action possibilities with
this reference frame over any other possible frame. According to our definition,
Spatial Presence occurs when a person accepts a mediated environment as PERF,
because in this case, perceived self-location, perceived possible actions and mental
capacities are all bound to the mediated space.
If media users have built an SSM of the mediated environment, more than one
ERF is available to them: one is originated by the media product, while the other is
their actual environment. In this situation, users have to decide which of these
ERFs is their PERF. Spatial Presence will only emerge if users accept the mediated
ERF as PERF. If they fail to do so, they will continue feeling located in their real
environment, although they may have a vivid impression of how the mediated ERF
looks. The decision which leads to the acceptance or rejection of the mediated ERF
as PERF is a perceptual-cognitive process explicated by the theory of perceptual
hypotheses. Its result is crucial for the emergence of Spatial Presence, which can
only occur if the mediated spatial environment is accepted as the PERF. The theory
of perceptual hypotheses explains how users make this fundamental decision.
The Theory of Perceptual Hypotheses
According to Bruner and Postman (1949), perception is a cognitive interaction be-
tween an organism and its environment, a process based on the reception and inter-
pretation of stimuli using available hypotheses about the environment (Lilli, 1997;
see also Gregory, 1980, 1981; Neisser, 1976). TPH regards perception as com-
prised of four heuristic functions (Lilli & Frey, 1993): selection, organization, ac-
centuation, and fixation. The perceived objects are those which the users’ select
out of the diversity of environmental stimuli. Perception itself is the result of orga-
nization, meaning that whatever is perceived is already arranged in a way which
makes sense for the observer. Thus, in order to make sense of the diverse stimuli,
the perceiving organism emphasizes some aspects of stimuli more than others.
Finally, every perception is the result of prior perceptions which have proved suc-
cessful in similar situations. TPH divides perception into three stages:
Provision of expectation hypotheses
Any process of perception starts with a hypothesis of expectation which stems
from prior experiences of perception and is considered as a perceptual set or cogni-
tive predisposition. This hypothesis tells the observer what kind of information to
watch out for.
Input of information about the object of perception
The chosen hypothesis affects to a certain degree what is currently perceived. “The
[perceived] information content thus depends not only on what is but on the hypo-
thetical stored alternatives of what may be” (Gregory, 1980, p. 183).
Confirmation or disproof of the hypothesis
If the expectation hypothesis is confirmed through perceived information, the per-
ceptual test of the hypothesis is terminated. If the received data does not confirm
the expectation hypothesis, the perception cycle starts anew. Successful hypothe-
ses guide subsequent processes of perception (Bruner & Postman, 1949). This
way, prior perceptions not only suggest to the observer what to look for, but also in-
dicate how to interpret current perceptions. Demonstrably, perceptual organization
is powerfully determined by expectations built upon past contact with the environ-
ment (Bruner & Postman, 1949).
An example for such a three-step process of perception is a person watching an
action drama on TV. Think of a sequence in which the protagonist discovers a dark
archaeological site and wonders what kind of ancient building s/he has entered.
Available knowledge about such typical action drama situations allows the viewer
to formulate the expectation hypothesis that the building might be a historic tem-
ple. This expectation causes the viewer to look for indicators of the religious func-
tion of the building, for example, symbols and statues. As soon as the media prod-
uct reveals information supporting the expectation hypothesis (e.g., the
protagonist finds an altar), the perceptual test of the hypothesis is terminated. If in-
formation that contradicts the expectation is detected, however, a new hypothesis
is formulated (e.g., the building is an ancient fortress), and the perceptual process
targeting the nature of the site starts over again.
Observers may hold one or more hypotheses at the same time. If they hold more
than one, the hypotheses can vary in strength. The degree to which perception is af-
fected by a certain expectation hypothesis is determined by the strength of the
competing hypotheses. If the observers have formed a strong hypothesis, the result
of the perception process is primarily determined by this hypothesis (i.e., con-
cept-driven or top down information processing). On the other hand, if the observ-
ers have built a rather weak hypothesis, information processing is data-driven (i.e.,
bottom up). Thus, the strength of a hypothesis determines its impact on the result
of perception.
Lilli and Frey (1993) have posited three important assumptions concerning the
strength of a hypothesis and its influence on perception. They are (1) the stronger a
hypothesis, the larger the probability that the hypothesis is activated (i.e., priming),
(2) the stronger a hypothesis, the smaller the amount of information necessary to
confirm it, (3) the stronger a hypothesis, the larger the amount of contradictory in-
formation necessary to disprove it. In summary, people always form hypotheses
which they (try to) verify using their perceptions (expectation-hypotheses;
Nickerson, 1998). Normally, observers establish several hypotheses at the same
time. Therefore, they must decide which hypothesis to rely on during the ongoing
process of perception. Which hypothesis is chosen depends on the strength of each
of the competing hypotheses.
Test of the “Medium-as-PERF-Hypothesis”
and the emergence of Spatial Presence
Situations that feature some uncertainty about the PERF caused by a media product
arise when two competing perceptual hypotheses exist: one indicates that the real
wordis the PERF,and the otherindicates that themediated environmentis the PERF
(the so-called medium-as-PERF-hypothesis; see Slater, 2002, for a similar notion).
Oncea SSM hasbeen established due to theelaboration of spatialcues providedby a
media offering, the ERF inherent to this SSM challenges the user’s given primary
reference frame (e.g., to be located in the spatial system of the real word) and the re-
ferringperceptual hypothesis(e.g., toassume oneis locatedin alivingroom) bycon-
stituting a medium-as-PERF-hypothesis. In the course of perception and imagina-
tion, the processed information may support one of the hypotheses over the other.
Spatial Presence occurs when the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis is confirmed re-
peatedly through processed information and is thus stabilized over time. If, on the
other hand, the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis is weakened by contradictory infor-
mation (e.g., a microphone that appears in a movie as an artificial object), the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis will be dropped—that is, the state of Spatial Presence
does not occur (or persist)—and the alternative hypothesis will be selected and
tested(i.e., the reality-as-PERF-hypothesis;Bruner,Postman,& Rodrigues,1951).
We argue that the experience of nonmediation, which often is defined as an
essential component of all Presence experiences (ISPR, 2001), is neither a rele-
vant precursor for the formation process of Spatial Presence (see for contributing
factors below) nor a crucial aspect of feeling self-located in spatial scenery.
Rather, the experience of nonmediation is a global sensation during media expo-
sure that might be fueled by states of Spatial Presence. If the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis is accepted and stabilized over time, the user ap-
proves of the authenticity of the spatial depiction that the medium provides.
Therefore, while the user is spatially present, the illusive character of the media
imitation is unlikely to shape cognitions regarding his or her current definition of
the exposure situation. Experiencing spatial presence, the user perceives no illu-
sion or imitation created by human-made technology, thus establishing or
strengthening the overall feeling of nonmediation.
The users’ questioning of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis is initiated when-
ever contradictory sensory perceptions from a media product disrupts an existing
belief about the PERF. For example, the user’s belief that s/he is located in a cin-
ema could be irritated by the persuasive spatiality of a movie, which suggests lo-
cation within the film’s world. Such an assumption implies that the medium is
able to make “strong claims for the PERF.” With respect to the modeled lower
level processes, this is true if the medium contains either numerous persuasive
spatial cues or strong and vivid images of space that lead to the formation of a
strong SSM (which also includes a strong ERF). The model assumes that the
strength of the SSM varies by its internal consistency (the more plausible the
spatial scenery, the stronger the SSM) and its richness (the more objects en-
tailed, the stronger the SSM). A strong SSM adds to the relative strength of the
medium-as-PERF-hypothesis: The more plausible and the richer the SSM, the
more plausible and the stronger the resulting medium-as-PERF-hypothesis. Con-
sistent SSMs give rise to plausible, error-free, ergo strong hypotheses. Rich
SSMs bind cognitive resources and thus increase the relative salience of the ERF
inherent to the SSM, again resulting in stronger hypotheses.
According to TPH, a stronger expectation hypothesis requires a smaller amount
of supportive information to confirm it. When a strong SSM has contributed to a
very strong medium-as-PERF-hypothesis, then, the probability of its acceptance is
increased, as the medium only needs to provide a small amount of additional con-
gruent information to confirm the expectation. If a vague or imprecise SSM has di-
minished the relative power of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis, however, the me-
dia product must provide much more supportive information for the user to accept
it (that is, to enter the state of Spatial Presence). In sum, the “quality” of the users’
SSM strongly affects the perceptual test of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis.
However, even very strong SSMs do not automatically cause the acceptance of the
medium-as-PERF-hypothesis; information specifically supporting the hypothesis
must always be available for it to be accepted.
Thus, similar to attentional processes (see above), both media attributes and us-
ers’ internal operations can generate information to activate the process of hypoth-
esis testing and to support the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis.
Media factors, perceptual hypothesis testing, and the
formation of Spatial Presence
One can imagine numerous factors which could make the ERF offered by a media
product so plausible or persuasive that the user is likely to accept it as the PERF.
We need not provide a complete list of media factors. But in general, media factors
contributing to the formation and strength of an SSM on the first level should still
exert an influence on the second level. That is, the more consistent various sensory
cues of the media product are, the more likely continued acceptance of the “tested”
ERF will be (Slater, 2002).
Certainly, the mediated spatial structures must also be persistent. If the repre-
sented space vanishes within a short period of time, not only could the SSM shut
down due to a lack of incoming spatial cues, but a currently tested me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis will remain unconfirmed, as real spatial structures
may re-occupy the user’s perceptional or imaginative capacity. Exactly how long
a previously presented spatial stimulus must be absent before a derived SSM or
the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis expires, however, is an empirical question—
one of attention allocation. For example, if a commercial break of a television
program interrupts the stream of consistent spatial cues, attention may shift to
new stimuli representing different SSMs and ERFs. If these ERFs are regarded
as highly persuasive, they are likely to abolish previously held beliefs. Some-
times, however, users might successfully block out external stimuli after a spatial
stimulus has vanished, and thus preserve an existing belief in their mind until the
stimulus returns. Narrative,drama, and plot have repeatedly been identified as
supporting the sensation of Presence (Kelso, Weyrauch, & Bates, 1993; Klimmt
& Vorderer, 2003). Because suspense may sustain the receivers’ interest in the
media product, dramatic media content should motivate them to stay connected
to the media product, increasing the medium’s persistence and stabilizing the
In addition to persistence, the acceptance of the ERF should be more likely
when the spatial surrounding perceived by the visual channel matches the per-
ceived posture that is construed on the “inner” vestibular information (affer-
ent-efferent-loop, von Holst & Mittelstaedt, 1950). Virtual reality technology is
able to sustain such a match between sensory modalities, for example, through
tracking devices that detect movements of the user’s head and generate an appro-
priate visual illusion of movement in real-time (Biocca & Delaney, 1995). Afferent
information that does not match expectations based on the efferent sensation, how-
ever, weakens the currently tested hypothesis. Perhaps the media offering only
needs to match those space-related afferent-efferent-loops in a natural way with re-
gard to realism (while it can be fictional or unnatural in other aspects). The avail-
ability of afferent-efferent-loops depends on the interactivity of a display.
Interactivity can provide strong support for the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis, be-
cause receiving feedback on one’s actions (e.g., visual responses to movements)
may be very convincing for media users. On the media side, the degree of
interactivity depends on the adequacy of the given feedback as well as on breadth
of possible interactive actions (Steuer 1992; Witmer & Singer, 1998; Zahorik &
Jenison, 1998). Interactivity may, if the interface is calibrated properly to the users’
natural efferent-afferent loop, serve as an amplification of the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis (Slater, Usoh, & Steed, 1995). However, inappropriate
configurations, for example, high response latencies, will reveal the artificial qual-
ity of the stimulus or even lead to simulator-sickness (DiZio & Lackner, 1992),
thus hampering the approval of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis. In sum, being
able to perform certain well-calibrated actions within the mediated environment
may attract users’ attention. More importantly, their acceptance of the medium as
PERF should increase compared to a noninteractive environment (Steuer, 1992).
The availability of single or combined factors from the above examples allows
different media products to affect the outcome of the test of the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis. VR technology utilizes most of these factors (e.g.,
congruence across modalities, persistence, interactivity, realism). Thus, the model
can explain the demonstrated power of such media to evoke and sustain Spatial
Presence. Other media, such as television or books, may utilize a different and po-
tentially smaller set of factors (e.g., persistence, interactivity), which would de-
crease their power to evoke Spatial Presence, or at least increase the probability of
variations in Spatial Presence during the course of consumption (“breaks in Pres-
ence,” Slater & Steed, 2000). Under these circumstances, Spatial Presence will
only emerge if internal operations of the users overrule the (strong) evidence that
contradicts the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis (e.g., by compensating for a lack of
Users’ active contributions to the emergence of Spatial
Presence: Involvement and Suspension of disbelief
If an expectation hypothesis is to be confirmed in the face of strong contradictory
evidence, TPH assumes that motivational factors, such as high involvement, must
substitute the missing media factors. The stronger the motivational support for a
hypothesis, the smaller the amount of corresponding stimulus information re-
quired to confirm it, and the larger the amount of contradictory information re-
quired to disprove it. Even the activation of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis itself
can be supported by motivational forces.
The consumption of low-immersive media products such as films, books or
websites may allow for the construction of an SSM, but those media are probably
not capable of disrupting existing beliefs about a PERF, because the spatial envi-
ronment they portray is not as pervasive as VR (Schubert & Crusius, 2002). In
other words, the ERF included in the SSM derived from low-immersive media will
produce a rather weak medium-as-PERF-hypothesis. Nevertheless, we argue that
states of Presence may occur while using low-immersive media, if the users are
highly motivated to engage in the media offerings. High motivation on the part of
the user will strengthen the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis, and the probability of
acceptance will also be heightened. Thus, the medium does not need to be power-
ful enough or to provide a strong medium-as-PERF-hypothesis to trigger hypothe-
sis testing by itself. For example, people want to enjoy watching TV entertainment
or in playing computer games (Klimmt & Vorderer, 2003). They expect that con-
centrating on and becoming immersed in the TV show, the thriller, or the computer
game, will contribute to their desired goal (e.g., Schneider et al., 2004). Conse-
quently, and because it is functional, they will be more likely to accept the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis. An SSM constructed from a low-immersive medium
may provide an ERF, which can be “picked up” by the readers, used for a percep-
tual test of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis, and eventually cause the sensation of
Presence. Our model proposes two different types of user variables (internal pro-
cesses) that affect the perceptual test of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis: Involve-
ment and suspension of disbelief.
The concept of involvement
Involvement is regarded as a motivation-related meta-concept that includes vari-
ous forms of intense interactions with a mediated stimulus (Rothschild, 1983;
Salmon, 1986; Roser, 1990; Vorderer, 1993; Wirth, 2006). For example, for
Krugman, involvement is the number of conscious bridging experiences, connec-
tions, or personal references that a viewer makes per minute between his or her
own life and a stimulus (Krugman, 1965). More generally, involved users volun-
tarily and intentionally participate in an information-exchange process (Williams,
Rice, & Rogers, 1988), which may have cognitive, affective and conative, and/or
behavioral aspects (Chaffee & Roser, 1986). Its cognitive dimension includes
attentional, inferential, and elaborative components (Batra & Ray, 1985; Roser,
1990). Affective aspects of involvement refer to salience and the assignment of rel-
evance (Roser, 1990). Involved users recognize and establish connections between
the media content and their own values, experiences and beliefs (Krugman, 1965).
Moreover, during media exposure intense feelings and emotional reactions may
occur and be appraised and interpreted by the users (Batra & Ray, 1985; Perse,
1988). Finally, users may wish to act in the mediated world (i.e., conative and/or
behavioral level of involvement, Chaffee & Roser, 1986). For example, a virtual
environment may enable its users to open doors and to explore the rooms of a
building. The broader the interactive capabilities of the media environment are, the
more extensive the opportunities for exploratory activities will be. Concerning less
interactive media, such as films, explorative behavior is restricted to visual scan-
ning. While reading a book, mental exploration is the only possibility (see Franklin
& Tversky, 1990). In this case, exploration (as a behavioral component of involve-
ment) is identical to elaborative activities (as a cognitive component of involve-
ment). In sum, while reading, viewing or listening to media users can be
cognitively, affectively, and / or conatively involved with the media content for
varying reasons. For example, users may be strongly motivated to deal with the
content in more depth. Or they may be stimulated and aroused by a film or a story,
and thus become involved with it.
Involvement and Spatial Presence
Some authors consider involvement to be a part of the Presence experience (e.g.,
Regenbrecht & Schubert 2002; Witmer & Singer, 1998). In our view, however,
involvement means the active and intensive processing of the mediated world,
whereas Spatial Presence emphasizes the experience of “being” solely within the
mediated world. Involvement is an action that includes higher forms of informa-
tion processing, such as thinking about, interpreting, elaborating, appraising, and
assigning relevance to the media content (Wirth, 2006). Note that although the
user does not focus on reality, involvement does not necessarily entail a loss of
mental contact with the real world. On the other hand, Spatial Presence is de-
fined as an experience during which people lose mental contact with the real
world. In addition, the experience of Presence does not necessarily imply active
participation in terms of involvement, but is a possible consequence of involve-
ment. For example, if users are involved with the narration of a film, a text or a
role-playing computer game, they think about the narration’s characters, their
actions and their feelings, but they do not pay attention to the television receiver,
the book wrapper or the joystick in their hands. Thus, the probability for accept-
ing the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis increases rather indirectly. When users are
highly involved with media content, their concentration and mental capacity are
primarily devoted to the media and not to reality. Thus, very few real world cues
are processed and mentally represented. Conversely, the majority of the users’
information processes are media-related and enriching for the SSM. This should
add considerably to the relative strength of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis. As
a result, Presence occurs rather automatically because of the powerful me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis, not because users consciously suppress reality as
PERF. Thus, presence could be seen as a side-effect of media involvement.
Suspension of disbelief
In our opinion, another process, suspension of disbelief, supports feelings of Spa-
tial Presence in an indirect manner. The concept originated in literature theory
(Coleridge, 1817/1973; Bystrom, Barfield, & Hendrix, 1999). Suspension of dis-
belief is defined as not paying attention to external stimuli and internal cognitions
that (might) distract from the enjoyment of the mediated story and environment.
Such distractions may be of technological kind or of the contents. For example,
technologically they may stem from the weight of the head-mounted display or
sweaty gloves (VR), the experiences of feeling paper pages or a book wrapper
(book), surrounding noises and voices or a smell of popcorn (cinema), the sight of
a keyboard, a mouse or the bounds of the monitor (websites, computer games).
Content distractions can arise from bad, unrealistic, or implausible narrative plots
(Böcking & Wirth, submitted). In many cases users suspend disbelief if they want
to be entertained or simply to let themselves sink in the story. In order to reach
these goals they ignore or disregard any potential interference (as far this is possi-
ble and does not exceed a threshold). As a consequence, users often do not notice
any interference at all, though there may be some. Additionally, even if they do
happen to notice them, they do not focus on them (Böcking & Wirth, submitted).
Let us consider a VR user who wears a head-mounted display that is too heavy or a
film viewer who detects serious logical flaws in narrative media content. In the first
case, the user may suspend the weight of the head-mounted display in order to re-
main attentive to the virtual reality content and still be able to benefit from it (e.g.,
having fun exploring the environment). In the second case, the viewer may not pay
attention to story line inconsistencies because doing so would make watching an
action movie less entertaining. These examples suggest that users’ motives and
goals are decisive for the application of suspension of disbelief. However, follow-
ing research in the area of uses and gratifications, users are not always aware of
these motives and goals (e.g., Vorderer, 1992). Thus, we can assume that an indi-
vidual’s suspension of disbelief probably occurs rather unconsciously. However,
having seen a movie or having walked through a virtual environment, people
should be able to report whether they have suspended disbelief.
Suspension of disbelief and Spatial Presence
How can suspension of disbelief influence the development of the presence experi-
ence, i.e., how can it foster the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis? In general, suspend-
ing one’s disbelief allows the user to weaken or even delete factors from his/ her
focusof attentionthat mightcontradict themedium-as-PERF-hypothesis. First,sus-
pension of disbelief weakens the reality-as-PERF-hypothesis by the user’s lack of
attention to distracting information from the surrounding real world. Second, sus-
pension of disbelief allows the user to suppress mediated world information that
contradicts real world knowledge, thus making the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis
more acceptable. For example, a person watching a science-fiction movie “ignores”
the fact that it presents gravity inaccurately, thus allowing him/herself to experience
the spaceship as believable despite contradicting evidence. Third, a user who sus-
pends disbelief ignores contradictory information from his mind. For example, a
reader of a novel decides to concentrate on the spatial descriptions in the book to
avoid memories from the working day that enter his thoughts and disrupt the incom-
ing stream of space-related information. Finally, suspension of disbelief may assist
the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis in interpreting contradictory information as actu-
allysupporting this hypothesis.For example,viewers ofa fantasy movie may accept
thefilm’spresentationof sorcerersmovinghuge objectswith magicspells as “realis-
tic”within thecontextof themovie and turn an objectivelyproblematic feature ofthe
presentation into a fact that supports the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis (Böcking &
Wirth, submitted). In sum, with suspension of disbelief even a weak me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis might be sufficient to evoke Spatial Presence.
Note that Spatial Presence may occur in the case of low involvement or low sus-
pension of disbelief as well. If users are only marginally involved with the media
content or if users get distracted by logical flaws or technological bugs, they may
be drawn into the Spatial Presence experience because it is dictated by the power
(the immersiveness) of the presence-inducing technology. During low involve-
ment or low suspension of disbelief the immersive power of the media environ-
ment becomes more decisive for Spatial Presence experiences. In short, while
highly involved users or users suspending disbelief are able to experience Spatial
Presence even with media that do not suggest Spatial Presence technologically
(e.g., books), the less-involved or those not suspending disbelief would need a
powerful Spatial Presence inducing technology (or formal features) to draw them
into the illusion of reality (e.g., VR). Of course, the model expects moderate levels
of both immersion and involvement and suspension of disbelief to be able to in-
duce Spatial Presence as well. In other words: To a certain degree, immersion and
involvement and suspension of disbelief are considered to be substituting each
Trait absorption as personological variable
in the emergence of Spatial Presence
As mentioned above, certain media characteristics may influence the outcome of
the perceptual test of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis and thus facilitate the
emergence of Spatial Presence. Similarly, user variables may take effect during the
test of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis by activating the modeled user opera-
tions, that is, involvement and/or suspension of disbelief. The most important user
trait to consider is absorption. Trait absorption refers to an individual’s motivation
and skill in dealing with an object in an elaborate manner (Wild et al., 1995).
High-absorption individuals tend to become intensely involved with objects such
as media products, and become “fascinated” without much effort. Therefore, ab-
sorption is considered to be positively correlated with attention allocation, the
identification of spatial structures, involvement, and suspension of disbelief, as all
of these processes are connected to states of fascination and experiential involve-
ment. High-absorption individuals will display a greater chance of confirming the
medium-as-PERF-hypothesis and entering the state of Presence, because they are
motivated to do so; they are able to influence the outcome of the perceptual test of
the hypothesis in terms of increased involvement and/or suspension of disbelief.
The specific effect of trait absorption on the test of the medium-as-PERF-
hypothesis may depend on the type of medium consumed. In reading processes,
for example, one major component of absorption, the capability to experience
vivid and pervasive daydreams (Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974), may be especially
important, as this skill facilitates the construction of an SSM and the perception of
being located within the imagined spatial structure. During consumption of audio-
visual media, the synesthetic component of absorption may be most relevant: In
high absorption individuals, sensations in one modality (as stimulated by a
medium, for example) can trigger imagined sensations in other modalities which
have not been externally stimulated (e.g., Biocca, Kim, & Choi, 2001). Such
cross-modal elaborations would enhance the user’s SSM and strengthen the me-
dium-as-PERF hypothesis in terms of coherence across modalities, realism, and
meaning. Because of its multidimensional structure, alternative mechanisms of in-
fluence on the emergence of Spatial Presence might be modeled and demon-
strated; for the general framework to be outlined here, we limit the considerations
on trait absorption to the mentioned mechanisms. Additional personological vari-
ables may of course be found equally important (e.g., Sas & O’Hare, 2001), but
among the many potentially influential trait variables, absorption is by far the most
interesting and elaborated construct.
Combined media and user factors in tests
of the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis
As both media factors and user variables affect the outcome of the test of the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis during media exposure, they each may compensate for
shortcomings or obstacles on the other “route”: Insufficient spatial cues of the me-
dia product may be counteracted by users’ involvement and Suspension of Disbe-
lief. Consequently, a lack of user motivation to experience Spatial Presence may be
overruled by pervasive and convincing media characteristics. This mutual comple-
tion is assumed to be in effect both in terms of media comparison—that is, the rela-
tive contributions of media and personological factors to the strength of the me-
dium-as-PERF-hypothesis depending on the type of medium—and with respect to
the process of receiving one single medium. Viewers of a TV movie might some-
times feel Spatial Presence. This may result from the space-related information
that the show provides during the course of reception, or during other parts of the
show because of their strong involvement with the protagonists. During yet other
parts of the show, they may feel no Spatial Presence at all because neither media
nor personological factors support the medium-as-PERF-hypothesis to a sufficient
The proposed model of the formation of Spatial Presence centers around two ma-
jor steps. First, the media users build a mental representation of the space por-
trayed by the media product, the so-called SSM. Automatic and/or controlled at-
tention allocation is a precondition to the construction of the SSM, and media
factors (such as attention-catching content features and spatial cues) as well as user
variables (domain-specific interest, spatial visual imagery) will affect its
Once the users have constructed an SSM, perceptual hypotheses are activated.
In case of persuasive media offerings and/or high involvement of the media users,
the receivers test the so-called medium-as-PERF-hypothesis, which states that the
spatial environment represented in the media-based SSM is the primary
ego-reference frame (PERF). If this hypothesis is perceptually confirmed, Spatial
Presence emerges; by accepting the mediated space as PERF, media users position
themselves and realized action possibilities within that space. Both media factors
(e.g., persistence, realism) and user actions (involvement, suspension of disbelief)
can affect the transition from the SSM to Spatial Presence.
In respect to past theoretical and empirical research, this model is an attempt to
connect the young concept of Spatial Presence to established constructs in psy-
chology and communication. As a result, the model clearly differentiates Spatial
Presence from related concepts that were formerly considered as equal or similar,
most importantly, involvement (e.g., Schubert et al., 2001). In this sense, the model
does not contradict existing Presence models (e.g., Draper et al., 1998; Freeman,
2004), but rather advances them towards a more coherent and comprehensive con-
ceptualization that allows for hypothesis formulation and testing.
An interesting by-product of this deductive approach is the question about the
difference between Spatial Presence and the processing of nonmediated reality
(Mantovani & Riva, 1999). Our model argues that media users who are experienc-
ing Spatial Presence rely on several perceptual and cognitive processes that they
continuously execute in nonmedia settings (e.g., selective-attentive processing of
environmental stimuli, construction of mental models of the immediate surround-
ing). Therefore, one might suspect Spatial Presence to be a redundant and super-
fluous concept, as it looks like an assembly of well-known processes of human
perception and construction of “reality,” which is then applied to media use. Our
model provides ample arguments to disagree with this position. It is well-known
that the processing of media messages “runs” on the same routines, mechanisms,
and cognitive structures that humans have developed in times when there were no
(mass) media (Reeves & Nass, 1996). It is therefore imperative to consider those
fundamental processes in models of media use and experience, and the proposed
model does so in a systematic manner. However, in spite of the congruencies be-
tween every-day processing of reality, media experiences—especially Spatial
Presence—still display unique properties that do not exist in nonmedia settings.
Specifically, the assumption of an alternative ego-centric reference frame (ERFs)
offered by a medium and the possibility to use this reference frame as new PERF is
a media-bound phenomenon and determines the unique quality of Spatial Pres-
ence. Only during media use, distant and/or fictional and/or virtual spaces can oc-
cur as potential ERFs and can be successfully “entered” to become the PERF. This
is the key difference between Spatial Presence and the experience of spatial reality,
and the proposed model is the first of its kind to explicate this distinction. To a cer-
tain extent, daydreaming (Singer, 1975) may facilitate similar situations of multi-
ple ERFs. But these ERFs are necessarily idiosyncratic constructions and thus can-
not be compared to Spatial Presence that implies the perceived self-location in
spaces outlined, manufactured, and/or simulated by others. The proposed model
therefore supports the conceptual view of Spatial Presence as an experiential state
that must be separated from other states and, most importantly, from nonmediated
experience. Consequently, the model’s process-oriented causal structure advances
our understanding of Spatial Presence significantly and permits a more effective
handling of the concept in empirical research.
Future research on Spatial Presence should (1) try to test the model’s assump-
tions, and (2) apply the model to fundamental and applied problems of media psy-
chology and communication research.
The call for tests of the model’s assumptions does not imply that there is no em-
pirical evidence supporting the model. For instance, the conceptualization is in line
with the findings on attention to television (e.g., Anderson & Burns, 1991) which
has identified media factors that evoke viewers’ attention allocation. However,
there is no integrated research program that has tested the interplay between the
theorized model components in the context of Spatial Presence. The most chal-
lenging question for such a research program is how to demonstrate empirically
the connections between the actual process components that the model suggests.
Creative experiments with media stimuli that offer many degrees of freedom for
message manipulation (e.g., television, computer games) should try to isolate the
conceptualized stages of the process that leads to Spatial Presence. Initial explor-
atory studies revealed encouraging results (Boecking et al., 2004; Gysbers et al.,
2004). Structural equation models can be used to assess the relationships between
the discussed process components. Multimethod approaches (e.g., eye-tracking as
measure for attention, think-aloud measures for SSMs, questionnaires for Spatial
Presence) can also help to illuminate the relationships between the model
Aside of the need for integrated testing, the model offers a level of universality
which enables researchers to apply Spatial Presence to the study of virtually any
media: Processes of attention, the construction of spatial mental models, the theory
of perceptual hypotheses, and user actions like involvement and suspension of dis-
belief are categories which may be useful for understanding how individuals pro-
cess and experience televised, printed, audio-broadcast, computer-mediated, and
even interpersonal-oral messages.
An example of where the application of the model would be promising is the
consumption of televised sports. Live broadcasts attempt to “transport” the atmo-
sphere of the stadium to the viewers at home. The underlying assumption is that
experiencing Spatial Presence would increase the enjoyment of watching the game
(Klimmt & Vorderer, 2003). Experimental studies based on the proposed model
can disentangle the involved processes and test whether it is really Spatial Pres-
ence that facilitates enjoyment, whether a solid SSM of the field is sufficient, or
whether the game space is not an important category at all, because involvement
with the team and the accompanying suspense are primary (Raney, 2003). As the
example indicates, the model offers an increased level of granularity to researchers
who are interested in applying the concept of Spatial Presence to questions of me-
dia consumption, information processing, and media effects. It may pave the way
to expand the applicability of Spatial Presence within the domain of communica-
tion beyond the investigation of virtual reality and videoconferencing applications
and to find out about the potential role of Spatial Presence as facilitator and/or am-
plifier of media effects.
The research presented in this article has been funded by the European Community,
IST project “Presence: Measurement, Effects, Conditions” (IST-2001–37661). We
thankfully acknowledge the EC’s support.
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... We will specifically refer to VR as the head-mounted displays (HMDs) that are able to immerse users in virtual worlds. Presence has been described as the sense of "being there" [1], which suggests that it can be influenced by individual differences. The concept of presence can be operationalized either as a feeling or state of consciousness [2]. ...
... In previous studies, presence has often been regarded as a unitary variable defined as the sensation of 'being there' (see [1,30]. This definition is related to spatial presence, which in the context of VR represents a state of mind characterised by an impression of being amongst landmarks present in a virtual environment (VE) [31]. ...
... Early evidence of this trend is exemplified by Schubert et al.'s [49] Igroup Presence Questionnaire (IPQ), which identified spatial presence, involvement and realness as the main components of presence. The most prominent descriptive model is the Process model on the formation of spatial presence, proposed by Wirth et al.'s [1]. ...
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Users’ emotions may influence the formation of presence in virtual reality (VR). Users’ expectations, state of arousal and personality may also moderate the relationship between emotions and presence. An interoceptive predictive coding model of conscious presence (IPCM) considers presence as a product of the match between predictions of interoceptive emotional states and the actual states evoked by an experience (Seth et al. 2012). The present paper aims to test this model’s applicability to VR for both high-arousal and low-arousal emotions. The moderating effect of personality traits on the creation of presence is also investigated. Results show that user expectations about emotional states in VR have an impact on presence, however, expression of this relationship is moderated by the intensity of an emotion, with only high-arousal emotions showing an effect. Additionally, users’ personality traits moderated the relationship between emotions and presence. A refined model is proposed that predicts presence in VR by weighting emotions according to their level of arousal and by considering the impact of personality traits.
... Ein hohes Immersionslevel kann die Motivation und das Engagement stärker steigern als ein niedriges (Huang et al., 2020). Wirth et al. (2007) postulieren, dass räumliches Präsenzerleben ein komplexer, andauernder Prozess ist und kein beständiger Zustand. Räumliches Präsenzerleben lässt sich in die zwei Bereiche Selbstlokation und Handlungsmöglichkeiten unterteilen (Wirth et al., 2007). ...
... Wirth et al. (2007) postulieren, dass räumliches Präsenzerleben ein komplexer, andauernder Prozess ist und kein beständiger Zustand. Räumliches Präsenzerleben lässt sich in die zwei Bereiche Selbstlokation und Handlungsmöglichkeiten unterteilen (Wirth et al., 2007). ...
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Zusammenfassung Virtuelle Realität (VR) entwickelt sich immer mehr zu einem wichtigen Bildungswerkzeug für den MINT-Bereich. So können VR-Lernumgebungen Lernprozesse im Schulunterricht positiv unterstützen, indem sie beispielsweise unsichtbare Phänomene sichtbar machen (z. B. submikroskopische Vorgänge auf Teilchenebene) oder Orte aufgesucht werden, die normalerweise nicht erreichbar wären (z. B. im Rahmen einer virtuellen Exkursion). Bisher mangelt es im Schulalltag jedoch an geeigneten VR-Lernumgebungen. Dies liegt auch daran, dass potenziellen Entwicklerinnen und Entwicklern bisher keine unterrichtsbezogenen Designkriterien vorliegen, an denen sie sich bei VR-Konzeptionen orientieren könnten. Im Rahmen des hier vorgestellten Forschungsprojekts werden aktuell relevante Kriterien ermittelt und als Gestaltungsprinzipien für die Erstellung von VR-Lernumgebungen formuliert. Das methodische Vorgehen orientiert sich an dem Design-based-Research-Ansatz. Die Ergebnisse der empirischen Studie fokussieren das räumliche Präsenzerleben. Es werden Gestaltungsprinzipien zu den Bereichen „Selbstlokation“, „Handlungsmöglichkeiten“ sowie „Nutzungshäufigkeit“ abgeleitet.
... The key reason for this is that virtual environment provides the basis for a tight coupling between instructional information and typical symbols. An early model developed by Wirth et al. shows how VR can aid concept learning [5]. The study aims to identify, use, and evaluate functional support for immersive virtual reality to facilitate the mastery of complex and abstract concepts. ...
... A schematic view of a VR Education system[5]. ...
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The idea of virtual reality (VR) has gained widespread acceptance in modern society. Although most people still see it as a new form of entertainment, in fact, this kind of digital technology will play an important role in the future of education, especially engineering education. It can provide students with more intuitive and visual multi-sensory stimulation. By allowing access to virtual spaces for learning activities, students can be better guided for deep learning and interest cultivation, and their cognitive and application processes can be accelerated. Therefore, it is of great significance to apply this technology to engineering education courses. This research paper reviews what virtual reality is and the application of virtual reality in engineering education, and analyzes the benefits brought by the application of virtual reality in engineering education. Virtual reality technology represents a positive vision in which it will be the most promising assistive technology for engineering education in the near future.
... Thus, it has been associated with the feeling of "being there." Users feel spatially present in the virtual world if the virtual environment is set as a reference and virtual actions seem plausible [42]. Wienrich et al. [41] describe the reference frame as the result of weighted referential cues stemming from virtual and physical entities. ...
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Mixed Reality (MR) applications along Milgram's Reality-Virtuality (RV) continuum motivated a number of recent theories on potential constructs and factors describing MR experiences. This paper investigates the impact of incongruencies that are processed on different information processing layers (i.e., sensation/perception and cognition layer) to provoke breaks in plausibility. It examines the effects on spatial and overall presence as prominent constructs of Virtual Reality (VR). We developed a simulated maintenance application to test virtual electrical devices. Participants performed test operations on these devices in a counterbalanced, randomized 2x2 between-subject design in either VR as congruent or Augmented Reality (AR) as incongruent on the sensation/perception layer. Cognitive incongruence was induced by the absence of traceable power outages, decoupling perceived cause and effect after activating potentially defective devices. Our results indicate that the effects of the power outages differ significantly in the perceived plausibility and spatial presence ratings between VR and AR. Both ratings decreased for the AR condition (incongruent sensation/perception) compared to VR (congruent sensation/perception) for the congruent cognitive case but increased for the incongruent cognitive case. The results are discussed and put into perspective in the scope of recent theories of MR experiences.
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Dieser Open-Access-Sammelband stellt zukunftsweisende digitale Tools, Methoden und Konzepte für guten MINT-Unterricht vor: Er erläutert und diskutiert insbesondere Konzepte und Forschungsergebnisse zur lernförderlichen Gestaltung von digitalen Erweiterungen analoger Lehr- und Lernmethoden sowie von digitalen Lernumgebungen für zukünftige Anforderungen. Dabei geht er unter anderem auf das (digitale) Experimentieren, Videoanalyse, Augmented Reality und Gestaltungskriterien für Virtual-Reality-Lernumgebungen ein. Auf Grundlage aktueller Forschungsergebnisse beantwortet das Buch aktuelle Fragestellungen, etwa: Inwiefern kann die Digitalisierung bei einem MINT-Lernen für die Zukunft unterstützen? Welche digitalen Technologien, digitalen Werkzeuge und digitalen Lernumgebungen können bei der Entwicklung von 21st Century Skills bei Lernenden beitragen? Wie müssen sie ausgestaltet sein, um beim Lernen und Problemlösen unterstützend zu wirken und die Lernenden zum kritischen Denken (Critical Thinking) anzuregen? Der vorliegende zweite Band ist Teil eines zweibändigen Sammelwerks; die beiden Bände sind weitgehend unabhängig voneinander lesbar und unterscheiden sich in ihrem inhaltlichen Fokus: Während Band 1 grundsätzliche Perspektiven beleuchtet, fokussiert Band 2 eher auf konkrete digitale Tools und Methoden für die Unterrichtspraxis. Die Beiträge wurden im Rahmen des Projekts „Die Zukunft des MINT-Lernens – Denkfabrik für Unterricht mit digitalen Technologien“, gefördert durch die Deutsche Telekom Stiftung, entwickelt. Sie decken verschiedene (assoziierte) Projekte des Entwicklungskonsortiums der beteiligten Hochschulstandorte ab und bieten zukunftsweisendes Wissen zum Thema.
[Purpose] The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in effects of virtual reality (VR) and two-dimensional (2D) motion images on the immediate learning effect and surface cerebral blood hemodynamics. [Participants and Methods] Twenty-two subjects were randomly divided into two groups: a group that viewed a first-person motion image of the catching motion in VR (VR group) and a group that viewed the motion image in 2D (2D group). First, the catching motions of 10 balls of both groups were evaluated. Two weeks later, each group viewed motor images for 60 seconds, and their catching motions were evaluated again after 90 seconds. We evaluated the surface cerebral hemodynamics using a functional near-infrared spectroscopy system. [Results] The number of successful catches improved after viewing the motor imagery in both groups, and there was no significant difference between the groups. Surface cerebral blood flow activity showed in the right prefrontal cortex, left and right premotor cortex, and supplementary motor cortex in the VR group. [Conclusion] The results suggest the possibility of using VR motor imagery.
The Gamer’s Dilemma challenges us to justify the moral difference between enacting virtual murder and virtual child molestation in video games. The Dilemma relies for its argumentative force on the claim that there is an intuitive moral difference between these acts, with the former intuited as morally acceptable and the latter as morally unacceptable. However, there has been no empirical investigation of these claims. To explore these issues, we developed an experimental survey study in which participants were asked to reflect on imaginary video game scenarios as part of a 2 (undertake virtual murder or molestation) X 2 (against an adult or child) X 2 (in a high or low realism virtual environment) factorial design. We found that there was a significant difference between people’s views about virtual murder and virtual molestation. Whether the virtual act was performed against an adult or child was non-significant in most conditions, whereas whether it was performed in a high or low realism virtual environment was significant in most conditions. Gender did not impact these results, whereas perceived gaming experience, hours of video game play per week, and integrity did. These results provide an empirical grounding for future discussions of the Gamer's Dilemma.
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Previous research has shown that immersive virtual reality (VR) is a suitable tool for visualizing the consequences of climate change. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether visualization in VR has a stronger influence on climate change awareness and environmental attitudes compared to traditional media. Furthermore, it was examined how realistic a VR experience has to be in order to have an effect. The VR experience consisted of a model of the Aletsch glacier (Switzerland) melting over the course of 220 years. Explicit measurements (new environmental paradigm NEP, climate change scepticism, and nature relatedness) and an implicit measurement (implicit association test) were collected before and after the VR intervention and compared to three different non-VR control conditions (video, images with text, and plain text). In addition, the VR environment was varied in terms of degrees of realism and sophistication (3 conditions: abstract visualization, less sophisticated realistic visualization, more sophisticated realistic visualization). The six experimental conditions (3 VR conditions, three control conditions) were modeled as mixed effects, with VR versus control used as a fixed effect in a mixed effects modeling framework. Across all six conditions, environmental awareness (NEP) was higher after the participants (N = 142) had been confronted with the glacier melting, while no differences were found for nature relatedness and climate change scepticism before and after the interventions. There was no significant difference between VR and control conditions for any of the four measurements. Nevertheless, contrast analyses revealed that environmental awareness increased significantly only for the VR but not for the control conditions, suggesting that VR is more likely to lead to attitude change. Our results show that exposure to VR environments successfully increased environmental awareness independently of the design choices, suggesting that even abstract and less sophisticated VR environment designs may be sufficient to increase pro-environmental attitudes.
Museums are more than a place to preserve collections of pieces. They offer serious leisure activities that can be incremented by using virtual reality tools. Thus, this study aims to analyse (i) the effect of virtual atmospheric cues on serious leisure in a virtual museum environment, and (ii) the impact of serious leisure on the desire to visit the physical museum. Results demonstrated that virtual atmospheric cues exercise a significant effect on the perception of vividness and presence. Both vividness and presence influence serious leisure and this, in turn, affects serious leisure in a virtual museum environment.
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Confirmation bias, as the term is typically used in the psychological literature, connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand. The author reviews evidence of such a bias in a variety of guises and gives examples of its operation in several practical contexts. Possible explanations are considered, and the question of its utility or disutility is discussed.
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Effects of physical effort have been difficult to find in attention tasks for various reasons, such as the activating effect of the laboratory situation or the spare capacity in automated tasks. Instead, a double task, reflecting quantitatively the changes of information processing, is proposed. Thirty minutes after a paced circuit training, a visual-auditory task was presented for 40 min: tachistoscopically presented dot patterns together with high and low tones. This was done at an easy pace, leaving it up to the subject to decide what to reproduce, as in normal circumstances. No effect was found in the total correct scores or in the auditory task. Deterioration was found only in the more difficult part of the visual task. The results can be explained in terms of Kahneman’s variable-allocation capacity model. This method seems promising for separating effects on different stages of information processing.
Der Schmidt/Thews ist eine Institution. Als Standardwerk der Physiologie hat er Generationen von Medizinern während ihrer gesamten Laufbahn zuverlässig begleitet. Auch in der 27. Auflage erreicht dieses Werk dank seiner hochqualifizierten Herausgeber und Autoren den höchsten Standard an inhaltlicher Exzellenz und Aktualität. Seine ausgefeilte Didaktik, die in ein ansprechendes Layout eingebettete Fülle farbiger Abbildungen und die edle Ausstattung setzen Maßstäbe. So ist und bleibt der Schmidt/Thews ein Lehrbuch das man hat, weil man es eben haben möchte.