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Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead

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Abstract

Throughout the last decades, research has generated a substantial body of theory about Spatial Presence experiences. This chapter reviews some of the most important existing theoretical explications. First, building on notions offered in literature, the core of the construct will be explicated: What exactly is meant by the term “Spatial Presence”? Second, theoretical views on the “feeling of being there” provided by different Presence researchers are introduced. Important aspects and determinants of Spatial Presence have been highlighted in the past, such as attentional processes and embodied cognition. However, coherent theoretical frameworks are rare and more empirical research seems necessary to advance the theoretical understanding of Spatial Presence. The chapter concludes with an overview about recent controversies and future trends in Spatial Presence research.
115© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
M. Lombard et al. (eds.), Immersed in Media, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-10190-3_7
Chapter 7
Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art
and Challenges Ahead
Tilo Hartmann , Werner Wirth , Peter Vorderer , Christoph Klimmt ,
Holger Schramm , and Saskia Böcking
Abstract Throughout the last decades, research has generated a substantial body
of theory about Spatial Presence experiences. This chapter reviews some of the
most important existing theoretical explications. First, building on notions offered
in literature, the core of the construct will be explicated: what exactly is meant by
the term “Spatial Presence”? Second, theoretical views on the “feeling of being
there” provided by different Presence researchers are introduced. Important aspects
and determinants of Spatial Presence have been highlighted in the past, such as
attentional processes and embodied cognition. However, coherent theoretical
frameworks are rare and more empirical research seems necessary to advance the
theoretical understanding of Spatial Presence. The chapter concludes with an
overview about recent controversies and future trends in Spatial Presence research.
Keywords Spatial presence Telepresence Attention Embodiment Embodied
cognition
T. Hartmann (*)
Department of Communication Science , VU University Amsterdam ,
Amsterdam , The Netherlands
e-mail:
t.hartmann@vu.nl
W. Wirth S. Böcking
Department of Communication and Media Research , University of Zurich ,
Zurich , Switzerland
P. Vorderer
Department of Media and Communication Studies , University of Mannheim ,
Mannheim , Germany
C. Klimmt
Department of Journalism and Communication Research , University of Music,
Drama and Media Hannover , Hannover , Germany
H. Schramm
Department of Human-Computer-Media , University of Würzburg ,
Oswald-Külpe-Weg 82 , D-97074 Würzburg , Germany
e-mail:
holger.schramm@uni-wuerzburg.de
116
7.1 Introduction
With research on Presence maturing over the years, the original concept (Minski
1980 ) became more complex and multi-faceted, which inevitably caused a dif-
ferentiation into sub-concepts. Lee ( 2004a ) distinguishes physical, social, and
self- presence. Other scholars distinguish between Spatial Presence, Social Presence,
and Co-Presence (Ijsselstein et al. 2000 ). Spatial Presence is probably the subtype
that has received most attention from researchers, which may be due to its close
relationship with Minski’s ( 1980 ) foundational considerations on machine-mediated
tele- operations that function effectively if the human users feel located at the place
of operation. Spatial Presence thus refers to the perception or illusion to be located
in an environment that is conveyed by some sort of media technology (Biocca 1997 ;
Sheridan 1992a , b ; Riva et al. 2003 ; Lee 2004a ). Another reason for the concept’s
prominence is certainly the wide range of media applications that benefi t from
the capacity to induce Spatial Presence. For instance, Spatial Presence has been
proposed as a precondition for effective telemedical services (e.g., Westwood
et al. 1999 ). Spatial Presence is also a driving component of media enjoyment, for
instance, in players of video games (Tamborini and Skalski 2006 ). Many e-learning
approaches also rely on students’ experience of Spatial Presence in a mediated
educational environment (Regian et al. 1992 ; Psotka 1995 ). Numerous further
examples will come to the readers’ mind immediately, because Spatial Presence is
important in any kind of simulation application (e.g., Biocca and Levy 1995 ), and
there is a virtually infi nite number of domains in which effective simulation is
desirable.
The history of the concept of Spatial Presence is driven by the remarkable
advances in audiovisual and multimodal display technologies that have occurred in
the past 20 years. With better graphics and sound, meaningful interactivity and
almost full coverage of the user’s perceptional system (“virtual reality”), advanced
media technology has demonstrated its power to deliver experiences of Spatial
Presence. The causal relationship between increased media capacities and higher
probabilities and intensities of Spatial Presence is obvious, yet in demand of
theoretical explanation. For instance, one alternative determinant of Spatial Presence
is the individual processing and imagination of the users, which probably interacts
with the media technology to form experiential states. Thus, powerful and convinc-
ing media technology may not always be the only way to establish Spatial Presence
(e.g., Gysbers et al.
2004 ; Schubert and Crusius 2002 ). The interplay between
medium and user (and potentially additional situation characteristics) in the formation
and endurance of Spatial Presence has therefore been construed in various theories
and models. Based on lessons from technology development and empirical inquiries,
these theories represent the conceptual state of the art in the fi eld. Reviewing and
synthesizing the theoretical advances on Spatial Presence promises to be a fruitful
endeavor, but is also diffi cult, because Presence research is highly interdisciplinary.
Great diversity exists in contemporary Spatial Presence theory, which refers to both
(meta)theoretical foundations and conceptual focus of the construct explication.
T. Hartmann et al.
117
Engineers, for example, will necessarily give their models of Spatial Presence a speci c
shape that differs from the general approach of philosophers or psychologists.
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce those models of Spatial Presence that
in our view represent the most prominent and advanced approaches (see for existing
excellent reviews Nunez 2007 ; Draper et al. 1998 ; Barfi eld et al. 1995 ; Riva et al.
2003 ; Lee 2004a ; Schuemie et al. 2001 ; Sanchez-Vives and Slater 2005 ). In line
with our own background, we will primarily focus on models that highlight
the psychological underpinnings of Spatial Presence. From this walkthrough of the
state of the art in the conceptualization of Spatial Presence, we proceed to discuss
some of the unresolved and emerging challenges. Before we review Spatial Presence
theory and draw our conclusions, however, we fi rst try to offer a comprehensive
introduction to the term Spatial Presence and its common understanding.
7.2 Conceptualizations of Spatial Presence – A Review
7.2.1 What Is the Phenomenon of “Spatial Presence” About?
Spatial Presence is a genuine experience. People may feel spatially present in non-
mediated natural environments (“natural Presence”, Steuer 1992 ; “proximal
Presence”, Zhao 2002 , p. 264). However, Spatial Presence is usually referring to an
experience that is generated by human-made technologies, namely media systems
(“mediated presence”, Lee 2004a , p. 29; Sheridan 1992b ; Zhao 2002 ). A closer look
at nonmediation phenomena therefore provides a good starting point to derive a
defi nition of Spatial Presence (ISPR 2001 ; Lombard and Ditton 1997 ; Lee 2004a ).
The experience of nonmediation has been conceptualized as “a psychological state
or subjective perception in which even though part or all of an individual’s current
experience is generated by and/or fi ltered through human-made technology, part or
all of the individual’s perception fails to accurately acknowledge the role of the
technology in the experience” (ISPR 2001 ). The defi nition implies that an individ-
ual perceives and experiences media stimuli almost in such a way as if they were
real, even though they are not. If spatially present, users feel located in a mediated
space, even though they are not. Instead of maintaining a critical distance to the
media (Cupchik 2002 ), users start feeling surrounded by the media environment
(Sheridan 1992b ; “mediated sense of Presence”, Steuer; 1992 ) and being temporarily
less aware of the technological source of their experience. Consequently, if spatially
present, “the medium […] appears to be […] transparent […] as a large open
window, with the user and the medium content (objects and entities) sharing the
same physical environment” (Lombard and Ditton 1997 ).
Accordingly, Spatial Presence can be defi ned as the subjective experience of a
user or onlooker to be physically located in a mediated space, although it is just an
illusion. Originally, Spatial Presence experiences have been discussed in the context
of interactive tele-working, with a focus on the teleoperator’s capability to perform
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
118
a task while feeling more or less spatially present in a remote space (Minsky 1980 ;
Draper et al. 1998 ). These roots are still refl ected in early defi nitions of Spatial
Presence, for example in Sheridan’s ( 1992a ) explication of telepresence as a “feeling
like you are actually there at the remote site of operation.” (p. 120). Also, early
defi nitions referred heavily to technological aspects as defi ning elements of Spatial
Presence (for example Zeltzer 1992 : “the degree to which input and output channels
of the machine and the human participant(s) are matched”; p. 129; see also Schloerb
1995 ). However, with researchers from other perspectives becoming aware of the
concept, the common notion of the term changed from technological-oriented
defi nitions and conceptualizations restricted to teleoperation systems to a broader
psychological understanding (see for example Lee 2004a : “a psychological state in
which virtual (para-authentic or artifi cial) objects are experienced as actual objects
in either sensory or nonsensory ways”, p. 37; see also Schubert et al. 1999 ; Ijsselstein
2002 ; Slater and Wilbur 1997 ). With the power of the user’s mind to create vivid
spatial illusions acknowledged, also other media than immersive teleoperating
systems were regarded as being capable to evoke experiences of Spatial Presence
(Lee 2004a ), for example video-games (Tamborini and Skalski 2006 ), television
(Lombard et al. 2000 ) or books (Schubert and Crusius 2002 ; Gysbers et al. 2004 ).
With the advent of psychological conceptualizations, the underlying cognitive,
affective and bodily processes become relevant when defi ning the phenomenon of
Spatial Presence. Recent explications draw strongly on models of (cognitive) psy-
chology. For example, one basic idea that has been incorporated is the assumption
of mental models as the core of Spatial Presence experiences (Biocca 1997 ; Schubert
et al. 1999 ; Wirth et al. 2007 ). Linked to the concept of mental models is an acknowl-
edgement of the close relationship between actions (either carried out or just
imagined) and perception or the construction of meaning (“ecological theory of
perception”, Schuemi et al. 2001 , p. 3; Biocca 1997 ; Haans and IJsselsteijn 2012 ;
Regenbrecht and Schubert 2002 ; Schubert et al. 1999 ; Slater and Usoh 1994 ). Some
researchers, like Zahorik and Jenison (1998), even regard the perception of actions
as the heart of Spatial Presence: “Presence is tantamount to successfully supported
action in the environment” (p. 87). The importance of perceived or imagined actions
is also refl ected in a recent defi nition of Spatial Presence suggested by Wirth et al.
( 2007 , p. 497), who argue that “Spatial Presence is a binary experience, during
which perceived self-location and, in most cases, perceived action possibilities are
connected to a mediated spatial environment, and mental capacities are bound by
the mediated environment instead of reality.
In sum, most researchers understood Spatial Presence as a subjective experience,
conviction or state of consciousness, when perceivers feel bodily or physically situ-
ated in a mediated environment. Beyond this common ground, the understanding of
Spatial Presence varied, however. The next section will therefore review a number
of selected theoretical elaborations of Spatial Presence in order to provide a more
detailed overview of how the construct has been explicated in the past (see for an
excellent review also Nunez 2007 ). The overview also implies a discussion of the
determinants that have been set forth in the different conceptualizations. First,
Draper et al.s (
1998 ) attention-based model of Spatial Presence will be reviewed.
T. Hartmann et al.
119
Second, Steuer’s ( 1992 ) explication of telepresence will be discussed. The concep-
tualization argues that sensory stimulation is a key mechanism of Spatial Presence.
Third, the work of Slater and colleagues will be reviewed. They argue that “feeling
there” depends on “doing there” and that sensory information is integrated in a
mental model or cognitive Gestalt, which forms the basis of Spatial Presence. This
approach is similar to Schubert et al.s ( 2001 ) embodied cognition framework of
Spatial Presence, which will be discussed in a fourth step. Fifth, the work by Wirth
et al. ( 2007 ) will be explicated; they sought to develop an integrative two-
level model of Spatial Presence formation. The model also stresses cognitive
mechanisms underlying Spatial Presence, namely the role of a spatial situation
model and perceptual hypotheses. The review closes with a follow-up contribution
by Schubert ( 2009 ) that conceptualizes Spatial Presence as a cognitive feeling.
7.2.2 Draper and Colleagues: Attention as a Key
Determinant of Spatial Presence
If a user encounters a mediated environment, the depicted spatial scenery may
challenge the actual reference system of the user (Slater 2002 ; Wirth et al. 2007 ). It
might be argued that the media system competes with the actual environment of the
user for controlling his or her senses – in order to induce their “spatial logic” and to
override the existing spatial reference system of the user. Accordingly, attention
seems to play a major role in the development of Spatial Presence. Building on
these assumptions, Draper et al. ( 1998 ) proposed an attentional model of Spatial
Presence. “In the context of the attentional model, telepresence can be interpreted as
a state arising from commitment of attentional resources to the computer-mediated
environment. The more attentional resources that a user devotes to stimuli presented
by the displays, the greater the identifi cation with the computer-mediated environ-
ment and the stronger the sense of telepresence” (p. 366). According to Draper
et al., attention is a key component of Spatial Presence formation, as it may direct
users’ sensory perception to mediated stimuli and away from cues provided by the
real environment. Draper et al. are not specifi c about the information that needs
to be processed by the user, but consider attention to be suffi cient to evoke Spatial
Presence: “When attentional resources are totally committed to the computer-
mediated environment, the user will report a strong sense of telepresence” (p. 368).
Similar to Draper et al., many Presence researchers highlighted the importance
of attention in the formation of Spatial Presence (Kim and Biocca 1997 ; Bystrom
et al. 1999 ; Wirth et al. 2007 ). However, whereas most acknowledged that attention
is important in the formation of Spatial Presence, less clarity exists about what
spatial information users need to perceive in order to foster Spatial Presence.
Clearly, attentional resources can be absorbed even by stimuli that are not capable
to evoke a spatial sensation at all (e.g., a “Ganzfeld”, Zeltzer 1992 , p. 128). In sum,
attention appears to be a necessary condition for Spatial Presence experience. But it
does not seem suffi cient to construe the “feeling of being there” as a mere function
of attentional action.
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
120
7.2.3 Steuer: Mapping the Sensory Stimuli Impinging
on Our Senses
“We are immersed in a very high bandwidth stream of sensory input, organized by
our perceiving systems, and out of this ‘bath’ of sensation emerges our sense of
being in the world” (Zeltzer 1992 , p. 128). Like Zeltzer, many researchers have
stressed the notion that the very building blocks of Spatial Presence are the sensory
inputs generated by a media system (for example Sheridan 1992a ; Biocca 1997 ).
One of the fi rst and probably most infl uential works to put this notion forward was
Steuer’s ( 1992 ) article on the dimensions of Telepresence (i.e. Spatial Presence).
According to Steuer, Spatial Presence mainly builds on two properties of a media
system, vividness and interactivity (see for a similar notion Sheridan 1992a , b ).
Steuer understands vividness as “the representational richness of a mediated
environment as defi ned by its formal features, that is, the way in which an environment
presents information to the senses ” (p. 2, highlighted by the authors). In general, the
more different senses a media system addresses (visual, auditive, haptical senses,
etc.…), the higher the breadth of its vividness. The more each sensory channel is
occupied by stimuli generated by the media system as opposed to the physical
environment, the stronger is the “saturation of the sensory channels engaged” (p. 5),
and the more intense is the vividness provided by a media system. A media system’s
vividness may be further improved, if sensory channels that are not stimulated by
the media are actually suppressed (i.e., “dampen[ed], eliminate[d], or minimize[d]”,
p. 5). The reason is that unsupported sensory channels may be occupied by real-
world stimuli, which may distract the user and diminish the illusive power of the
media environment.
But a high breadth and intensity of sensory channels stimulated by a media
environment is not necessarily suffi cient to foster Spatial Presence. According to
Steuer, the decisive characteristics of media system’s vividness eventually is the
“sensory fi delity […] within each sensory channel” (p. 5). The more “the energy
array produced by a mediated display matches the energy array of an unmediated
stimulus” (p. 5), the more accurate is the information provided by a media system.
In sum, Steuer suggests that a media system is capable to evoke Spatial Presence, if
it stimulates selected sensory channels of the user in a profound and natural way,
and suppresses sensory stimulation on any of the unstimulated channels.
The second property of a media system that Steuer (
1992 ) regards as a determinant
of Spatial Presence is interactivity. Interactivity is defi ned “as the extent to which
users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment
in real time” (p. 4). According to Steuer, the interactive capabilities of a media
system vary by “the rate at which [a user’s] input can be assimilated in the mediated
environment” (“speed”, p. 4), by “the number of possibilities for action at any given
time” (“range”, p. 4), and, probably most importantly, by the ability of the system
to map the user’s input in a natural manner (“mapping”, p. 4).
Mapping actually connects both of Steuer’s suggested determinants of Spatial
Presence, vividness and interactivity. Put simply, mapping implies that a media
T. Hartmann et al.
121
system responds in a natural time and with a natural sensory stimulation onto users’
inputs. Touching a seemingly wooden table in a virtual environment, for example,
should immediately result in a haptic sensation of wood. Mapping therefore helps
to solve the diffi cult question about what a natural or adequate sensory stimulation
is that fosters Spatial Presence. The importance of “mapping” has been highlighted
by many Spatial Presence researchers (e.g. Loomis 1992 ; Zeltzer 1992 ; DiZio and
Lackner 1992 ; Biocca and Delaney 1995 ; Slater et al. 1995 ; Biocca 1997 ; Wirth
et al. 2007 ). In general it is assumed that Spatial Presence is a function of the degree
“to which input and output channels of the machine and the human participant(s)
are matched” (Zeltzer 1992 , p. 129; Sheridan 1992a ). More specifi cally, it is argued
that each action undertaken by the user that involves the motor system causes an
inner stimulation, called the “efference copy”, which is memorized in the user’s
central nervous system (“afferent-efferent-loop”, von Holst and Mittelstaedt 1950 ).
Simply put, this efference copy, in turn, generates an automatic expectation what the
sensory stimulation evoked by the action (the so-called “afference”; Loomis 1992 ;
Sheridan 1992a ) will be like. The better the afferent information conceived on an
input matches the expectation based on the efference copy, the better the mapping.
Spatial Presence might therefore result as the stable sensation of the user to be
physically located in the depicted environment, if every action leads to the naturally
expected feedback. However, if the incoming sensory stimulation fails to match the
expectations based on the efference copy, users need to adapt their perception
system in order to retain a balanced and concise experience (see Welch et al. 1996 ;
DiZio and Lackner 1992 ). Due to limitations of the media system, the users’
strivings to adapt can also fail, which in turn may result in imbalanced, unstable
perceptions and experiences (e.g., cyber sickness; DiZio and Lackner 1992 ) and
eventually the diminishing of Spatial Presence.
7.2.4 Slater and Colleagues: Spatial Presence as a Gestalt
and Binary State
The idea that mapping is a crucial mechanism in the formation of Spatial Presence
is also visible in the important work of Slater and colleagues (Sanchez-Vives and
Slater 2005 ; Slater et al. 1996 ; Slater and Steed 2000 ; Slater and Usoh 1993 , 1994 ;
Slater et al. 1994 ; Slater and Wilbur 1997 ). “The key to this approach is that the
sense of ‘being there’ in a VE is grounded on the ability to ‘do’ there” (Sanchez-
Vives and Slater 2005 , p. 333).
Like other presence researchers (e.g., Lombard and Ditton 1997 ; Lee 2004a ),
Slater and colleagues act on the assumption that Spatial Presence entails “a state of
consciousness, the (psychological) sense of being in the virtual environment, and
corresponding modes of behaviour” (Slater et al. 1996 , p. 9). This psychological
state is considered to be the corollary of an immersive virtual environment. An
environment is considered immersive, if it provides an optimal match between the
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
122
displayed sensory data and the user’s proprioception (see for empirical insights,
Sanchez-Vives and Slater 2005 ). Whether a virtual environment is immersive
is therefore determined by its inherent objective features and the fi delity of its
equipment (e.g., visual fi eld of view, degree of interactivity; “external factors”), but
also by user characteristics.
An optimal match between user’s actions and the provided sensory feedback is
supposed to induce a sense of a “virtual body”, i.e. the representation of the user in
the virtual environment (Slater and Usoh 1994 ; see also “self-presence”; Lee 2004a ;
Haans and Ijsselstijn 2012 ). Users immersed in the virtual environment are likely to
identify with their virtual body, as they can engage in an egocentric frame of
reference so that their self-representation in the media scenery coincides with the
viewpoint from which the virtual world is experienced (Slater et al. 1994 ). That
implies that the immersive potential of a medium is high, if the application allows
for a successful implementation of the user’s egocentric reference frame into the
mediated scenery. This assumption is empirically well backed by investigations
conducted by Slater et al. ( 1996 ; see also Jordan et al. 2004 ) and Havranek et al.
( 2012 ). Havranek et al. manipulated the degree of immersiveness of a video game
environment by applying either an egocentric or an exocentric user perspective;
effects on the extent to which users felt spatially present were examined. No matter
if users played or observed the video game environment, they felt more spatially
present if they experienced it from an egocentric perspective (i.e., fi rst-person view)
than if they experienced it from an exocentric perspective (i.e., third-person view).
Obviously, the potential of a media environment’s sensory stimulation to evoke
Spatial Presence increases if users perceive the environment from an egocentric
point of view. An egocentric perspective seems to support a more natural mapping,
and seems to improve the chances that users perceive their virtual body as their
actual body. “Presence occurs when there is successful substitution of real sensory
data by computer-generated sensory data, and when people can engage in normal
motor actions to carry out tasks and to exercise some degree of control over their
environment”(Sanchez-Vives and Slater 2005 , p. 338).
According to Slater and colleagues, next to features of the media environment,
user characteristics play an important role in the formation of Spatial Presence
experiences as well. This notion is in line with a series of other authors who also
argue for the relevance of user factors in the formation of presence experiences
(e.g., IJsselsteijn 2002 ; Draper et al. 1998 ; Lombard and Ditton 1997 ; Schubert
et al. 2001 ; Wirth et al. 2007 ). Building on the Neuro-Linguistic-Programming
model (NLP model), Slater and colleagues argue that users’ mental models and
representation systems structure their subjective experience of Spatial Presence
(Slater and Usoh 1993 , 1994 ). According to the model, all experience is encoded in
terms of three different representation systems, i.e. visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
The predominant representation system of users infl uences the experiences they
will have when navigating through virtual environments and in turn also their
Spatial Presence experiences. For example, users holding a predominant auditory
representation system will primarily construe spatiality by processing auditive spa-
tial cues provided by the environment, whereas more visual-oriented users will rely
T. Hartmann et al.
123
on the graphical details of the depicted scenery (Slater and Usoh 1993 , 1994 ; Slater
et al. 1994 ). This implies that the right sensory stimulation to evoke Spatial Presence
also depends on individual characteristics of the user. An adequate mapping seems
particularly important among those sensory channels that are of primary importance
to a user. In sum, the work by Slater and colleagues stresses the importance of a
natural mapping for the formation of Spatial Presence. An egocentric perspective as
well as a match between users’ primary representational systems and the sensory
channels stimulated by a media environment are identifi ed as factors of a natural
mapping.
Next to their ideas about the determinants of Spatial Presence, the work by Slater
and colleagues also contributed to a better understanding of Spatial Presence itself.
In trying to fi nd an alternative way of measuring presence experiences, Slater and
Steed ( 2000 ; see also Brogni et al. 2003 ; Garau et al. 2008 ; Slater et al. 2003 ; Slater
2002 ) introduced the concept of “breaks in presence”. The suggested methodological
approach also has important implications for theory on Spatial Presence. The main
idea of the approach is that media users receive spatial signals from different and
often competing environments – the real environment and the media environment –
which they have to assemble in a consistent cognitive Gestalt. Users may continu-
ously shift their attentional resources towards the specifi c signals belonging to the
virtual or real world. Depending on which of the data streams they primarily rely
on to interpret a situation in a given moment, their referring spatial Gestalt may
correspond more to the world portrayed by the media environment or to the real
world. For the sake of consistency, “sensory data corresponding to the non-favored
interpretation may be ignored, or incorporated into the prevailing Gestalt” (Brogni
et al. 2003 ). Slater ( 2002 ) links this aspect to psychological theories on perceptual
hypotheses testing: Users have to hold a “working assumption” about the world
(i.e., the construed spatial Gestalt), which implies that they have to decide for a
consistent interpretation of the situation even in the light of competing signals. If
users primarily rely on data from the virtual environment to build their spatial
“Gestalt”, they may experience Spatial Presence. However, if they rely on the data
stream from the real world, the feeling of being in the virtual world may be lost.
With the users’ attentional focus permanently switching between the real and the
virtual world, a constant transition between feeling spatially present in the one or
the other environment might occur. Slater and colleagues termed this transition
“breaks in presence”: “A break in presence (BIP) is the moment of switch between
responding to signals with source in environment X to those with source in environ-
ment Y. It is equivalent to the aha! Moment in gestalt psychology: the switch
between seeing the duck and the rabbit, for example [in a multistable fi gure]” (Slater
2002 , p. 437). Consequently, Spatial Presence is considered a binary state: The user
either feels present in the virtual environment or not (Slater and Steed 2000 ). Brogni
et al. ( 2003 ) show that the users’ overall feeling of being present in the virtual
environment correlated negatively with the number of breaks in presence reported
during exposure. Similarly, results by Slater and Steed ( 2000 ) indicate that breaks
in presence are associated to the overall feeling of Spatial Presence assessed after
the exposure to a virtual environment.
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
124
7.2.5 Schubert and Colleagues: Spatial Presence
as Embodied Cognition
Schubert et al. ( 1999 ) conceptualize Spatial Presence as a result of embodied
cognition, i.e., the mental representation of actions or possibilities of actions in the
virtual environment. Dwelling on Glenberg’s framework of embodied cognition
(1997), they state “that a virtual environment, like every other environment, is
perceived and understood by mentally combining potential patterns of actions”
(p. 267). Actions can be triggered from objects in the virtual environment that
follow bodily constraints (Gibson 1979 ), for example, opening a door before being
able to leave a room (‘projectable properties’). Or they can be affected by memory
(Glenberg 1997 ), for example, not to open the door because something frightening
is probably behind it (‘nonprojectable properties’).
According to Schubert et al., users of virtual environments mentally model the
action possibilities they perceive in a virtual environment. In contrast to mere spatial
models or a spatial Gestalt, those representations may be addressed as embodied
mental models that build on perceptions of the own body, its position in the room,
and related possible actions. “They are spatial-functional models, not purely spatial
models” (p. 268). Following the conceptualization, the more stimuli from the real
world are suppressed, and the more natural the feedback of a virtual environment
that follows onto any conducted action, the easier the construction of an embodied
mental model is supposed to be. An embodied mental model, once constructed, is
supposed to immediately trigger a feeling of Spatial Presence. Accordingly,
Schubert et al.s central idea is that “[Spatial] presence develops from the cognitive
representation of possible actions that can be performed in the virtual world”
(Regenbrecht and Schubert 2002, p. 426).
In a couple of empirical studies, Schubert and colleagues (Schubert et al. 1999 ;
Regenbrecht and Schubert 2002) show that mental representations of possible
actions indeed enhance Spatial Presence. For example, Spatial Presence increased
the more users were able to predict what would happen next in the media environ-
ment and the greater users’ possibility to explore and actively search the virtual
environment (Schubert et al. 1999 ; Regenbrecht and Schubert 2002). A third study
by Regenbrecht and Schubert (2002) shows that Spatial Presence could even be
increased my merely suggesting action possibilities. In the study, participants
reported a more intense Spatial Presence experience if they expected to be able to
interact with avatars in a virtual environment than participants that could not expect
such an interaction possibility.
In sum, in their approach of Spatial Presence as embodied cognition, Schubert
et al. ( 1999 , 2001 ) merged ideas about mental models that already circulated in
presence research (Biocca 1997 ) with theories about the importance of body actions
and motor processes for perception and lived cognition (Gibson 1979 ; Varela et al.
1991 ). Their idea of an embodied mental model that underlies the sensation of
Spatial Presence corresponds with recent theorizing about Spatial Presence (Haans
and IJsselstijn 2012 ). It also shares many similarities with the notion of Slater
T. Hartmann et al.
125
( 2002 ) that Spatial Presence is the result of a consistent spatial Gestalt. Both
approaches stress the importance that the media system needs to naturally map
users’ sensory channels. In both approaches, the body of the user emerges as the
central object that needs to be appropriately represented in the media environment
for Spatial Presence to occur. Schubert et al.s approach also converges with Steuer’s
ideas (1992) in that they both stress the role of actions within the media environment.
For Steuer ( 1992 ), user actions must lead to a natural response of the media environment
in order to induce Spatial Presence (mapping). In addition, they provide convincing
evidence that even anticipated actions may already trigger Spatial Presence.
7.2.6 Wirth and Colleagues: Spatial Presence Resulting
From a Confi rmed Perceptual Hypothesis
Wirth et al. ( 2007 ) developed a Two-Level-Model of Spatial Presence that aims to
explain the formation of Spatial Presence on the basis of several perceptual and
cognitive processes, as well as media and users factors. They claim that the model
is adaptable to all kind of media, i.e., not only to virtual reality but also to low-
immersive media like fi lms and books. In the model, Spatial Presence is reduced to
its core experience consisting of two dimensions: the feeling of being physically
present in a mediated environment (“self location”), and the perception of having
possibilities to act in this environment (“possible action”; Wirth et al. 2007 ; see also
“interactions” in the embodied presence framework of Schubert et al. 1999 ). Further,
like in previous approaches (e.g., Draper et al. 1998 ), the model sketches the media
exposure situation as a confl ict or struggle between the spatial environment of the
“apparent reality” and the one of the media environment. Similar to the notion of
Slater ( 2002 ), Spatial Presence is thought to be the result of a user accepting the
spatial logic provided by a media environment.
The Two-Level Model argues that the formation of Spatial Presence basically
entails two crucial steps. According to the rst level of the model, users – after
allocating their attention to the media stimulus – construct a spatial situation model
of the media environment (McNamara 1986 ). The spatial situation model is simply
understood as a cognitive representation of the spatial scenery depicted by an
environment, similar to Slater’s ( 2002 ) notion of a spatial Gestalt. Its formation
involves processes of subjective construction and interpretation (Oostendorp 1994 ;
Rinck et al. 1997 ). The spatial situation model may be continuously adapted during
a media exposure episode, but just like a mental Gestalt it tends to be complete and
consistent (Schnotz 1988 ; Slater 2002 ).
According to the Two-Level Model, the spatial situation model is expected to be
more detailed and comprehensive, the more spatial cues the medium offers and the
more attentive and motivated users are (Lee et al. 2004 ). In addition, cognitive
abilities of users like their spatial visual imagery skills are thought to support
the formation of a spatial situation model. Spatial visual imagery skills belong to
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
126
the broader construct of spatial ability (Hegarty et al. 2002 ). They imply that an
individual is capable to produce vivid spatial imaginations. Individuals with higher
spatial visual imagery skills fi nd it easier to fi ll in missing space-related information
from their memory. Accordingly, spatial visual imagery skills may allow for a rich
and stable spatial situation model even if the spatial data provided by the media
product is poor (Bestgen and Dupont 2003 ; Dean and Morris 2003 ).
According to the Two-Level Model by Wirth et al. ( 2007 ), a spatial situation
model is a mere mental representation of the spatial logic provided by an environ-
ment. A photo or a postcard may already evoke a spatial situation model. Such a
model is not equivalent to the way users understand their actual spatial surrounding;
it only provides an alternative interpretation of what the actual surrounding may be.
However, a spatial situation model may challenge users’ momentarily activated
understanding of their spatial surrounding. If convincing, it may urge them to adapt
their prevalent interpretation of the situation. The second level of the Two-Level
Model by Wirth et al. ( 2007 ) conceptualizes this “struggle” between users’ prevalent
interpretation of their spatial surrounding and the new and competing information
provided by the media-bound spatial situation model.
According to the Two-Level Model, users’ prevalent understanding of their
actual surrounding can be addressed as their “Primary Egocentric Reference Frame”
(Riecke and von der Heyde 2002 ). A Primary Egocentric Reference Frame defi nes
which space surrounds the own body and accordingly, how incoming spatial
information is ordered. All perceived objects, including one’s own body, are posi-
tioned with reference to the spatial logic inherent to the Primary Egocentric
Reference Frame. A picture on a postcard may provide an alternative spatial scenery
to the real world (e.g., the living room), for example, but as long as the spatial logic
of the postcard is not accepted as the Primary Egocentric Reference Frame, the
spatial scenery of the picture will be interpreted as secondary and the postcard (and
the depicted space) itself will be located according to the spatial order of the Primary
Egocentric Reference Frame.
According to the Two-Level Model, on the second level of Spatial Presence
formation, users unconsciously choose a Primary Egocentric Reference Frame,
i.e., they start to either believe in the spatial surrounding of the real or the mediated
environment, depending on if they follow the logic of the spatial situation model of
the real world or the one of the media environment. Similar to Slater’s approach
(2002), the Two-Level Model refers to the theory of perceptual hypotheses ( Bruner
and Postman 1949 ) to illustrate this choice. The model argues that acceptance of a
reference frame is identical to the confi rmation of a perceptual hypothesis. If the
spatial information of the media environment is accepted as the Primary Egocentric
Reference Frame, the feeling of being in the environment – or Spatial Presence –
should emerge.
Media factors, user activities, and user characteristics are thought to affect the
outcome of the perceptual hypothesis testing. A lack of user motivation to experience
Spatial Presence may be overruled by pervasive and convincing media characteristics
(for example highly immersive virtual reality applications). In turn, insuffi cient
spatial cues of the media environment (for example a book scenario) may be
T. Hartmann et al.
127
counteracted by users’ traits and actions. Specifi cally, user’s absorption, involvement,
and suspension of disbelief are considered to be relevant with regard to the test of
perceptual hypotheses (Böcking et al. 2005 ). Trait absorption refers to an individu-
al’s motivation and skill in dealing with an object in an elaborate manner (Wild et al.
1995 ). Involvement is regarded as a form of intensive cognitive elaboration of the
media environment (Wirth 2006 ). A highly involved user is willing to keep his or
her attention onto the media stimulus and to deeply process the incoming information.
According to the model, users can also actively suspend any upcoming disbelief
(Bystrom et al. 1999 ). The concept of suspension of disbelief originated in literature
theory (Coleridge 1817 /1973). Suspension of disbelief can be defi ned as the inten-
tional elimination of external stimuli and internal cognitions that might contradict
the (spatial) illusion provided by a medium.
In sum, the proposed Two-Level Model of Spatial Presence aimed to integrate
many of the ideas and thoughts that already existed in the Spatial Presence literature.
Key ingredients of Spatial Presence formation, like attentional processes, mental
spatial models, and the struggle of competing spatial scenarios play an important
role in the suggested model, as well. Empirical support for the model is growing
(Havranek et al. 2012 ; Hofer et al. 2012 ; Wirth et al. 2012 ). However, the model
tells less about how a media environment should map users’ senses in order to evoke
Spatial Presence, even though “mapping” has been stressed as an important
mechanism in many previous conceptualizations (e.g., Sanchez-Vives and Slater
2005 ). Similar to other existing approaches, the Two-Level Model also stresses
primarily cognitive mechanisms that may underlay the formation of Spatial
Presence. This raises the question of whether the model conceptualizes the phenom-
enon suffi ciently or if emotions or “hot mechanisms” like arousal also play an
important role in the formation of Spatial Presence.
7.2.7 Schubert: A new Conception of Spatial Presence – Once
Again, With a Feeling
In a recent theoretical contribution, Schubert ( 2009 ) suggests that we understand
Spatial Presence as a cognitive feeling. It should be noted that Schubert’s approach
does not intend to explain to what extent users’ emotions (e.g., feelings of sadness)
infl uence the Spatial Presence experience. However, his conceptualization helps to
combine previous approaches from Schubert et al. ( 1999 ), Slater ( 2002 ) or Wirth
et al. ( 2007 ) in a parsimonious way. “Feelings are immediate, given, and not
consciously inferred in a deliberate process” (p. 8). Previous models failed to fully
explain how Spatial Presence as a subjective experience should result from
unconscious processes. But if Spatial Presence is understood as a cognitive feeling,
it can be entirely based on unconscious processes, even though users consciously
experience the sensation. The general function of feelings is to inform the conscious
mind about the status of unconscious processes. Cognitive feelings “report about”
unconscious cognitive processes, for example, in the context of feelings of knowing
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
128
or tip-of-the-tongue states (Burton 2009 ). Accordingly, Schubert ( 2009 ) suggests
that “Spatial Presence is a feedback of unconscious processes of spatial perception
that try to locate the human body in relation to its environment, and to determine
possible interactions with it. If the spatial cognition processes are successfully able
to locate the body in relation to the perceived environment, and construct possible
actions in it, the feeling of spatial presence is fed back and becomes available
for conscious processes” (p. 15). Thus, Schubert’s notion of Spatial Presence as a
feeling helps to combine several important “ingredients” previously mentioned in
the literature, including the perception of possible actions, the role of a spatial
mental model or Gestalt, and the testing of perceptual hypotheses. In sum, Schubert’s
notion provides a parsimonious and illuminating conceptualization of Spatial
Presence as an outcome of automatic processing, which is compatible with many of
the previous approaches.
7.3 A Brief Conclusion and Four Challenges Ahead
Theory development has continued to expand in the fi eld of Spatial Presence. Early
works on Spatial Presence were quite diverse as they departed from different scien-
tifi c disciplines, but now there seems to be a trend towards a more psychological
understanding of the phenomenon. Accordingly, theoretical models of Spatial
Presence start to converge. There is now a widespread consensus that Spatial
Presence is a subjective experience or (cognitive) feeling of the user of being physically
located within the space depicted by a medium. Agreement on the determinants
of this “feeling of being there” seems to be growing, too. For example, most
researchers seem to agree that in highly immersive media environments, such as
CAVE systems, automatic processes of spatial cognition are apparently the drivers
of Spatial Presence (see Lee 2004b ). Spatial Presence may thus occur in highly
immersive virtual environments even if people do not want it, do not expect it, or are
fully aware that they experience just an illusion. This is because immersive virtual
environments guide users’ attention (Draper et al. 1998 ; Wirth et al. 2007 ;
Regenbrecht and Schubert 2002), provide natural feedback on users’ inputs, and
may convincingly stimulate users’ senses in a similar way as real-world objects
would do (e.g., Sheridan 1992a , b ; Steuer 1992 ; Slater 2002 ). Various conceptualiza-
tions consider the body of a user as the pivotal object that needs to be appropriately
embedded in the mediated world (e.g., Schubert 2009 ; Sanchez-Vives and Slater
2005 ). “Presence is enhanced when body movements in interaction effects are not
just arbitrarily coupled (a mouse-click moves the virtual body forward), but coupled
in a way that fi ts the experiences one has with one’s body” (Schubert 2009 , p. 16).
Most approaches share the assumption that the bodily interaction with a virtual
environment enhances the sense of Spatial Presence if this interaction is intuitive,
meaningful, well-timed (e.g., no delay in the computer system’s response to a
movement), and, most importantly, consistent and error-free (e.g., Haans and
IJsselstijn
2012 ; Sheridan 1992a , b ).
T. Hartmann et al.
129
7.3.1 Can Users Feel Spatially Present in Non-interactive
Settings?
More variance in the conceptualizations emerges, however, when it comes to the
sensation of Spatial Presence in users of less immersive media environments,
especially non-interactive media like television or books. There is some empirical
evidence for Spatial Presence experiences in such environments (e.g., Schubert and
Crusius 2002; Gysbers et al. 2004 ), but the explanations for these phenomena are
somewhat different between the reviewed models. Some models do not cover
Spatial Presence experiences that may occur outside of virtual environments (e.g.,
Steuer 1992 ). Other approaches (which often are rooted in a psychological perspec-
tive), like the notion of Spatial Presence as a cognitive feeling (Schubert 2009 ) or
the Two-Level Model (Wirth et al. 2007 ), suggest that Spatial Presence in virtual
environments is only a special case of a more general phenomenon. Draper et al.
( 1998 ) base their model solely on attentional processes which can theoretically refer
to any kind of (mediated) environment. Those approaches attempt to explain any
experience of Spatial Presence independently of the medium.
The question therefore remains if Spatial Presence is bound to immersive virtual
environments (which would require different notions and models for comparable
experiences in users of television, books, etc.) or if Spatial Presence is a general
type of media experience that is only most salient and intuitively expectable in users
of virtual environments, but can also occur in non-immersive communication
settings. In our view, this question is one of the most critical challenges for the
progress of Spatial Presence theory, as it implies the need for clarifi cations of the
relationship between Spatial Presence and other media experiences, such as trans-
portation (Green and Brock 2000 ); suspense (Vorderer et al. 1996 ), involvement
(Wirth 2006 ), and fl ow (Sherry 2004 ).
7.3.2 Spatial Presence: A Binary or Continuous Experience?
Some of the reviewed models argue that Spatial Presence is a binary sensation that
is either “on” or “off” (e.g., Slater 2002 ; Wirth et al. 2007 ). As media users may
experience Spatial Presence to be “on” for longer or shorter periods during exposure,
their subjective perceptions may converge into a resulting experience of specifi c
intensity of Spatial Presence. However, a fi ne temporal resolution of measurement
would actually identify time portions in which Spatial Presence is either “on” or
“off”. This view implies a critical-incident notion of the formation of Spatial
Presence, which means that if certain circumstances are given, the experience
switches abruptly from “off” to “on”: Within a moment, users (subjectively) enter
the media space (and leave the real space).
An alternative view would consider Spatial Presence as a continuous experience,
which means that users can actually perceive different intensities of Spatial Presence
7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
130
on a scale between “not at all” to “maximum possible” (see ISPR 2001 ). A medium
value of Spatial Presence would then mean that users feel half present in the mediated
environment and half present in the real environment. For example, fi ndings reported
by Kim and Biocca ( 1997 ) suggest such a mixed-experience structure (“departure”
from the real world and “arrival” in the mediated world). But further empirical
inquiry is required to resolve this theoretical question. Maybe the construal of
Spatial Presence as a binary state (on/off) is just a consequence of conceptual over-
simplifi cation, or maybe the notion of a continuous intensity of Presence is just an
artifact of measurement mainly produced by questionnaire tools that allow media
users to produce a (metric) rating value of their experience (Slater 2002 ).
7.3.3 Is There a “Hot Route” to Spatial Presence Experiences?
The number of studies that have reported a link between affect and Spatial Presence
continues to grow (e.g., Baumgartner et al. 2006 ; Västfjäll 2003 ; Banos et al. 2004 ),
but the causal direction of this link seems to be unclear and unifying theoretical
explications are still rare. Schubert’s conceptualization (2009) of Spatial Presence
as a cognitive feeling helps to move the concept closer to affective mechanisms, but
does not aim to conceptualize the role of emotions in the formation of Spatial
Presence. Furthermore, all other reviewed models of Spatial Presence rely heavily
on perceptual and cognitive processes to explicate the formation of Presence experi-
ence, for example, the attention-oriented approach by Draper et al. ( 1998 ) and the
Two-Level Model by Wirth et al. ( 2007 ) that conceptualizes the emergence of a
spatial situation model of the media environment as the link between mere attention
and actual Presence experience. This orientation towards cognition is justifi ed by
the fact that Spatial Presence is about spatial cognition and space-related experience,
of course. Yet, these models may overlook a potential role of affective processes
(i.e., arousal, positive and negative affect, behavioral tendencies triggered by
concrete emotions like fear or joy) in the formation of Spatial Presence. Another
challenge for Spatial Presence theory therefore is to clarify the role of emotion and
forms of affective processing in the formation of Spatial Presence.
7.3.4 Dual Systems: Is Spatial Presence Affected by Refl ective
Processing?
In many studies on Spatial Presence scholars report the paradoxical observation that
users felt like being in the mediated environment despite being fully aware that they
actually were not (e.g., Slater 2011 ). This observation appears paradoxical, because
users simultaneously experience a feeling opposite to their beliefs. However, users’
belief about their actual location may conceptually differ from their intuitive feeling
of “being there”. In line with this idea, Hartmann (
2012 , 2011 ) suggests explaining
T. Hartmann et al.
131
the paradoxical experience underlying most media illusions, including the experience
of Spatial Presence, from the perspective of recent psychological dual process
models (Evans and Stanovich 2013 ). Related approaches argue that human beings
process information in two different brain systems. In the evolutionary older System
1, the intuitive processing system, (sensory) information is processed quickly,
effortlessly, and unconsciously in an associative manner. The system gives rise to
feelings – of which the feeling of “being there” may be one. In contrast, the evolu-
tionary younger System 2, the refl ective processing system, performs slower, more
effortful, and deliberate analytical operations. This system gives rise to beliefs.
Because both systems operate in parallel, users may simultaneously feel spatially
present in a mediated environment while knowing they are not.
However, merging Spatial Presence and dual process theories leads to a number
of yet unsolved but important questions. For example, past research seems to view
Spatial Presence primarily as an outcome of automatic System 1 processing, but
little is known to date about the way System 1 and 2 processing mutually affect each
other in the formation of Spatial Presence. Research on users’ suspension of disbelief
(a process that may be considered a refl ective, intentional suppression of informa-
tion considered unlikely or implausible), for instance, suggests that users’ System 2
processing may effectively infl uence their System 1 processing in the formation of
Spatial Presence (Hofer et al. 2012 ). Clarifying the complex interactions between
users’ automatic and refl ective processing while encountering media environments
promises to further enhance our understanding of Spatial Presence.
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7 Spatial Presence Theory: State of the Art and Challenges Ahead
Part II
Telepresence Research and Design
139© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
M. Lombard et al. (eds.), Immersed in Media, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-10190-3_8
Chapter 8
Ways to Measure Spatial Presence:
Review and Future Directions
Jari Laarni , Niklas Ravaja , Timo Saari , Saskia Böcking , Tilo Hartmann ,
and Holger Schramm
Abstract The chapter focuses on the measurement of spatial presence. Our aim is
review existing measures of spatial presence and provide evaluative classifi cations
of the quality and appropriateness of these measurement methods. In addition to
existing methods, we also shortly discuss the appropriateness of measures that have
not been extensively used so far, such as “think aloud”-method, dual-task measures,
eye-related measures and psychophysiological measures.
J. Laarni (*)
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland , Vuorimiehentie 3 , Espoo , 02044 VTT , Finland
e-mail:
jari.laarni@vtt.fi
N. Ravaja
Department of Social Research and Helsinki Institute for Information Technology ,
University of Helsinki , Unioninkatu 37 , Helsinki 00014 , Finland
School of Business , Aalto University , Runeberginkatu 22-24 , Helsinki 00100 , Finland
e-mail:
niklas.ravaja@aalto.fi
T. Saari
Department of Pervasive Computing/IHTE , Tampere University of Technology (TUT) ,
Tietotalo, F-wing, 2nd Floor, Korkeakoulunkatu 1 , 33101 Tampere , Finland
e-mail:
timo.s.saari@tut.fi
S. Böcking
Netbreeze GmbH , Ringstr. 12 , CH 8600 Düendorf , Switzerland
e-mail:
s.boecking@netbreeze.ch
T. Hartmann
Department of Communication Science , VU – Free University Amsterdam ,
De Boelelaan 1081 , 1081 HV Amsterdam , The Netherlands
e-mail:
t.hartmann@fsw.vu.nl
H. Schramm
Department of Human-Computer-Media , University of Würzburg ,
Oswald-Külpe-Weg 82 , D-97074 Würzburg , Germany
e-mail:
holger.schramm@uni-wuerzburg.de
140
We discuss the pros and cons of the different measures of spatial presence by
using a range of indicators that are typically used to evaluate empirical methods.
Both subjective and objective measures are evaluated in detail according to seven
criteria, reliability, validity, sensitivity, applicability, diagnosticity, obtrusiveness
and implementation requirements. A special emphasis is put on assessing whether a
particular measurement method measures what it is aimed to measure (validity); to
what degree it is able to discriminate different levels of effects (sensitivity); to what
degree it provides information of the causes of differences (diagnosticity); and what
its possible application domains are (applicability).
Our central conclusion is that we need both objective and subjective indicators
of spatial presence, and they should be combined in a single study in a way that
makes sense for the specifi c research question. We also need more comprehensive
and better-validated questionnaires that are theoretically derived and tap the multi-
dimensional nature of the phenomenon. Also, objective indicators of spatial
presence should be selected on the basis of the specifi c dimensions of presence
being assessed.
Keywords Special presence Methods Reliability Validity Sensitivity
Diagnosticity Obtrusiveness Applicability Implementation requirements
8.1 Introduction
In this paper we will discuss the pros and cons of the different measures of spatial
presence by using a range of indicators such as validity, reliability and sensitivity.
We provide short descriptions of existing measures of presence and provide
evaluative classifi cations of the quality and appropriateness of these methods.
Another aim is to provide suggestions of how to improve existing methods and how
to develop better new ones.
8.1.1 Characteristics of Spatial Presence
People’s assumption on what presence is has implications on the measurement of
presence. Some of these assumptions are discussed here. For example, a quite
general view is that presence is a multidimensional construct, similar to workload
or situation awareness. Different authors have listed different explications of pres-
ence (see, e.g., Murray et al. 2000 ; Zhao 2002 ). Zhao, for example, have provided a
fruitful classifi cation by making a distinction between the mode of presence and the
sense of presence. The fi rst distinction refl ects the physical relationship between
the perceiver and the environment. Zhao differentiates three different modes of pres-
ence, proximal presence, remote presence and virtual presence. Sense of presence
J. Laarni et al.
141
is the subjective experience of being present in the mediated environment. It can be
differentiated to physical presence, co-presence and social presence. At the next
lower level there are the different psychological dimensions of presence experience
such as spatial presence and involvement.
When talking about the measurement of presence, we should also ask which
levels of analysis are relevant. Psychological investigation of the presence phenomenon
can take place at many levels of analysis. So far, most of the studies have operated
at levels between interpersonal interaction and physiological, but other levels such
as the social networks and groups, on the one hand, and neurological, on the other
hand, are also possible. Since presence may have effects on different levels
(e.g., sociological, psychological and physiological) we need methods that tap
these different levels of presence. The methods that are used depend on whether
spatial presence is a conscious phenomenon. If presence is a conscious phenomenon
(e.g., Waterworth and Waterworth 2001 ), it can be measured by subjective reports.
However, it is also possible that people are conscious of only some aspects of it. In
the latter case, self-reports, perhaps, cannot give us a full picture of the phenomenon,
but they have to be complemented by objective methods.
By which way we should measure presence depends also on in which media
environments presence can occur. There is some controversy on this issue, but a
quite common view is that presence can only be experienced in virtual environments
(VEs). Proponents of this view claim that experiences of presence should be
differentiated from emotional/intellectual engagement that can be experienced in
other media environments (Waterworth and Waterworth 2001 , 2003 ). Another
view is that, since similar cognitive processes operate in all media environments,
also the psychological phenomenon is the same in all contexts (e.g., Schubert and
Crusius 2002 ).
8.1.2 Which Kind of Measures Are Needed?
Research methods and techniques can be evaluated by several criteria. Seven criteria are
used in this paper, reliability, validity, sensitivity, diagnosticity, applicability, obtru-
siveness and implementation requirements (e.g., ANSI/AIAA 1992 ; Rehmann 1995 ).
Reliability has, at least, two meanings: First, it means the consistency of a
measure, that is, the degree with which the same information is obtained by a
measurement across different times. Second, reliability refers to internal consistency.
Internal consistency means to what degree the test items measure aspects of the
same phenomenon. Internal consistency is typically expressed by calculating the
average correlation among items within a test (e.g., Nunnally and Bernstein 1978 ).
Generally, validity is an indication of whether a particular measure measures
what it is aimed to measure. Several types of validity can be differentiated, face and
content validity, criterion validity (predictive and concurrent validity), and construct
validity (convergent and discriminant validity). Content validity is an indication of the
representativeness of scale items. Criterion validity is a measure of the relationship
8 Ways to Measure Spatial Presence: Review and Future Directions
142
between a particular performance and some criterion behaviour, and construct
validity means to what degree a measure is measuring a theoretical construct.
Sensitivity is an index of whether a particular measure is able to discriminate
levels of effects (e.g., Rehmann 1995 ). Diagnosticity is a characteristic of a measure
to provide information of the underlying causes of differences in test results (e.g.,
ANSI/AIAA 1992 ; Rehmann 1995 ). Applicability indicates to what degree a mea-
sure can be used in different conditions and environments (Jex 1988 ). Obtrusiveness
refers to what degree a particular measure disrupts the task performance and distract
attention away from the media world (Jex 1988 ). The implementation requirements
deal with such issues as overall cost/benefi t of a measure, its administration requirements
and acceptance (Jex 1988 ).
8.1.3 Classifi cation of Presence Measures
We can categorize the presence measures in different ways. The classifi cation can
be based on the ways we gather the data. Alternatively, we could classify the
methods in according to the ways we analyze it. Here we provide a classifi cation
that is based on the different ways of gathering the data: measurement methods are
here categorized as to subjective measures and objective measures. This does not,
however, mean that there is a clear distinction between subjective and objective
measures. Since subjective and objective measures should be seen as positioning
along a continuum going from subjective to objective ones, measures are more or
less subjective or objective (van Baren and IJsselsteijn 2004 ). Subjective and
objective measures can be further classifi ed in different ways. In the following part
of the paper, subjective (Sect. 8.2 ), and objective (Sect. 8.3 ) measures of presence
are discussed and evaluated with the criteria introduced in Sect. 8.1.2 .
Another distinction can be made between quantitative and qualitative measures.
All objective measures are quantitative in nature, but subjective measures can be
both qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative methods involve manipulation and
analysis of numerical data by using statistical procedures. Qualitative techniques
are subjective methods that focus on the meanings of the information which has
been acquired. The emphasis on qualitative measures is based on the belief that the
attempts to quantify human experiences are, more or less, misguided and will fail
(see, e.g., Denzin and Lincoln 2000 ).
8.2 Subjective Methods
When subjective measures are used, participants have to consciously and introspec-
tively judge and describe their experience. It is assumed that feelings of presence
are something that people can be consciously aware of, and people are able to
express these feelings using verbal statements. It is also assumed that feelings of
J. Laarni et al.
143
presence are something universal, common to most of people, and nearly all
people experience presence when suitable conditions are provided. There also must
be something common in these experiences across individuals. That is, in order to
be meaningful, people should associate the term ‘presence’ to same types of mental
phenomena.
There is evidence that presence is a meaningful concept in this respect, but it is
not guaranteed that all people use the term in the same way and relate it to same
types of experiences. People tend to see things differently from one another, and
there are differences in people’s ability to put their feelings into words.
8.2.1 Post-test Rating Scales/Questionnaires
Post-test rating scales are typically paper-and-pencil questionnaires. They have
been widely used in assessment of state of presence, and there are several question-
naires that have been developed to assess users’ sense of presence in different types
of media environments (e.g., Baños et al. 2000 ; Biocca et al. 2001 ; Hartmann et al.
in press ; Hendrix and Barfi eld 1996 ; Kim and Biocca 1997 ; Kizony et al. 2005 ;
Lessiter et al. 2001 ; Lombard et al. 2009 ; Sas and O’Hare 2001 ; Schubert et al.
2001 ; Slater et al. 1994 , 1995 ; Witmer and Singer 1998 ; Witmer et al. 2005 ; Vorderer
et al. 2004 ).
Van Baren and IJsselsteijn ( 2004 ) mentioned 28 questionnaires that have been
used to measure spatial presence; 16 of them measure spatial presence alone, four
of them measure both spatial and social presence. Many of these questionnaires are
based on an original approach, but their reliability, validity and sensitivity are not
extensively assessed. Most of them are also very short, and in many studies presence
has even been assessed by a single question that directly ask to what degree the
person experienced feelings of presence in the mediated environment.
8.2.1.1 Early Efforts to Measure Presence by Questionnaires
SUS (Slater et al. 1994 , 1995 )
One of the most widely used of the short questionnaires is SUS. This questionnaire
asks six questions which deal with the sense of ‘being there’ in the computer-
generated world; the extent to which there were times when the experience of the
computer-generated world became the dominant reality for the users, so that they
forgot the outside world; and whether users remembered the computer-generated
world as ‘something they had seen’ or ‘as somewhere they had visited earlier’. The
questions are asked on a 1–7 scale each, and the number of 6 and 7 responses is
counted to produce the score for the SUS (e.g., Usoh et al. 1999 ).
There is some evidence for the content and construct validity of the SUS, but its
sensitivity is moderate, at best. For example, there was a signifi cant difference
8 Ways to Measure Spatial Presence: Review and Future Directions
144
between the real condition and the three media conditions in Mania and Chalmers’
( 2001 ) study, but there were no differences between the three media environments.
Additionally, the SUS could differentiate the graphics and text conditions in Nunez
and Blake ( 2003 ), but it was not able to differentiate the low-and high-quality
graphics conditions. Neither could it differentiate stereoscopic and monoscopic
presentation conditions in Baňos et al.s ( 2008 ) study. Recently, Slater et al. ( 2009 )
presented a 11-item pit room questionnaire for assessing participants’ experiences
in a virtual pit room. In a study in which the visual quality of the pit room environment
was modifi ed, it was found that the level of presence was considered higher in a
more realistic environment.
Nichols et al.s ( 2000 ) scale is an extension of Slater’s questionnaire. Presence
items deal such questions as awareness, fl atness of the media context, enjoyment,
lag and attention. This brief questionnaire deals with some novel themes, but its
reliability and validity are not yet evaluated.
Kim and Biocca’s ( 1997 ) Questionnaire
The questionnaire is based on their idea of telepresence as transportation, that is, the
user is fi rst transported, then he/she arrives a particular place and fi nally he/she
returns to the environment of origin (Kim and Biocca 1997 ). The questionnaire
consists of eight Likert scale items. Two factors were found in Kim and Biocca’s
( 1997 ) study. The fi rst factor is called ‘arrival’. It means the sensation of being there
in the mediated environment. This factor was found to have a positive effect on
confi dence in brand preference, which, in turn, has a positive effect on buying
intention (Kim and Biocca 1997 ). The second factor is called ‘departure’. It means
that the user is not being in the physical environment. Departure was shown to affect
both factual memory and recognition memory, and it had a direct positive effect on
buying intention (Kim and Biocca 1997 ).
Kim and Biocca’s ( 1997 ) questionnaire is based on an original approach.
However, since the number of items is small, its reliability is apparently limited. It
has not been carefully validated, but there is some evidence that its validity is
moderate, at best. For example, Kim and Biocca ( 1997 ) found that the presence of
unmediated visual stimuli and the visual angle of the TV set had no effect on
presence ratings. Its sensitivity and diagnosticity seems to be moderate, and it is
mainly applicable to virtual environments only. Because of small number of items,
it is easy to administer and score.
Barfi eld et al. ( 1998 ) Presence Questionnaire; PRQ
(The Presence & Realism Questionnaire)
Based on their earlier questionnaires (e.g., Hendrix and Barfi eld 1996 ), Barfi eld
et al. (
1998 ) presented a 18-item questionnaire which consists of three topic areas,
sense of presence, engagement of senses, perceived fi delity of the interaction
J. Laarni et al.
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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.
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Research on learning with and in immersive virtual reality (VR) continues to grow, yielding more insights into how immersive learning works. However, the actual use of VR learning environments in schools is still in its infancy. A major hurdle that hinders the use of immersive digital media in schools is the lack of guidelines for designing VR learning environments for practical use in schools. Such guidelines need to consider how students interact and learn in VR learning environments and how teachers can use such environments on a day-to-day basis. Using a design-based research approach, we explored the guidelines for creating VR learning content for tenth-grade students in a German secondary school and recreated a real-world, out-of-school VR learning space which can be used for hands-on instruction. This paper investigated how to maximise the experience of spatial presence by creating a VR learning environment in several microcycles. Furthermore, it took a closer look at the influence of the spatial situation model and cognitive involvement on this process. The results were evaluated with ANOVAs and path analyses, showing, for example, that involvement does not influence spatial presence in highly immersive and realistic VR learning environments.
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Organizations and brands have long since used stories to communicate and resonate with their audiences. Nowadays, novel interactive media formats are used to enhance these brand-consumer interactions. Augmented reality (AR) holds the potential to aid brands in having immersive and exploratory interactions with consumers. The aim of this study is to examine the effects of AR in brand storytelling on brand attitude and brand associations, and to explore to what extent (the dimensions of) flow can explain these effects. A single factorial (Type of brand storytelling: AR vs. non-AR) between-subjects field experiment is conducted (N = 83). The results show that AR brand storytelling leads to a higher perceived flow than regular brand storytelling. Furthermore, flow mediates the effects of AR brand storytelling on both brand attitude and brand associations. Notably, the flow dimensions control and attention focus are found to be particularly important for explaining the effect on brand associations.
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This is the first study in which the effects of viewing VR/360-degree video with and without a Cardboard device on news learning outcomes are examined. Cognitive load theory and the dual-coding hypothesis were adopted as the theoretical framework. An experiment was performed with 213 participants watching news clips. The findings show that the participants learned news information better from normal broadcast video or when they watched VR/360-degree video without a Cardboard device than when they watched VR/360-degree video with a Cardboard device. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
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The problem of psychical distance refers to the relationship that a person has with an aesthetic object or work. Two basic traditions can be distinguished that have played a meaningful role in describing the underlying processes. The British Empiricist and Enlightenment traditions established the idea that the 'real' objective properties of aesthetic works engage viewers and evoke feelings of pleasure. The Romantic tradition placed a greater emphasis on interpretive activity in recipients who 'willingly suspend disbelief' and temporarily enter the 'fictive' worlds of poetry and drama. Writing in the early 20th century, Edward Bullough produced the idea of 'psychical distance', which combines both personal involvement and an awareness that the object or event is a cultural artifact. As the 20th century unfolds, we witness the death of the 'aesthetic object' as such and the emergence of a view that accommodates artists, aesthetic artifacts and receivers as open-ended and interacting systems. The complementary role of the realist and constructivist viewpoints is emphasized.
Article
Full-text available
The problem of psychical distance refers to the relationship that a person has with an aesthetic object or work. Two basic traditions can be distinguished that have played a meaningful role in describing the underlying processes. The British Empiricist and Enlightenment traditions established the idea that the ‘real’ objective properties of aesthetic works engage viewers and evoke feelings of pleasure. The Romantic tradition placed a greater emphasis on interpretive activity in recipients who ‘willingly suspend disbelief’ and temporarily enter the ‘fictive’ worlds of poetry and drama. Writing in the early 20th century, Edward Bullough produced the idea of ‘psychical distance’, which combines both personal involvement and an awareness that the object or event is a cultural artifact. As the 20th century unfolds, we witness the death of the ‘aesthetic object’ as such and the emergence of a view that accommodates artists, aesthetic artifacts and receivers as open-ended and interacting systems. The complementary role of the realist and constructivist viewpoints is emphasized.
Conference Paper
This paper describes an experiment to assess the influence of immersion on performance in immersive virtual environments. The task involved Tri-Dimensional Chess, and required subjects to reproduce on a real chess board the state of board learned from a sequence of moves witnessed in a virtual environment. Twenty four subjects were allocated to a factorial design consisting of two levels of immersion (exocentric screen based, and egocentric HMD based), and two kinds of environment (plain and realistic). The results suggest that egocentric subjects performed better than exocentric, and those in the more realistic environment performed better than those in the less realistic environment. Previous knowledge of chess, and amount of virtual practice were also significant, and may be considered as control variables to equalise these factors amongst the subjects. Other things being equal, males remembered the moves better than females, although female performance improved with higher spatial ability test score. The paper also attempts to clarify the relationship between immersion, presence and performance, and locates the experiment within such a theoretical framework.