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Experiencing Nature: Embodying Animals in Immersive Virtual Environments Increases Inclusion of Nature in Self and Involvement With Nature

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Abstract

Immersive virtual environments (IVEs) produce simulations that mimic unmediated sensory experiences. Three experiments (N = 228) tested how different modalities increase environmental involvement by allowing users to inhabit the body of animals in IVEs or watch the experience on video. Embodying sensory-rich experiences of animals in IVEs led to greater feeling of embodiment, perception of being present in the virtual world, and interconnection between the self and the nature compared to video. Heightened interconnection with nature elicited greater perceptions of imminence of the environmental risk and involvement with nature, which persisted for one week. Although the effect sizes were small to moderate, findings suggest that embodied experiences in IVEs may be an effective tool to promote involvement with environmental issues.
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
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Running Head: EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
Experiencing Nature: Embodying Animals in Immersive Virtual Environments Increases
Inclusion of Nature in Self and Involvement with Nature
In press, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Sun Joo (Grace) Ahna*, Joshua Bostickb, Elise Ogleb, Kristine L. Nowakc, Kara McGillicuddyc,
Jeremy N. Bailensonb,
a University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, Department of
Advertising and Public Relations, 120 Hooper Street, Athens GA 30602-3018; b Stanford
University, Department of Communication, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305; c University of
Connecticut, Department of Communication, 337 Mansfield Road-Unit 1259, Storrs, CT 06269-
1259
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, University
of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, Department of Advertising
and Public Relations, 120 Hooper Street, Athens, GA 30602-3018, sjahn@uga.edu
Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank Shawnee Baughman for her help in preparing the
figures.
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Abstract
Immersive virtual environments (IVEs) produce simulations that mimic unmediated sensory
experiences. Three experiments (N = 228) tested how different modalities increase
environmental involvement by allowing users to inhabit the body of animals in IVEs or watch
the experience on video. Embodying sensory-rich experiences of animals in IVEs led to greater
feeling of embodiment, perception of being present in the virtual world, and interconnection
between the self and the nature compared to video. Heightened interconnection with nature
elicited greater perceptions of imminence of the environmental risk and involvement with nature,
which persisted for one week. Although the effect sizes were small to moderate, findings suggest
that embodied experiences in IVEs may be an effective tool to promote involvement with
environmental issues.
Keywords: immersive virtual environments; perspective taking; environmental communication;
connectedness with nature; spatial presence; body transfer; embodied experiences
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Experiencing Nature: Embodying Animals in Immersive Virtual Environments Increases
Inclusion of Nature in Self and Involvement with Nature
Engaging people in environmental concerns requires unique strategies, including
reminding people that humans are connected to, and a part of, nature. The current paper
examines the effectiveness of immersive virtual environments (IVEs), digitally rendered spaces
offering sensory-rich simulations that allow users to experience mediated events in the virtual
world as they might in the physical world, to enhance feelings of interconnectedness and
involvement with nature. Using digital technology to explore existing environmental issues may
facilitate creative solutions and experiences for people that would be difficult to achieve offline.
One such creative solution is to apply IVEs in the process of perspective taking, the
mental simulation of a situation by placing oneself in the shoes of another via imagination
(Batson et al., 1997). Perspective taking has been shown to facilitate a variety of favorable
outcomes including helping (Batson et al., 1981), stereotype reduction (Batson et al., 1997), and
improved interpersonal communication (Fussell & Krauss, 1989). A recent set of studies
extended these findings by using IVEs to assist interpersonal perspective taking, demonstrating
that it led to greater involvement, caring and helping behavior (Ahn, Le, & Bailenson, 2013), and
facilitation of environmental negotiation tasks (Gehlbach et al., 2015).
The current study aims to build on earlier findings by applying the idea of IVE-assisted
perspective taking to human-nature interactions to promote a sense of nature as a part of people’s
self-identity, and involvement with nature. Just as perspective taking increases feelings of
empathy and helping behavior in interpersonal interactions, we anticipate that taking the
perspective of animals will promote caring for nature and the environment. Across three studies,
we introduce novel affordances of IVEs that allow users to experience what it might be like to be
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a cow in a pasture being bred for its meat, or coral reef in an acidifying ocean. As one of the first
attempts to use digital media to assist human-to-nature connections, these experiments test how
taking the perspective of an animal may be realized with IVEs, to see whether it promotes
involvement with nature.
Challenges of Communicating about Nature
The general public fails to recognize environmental problems largely because of two
characteristics of environmental risk. First, many fail to recognize the problem because
environmental degradation is often not directly or immediately observable. For instance,
although ocean acidification decreases the pH of the Earth’s oceans and leads to a grave
disruption of the entire marine system (Caldeira & Wickett, 2003), individuals perceive the risk
of this disruption to be low because they rarely have the opportunity to personally see the
consequences of ocean acidification on marine life. Social science research has demonstrated
that exposure to information alone does not facilitate learning or change behavior as an
individual must engage with and process the content of the message (Bandura, 1977). Additional
research has suggested even when individuals recognize environmental problems that are not
immediately observable, they are more likely to feel less responsible for it because of the
psychological distance (Uzzell, 2000).
Another characteristic of environmental problems is the temporal distance between the
cause (individual behaviors) and the effect (negative consequences) of environmental damage,
which occurs in slow, incremental changes. Large temporal distances between cause and effect
enhance positivity towards future events, because individuals tend to have an overly “rosy” view
of distant futures (Trope, Liberman, & Wakslak, 2007). To promote engagement with an issue,
messages should address this psychological distance as individuals who perceive a risk to be
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temporally proximal perceive greater urgency and report stronger intent to modify their
behaviors than those who perceive the risk to be temporally distant (Ahn, 2015).
Allowing people to personally experience environmental problems can reduce perceived
temporal distance and lead people to see them as more critical than reading mere descriptions of
problems (Rajecki, 1982). With personal experiences, individuals are more likely to consider the
impacts of environmental damage to be personally relevant, perceive immediacy of
environmental risks, and intend to engage in pro-environmental behaviors (Akerlof et al., 2013;
Zaalberg & Midden, 2010). However, recommending personal experience of environmental
damage in nature to promote pro-environmental behaviors would incur exorbitant individual and
social costs and could be dangerous; consider a scenario wherein individuals are recommended
to experience a flood to learn about the consequences of global warming. IVE technology can
simulate these personal experiences and result in similar, but cost-effective and safer, outcomes.
Connecting with Environmental Problems
When people take the perspective of a person or animal, this leads to an increased mental
overlap of the self and other, which induces feelings of closeness and empathy and increases
helping intentions and behaviors (Coke, Batson, & McDavis, 1978; Goldstein & Cialdini, 2007).
Feeling connected with nature should follow the same process: if individuals can be encouraged
to take the perspective of nature and consider nature as a part of their self identities, they are
likely to feel closer, empathic, and more immersed with nature, resulting in pro-environmental
attitudes and behaviors (Clayton et al., 2014; Hartmann & Apaolaza-Ibáñez, 2008, 2009; Liu,
Bonzon-Liu, & Pierce-Guarino, 1997; Mayer & Frantz, 2004).
Providing empirical support to this prediction, scholars have induced empathy and caring
towards nature through perspective taking manipulations in interpersonal contexts. For instance,
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several studies have asked participants to take the perspective of a bird in an oil spill to induce
pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors (Berenguer, 2007; Schultz, 2000; Sevillano, Aragones,
& Schultz, 2007). One study asked participants to take the perspective of a national park as if it
were a living entity (Walker & Chapman, 2003). Another study asked participants to take the
perspective of an individual living in the future experiencing the negative consequences of
environmental problems (Pahl & Bauer, 2013). The collective results of these studies indicate
that considering the perspective of an animal or nature encourages involvement with the
environment; thus, allowing individuals to take the perspective of animals in nature could be a
simple solution to increase engagement with the environment.
However, perspective taking is a controlled, effortful process which requires substantial
cognitive resources (Davis et al., 1996). Outside of the controlled laboratory setting, individuals
may not be willing to expend valuable cognitive energy to the perspective of animals,
particularly if they are fatigued or are unfamiliar with the environmental issue (Gehlbach,
Brinkworth, & Wang, 2012; Hodges & Klein, 2001). Furthermore, a number of studies note that
direct experiences are more influential than indirect ones, such as reading print descriptions
(Hertwing et al., 2004; Rajecki, 1982), implying that providing stimuli that are more similar to
direct experiences will have a stronger impact on empathy.
Embodying Experiences of Animals in Immersive Virtual Environments
By digitally reproducing vivid sensory information, IVEs allow users to experience a
scenario as if it were happening to them, which should enhance the processing of the information
and influence behavior (Bandura, 1977). The rich layers of simulated sensory information mimic
offline experiences better than traditional media or imagination (Ahn, Bailenson, & Park, 2014;
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Ahn, in press; Zaalberg & Midden, 2010), and may enhance involvement with nature, one
important goal of environmental communication.
Simulating Direct Experiences in Virtual Worlds
Direct experiences become associated and stored with existing memories—schemas
and these schemas are later activated and recalled when the individual encounters or thinks about
similar stimuli (Barsalou, 2009). IVEs offer rich layers of sensory information that allow users to
see, hear, and feel external stimuli as if they were offline, experiencing the event at that moment.
This cognitive perception of the space the body is occupying is labeled spatial presence
(Lombard & Ditton, 1997), wherein one’s physical body feels in sync with the movements of the
virtual experience (Hartmann et al., in press). As a result, experiences in IVEs simulate direct
experiences and are able to produce schemas similar to offline experiences.
Video delivers many features of IVEs, though it is not interactive and does not allow the
use of naturalistic movements to control events and objects within the mediated environment
(Skalski et al., 2011), making it less like a direct experience of the phenomenon. IVEs’ increased
capacity for interactivity and naturalistic control of stimuli is anticipated to drive greater
perceptions of spatial presence in the mediated environment than watching a video of the same
event. By comparing the effects of video and IVEs in delivering the same environmental
experience, the current study aims to assess the optimal means of providing direct experience
and enhancing involvement with the environment.
H1: Individuals exposed to an environmental experience through IVEs will perceive
higher spatial presence than individuals exposed to the experience on video.
Amplifying the Effects of Perspective Taking in Virtual Worlds
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In addition to spatial presence, the novel affordance of body transfer offers participants
the realistic illusion of body ownership, that a person has become the virtual body (Slater et al.,
2010). Body transfer can be induced when an individual feels a body part being touched as he or
she watches an external entity being touched; the brain assigns the perception of ownership to
the visible entity being touched rather than the actual body part being touched (Botvinick &
Cohen, 1998). The illusion of body transfer has been demonstrated with fake limbs such as a
rubber hand (Botvinick & Cohen, 1998). Slater and colleagues (2010) demonstrated that body
transfer occurred between a corporeal body and a virtual human, wherein the individual feels
touch while watching a virtual human being touched. This study examines the process of body
transfer with non-human virtual representations, such as animals. We predict this process will
present greater challenges than body transfer into virtual humans due to perceived dissimilarities
between humans and animals and the lack of schema for experiencing the world as an animal.
Traditional perspective taking tasks are difficult when individuals lack the direct
experience required to develop schemas. For instance, few people have direct experience with
certain disabilities, so using IVEs to embody the sensory experiences of a disability one has not
encountered may be much more powerful than relying on an aschematic imagination. Ahn and
colleagues (2013) tested this notion and demonstrated that embodying the experience of a person
with a visual disability in a perspective taking task using IVEs led to greater helping behavior in
the physical world than perspective taking which relied upon imagining the disability. Another
study demonstrated that direct experiences of an opponent simulated through virtual worlds prior
to a negotiation task encouraged individuals to develop a positive attitude toward the opponent
and make more concessions than indirect experiences (Gehlbach et al., 2015). Body transfer
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extends the concept of embodiment to a point where individuals not only share sensory cues but
also feel as if they are the virtual body.
Because IVEs allow individuals to put themselves inside the virtual body of an animal,
they would directly feel the threats it is up against and feel connected to its plight. For instance,
sharing the experience of body transfer of oneself to the cow’s virtual body would clearly help
people understand how a cow would feel being raised for its meat. Although body transfer has
also been demonstrated with video images (Preston & Newport, 2012), we predict that,
influenced by greater spatial presence (H1), embodied experiences in IVEs will lead to stronger
illusions of body transfer than video:
H2: Individuals exposed to an environmental experience through IVEs will perceive
stronger body transfer than individuals exposed to the experience on video.
When individuals use IVEs to embody the experiences of animals and take their
perspective, the sensory-rich experience and the ability to control the embodied animal are likely
to elicit stronger feelings of interconnection between the self and the nature than watching a
video. This connectedness between nature and the self is conceptualized as the extent to which
individuals include the nature in thinking about the self, or inclusion of nature in self (INS;
Schultz, 2001). The concept of INS adequately represents the virtual experience of inhabiting the
body of an entity in nature, and feeling an interconnection with it—a merging of identities—as a
result (Schultz & Tabanico, 2007). The interconnection is assessed by selecting incrementally
overlapping Venn diagram circles that respectively represent the self and nature, better
evaluating the sense of embodiment than other means of assessments for environmental attitudes.
H3: Individuals exposed to an environmental experience through IVEs will perceive
greater inclusion of nature in self (INS) than those watching the experience on video.
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Importantly, INS is not solely driven by technology (Witmer & Singer, 1998) or the
exposure to IVEs. The individual must feel he or she has become the cow, genuinely sharing its
experiences, for the embodied experience to be effective. Thus, high levels of spatial presence
and body transfer should increase feelings that the individual has become one with the animal:
H4: Spatial presence (H4A) and body transfer (H4B) will both mediate the relationship
between experimental conditions and INS.
Overview of Experiments
Three experiments were conducted to compare the effects of embodying animals through
IVEs against watching the experience on video. Experiment 1 confirmed the prediction that IVEs
allow participants to take the perspective of a shorthorn cow and increase feelings of inter-
connectedness with nature (INS). Experiment 2 expanded these findings by showing the
robustness of the embodied experience in IVEs across different contexts by including ocean
acidification, exploring the moderating effect of individuals’ dispositional differences in feeling
connected with nature, extending the investigation of the underlying mechanism, and assessing
changes in individuals’ INS over one week. Finally, Experiment 3 tested the parallel mediation
model from the first two studies, while controlling for individual differences in connectedness
with nature on a larger sample to test the model’s generalizability.
Experiment 1
Experiment 1 explored the extent to which embodying an animal in an IVE would be
more effective in eliciting feelings of INS than watching a video.
Methods
Participants and Apparatus
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A sample was recruited from a large private university in the West. From the total sample
(N = 54), data from five participants were lost due to technical problems. The final sample
consisted of 27 females and 22 males (age M = 20.4, age SD = 1.24). Participants viewed the
virtual world in the IVE condition through a head-mounted display (HMD), a fully immersive
virtual reality helmet that allows for three-dimensional, stereoscopic views of a digitally
rendered environment. An orientation sensor mounted to the HMD was used to track
participants’ physical head movements (pitch, yaw, and roll) and to update the rendered first-
person perspective viewpoint accordingly. LED markers placed on the body were tracked using
optical infrared cameras. To increase immersion in the virtual environment, participants
experienced spatialized sound. Haptic feedback was generated in the form of floor vibrations.
Participants in the video condition watched the video on a 19-inch (48.3 centimeters) monitor.
Design and Procedures
Participants were randomly assigned to either the IVE or the video condition. In the IVE
condition (n = 25), the experimenter placed LED lights on participants’ head and body,
participants got down on their hands and knees, and embodied a virtual shorthorn cow in a
pasture where they saw their cow avatar directly facing them as if looking into a mirror (see
Figure 1). Once the participants were acclimated to their cow avatar, they heard a narration
instructing them to move around the virtual world to eat the feed and drink water. They were
then informed that they would proceed to be loaded onto a truck, and subsequently heard a truck
backing toward them. Haptic feedback was included as they moved toward the sound of the truck
to further induce the sensation of embodiment. When the virtual cattle prod hit the cow in the
virtual simulation, participants heard a buzzing noise, felt a vibration on the floor which was in
contact with their knees and palms, and a confederate poked them in the back.
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Figure 1. Progression of the virtual simulations in Experiment 1 and Experiment 2.
In Experiment 1, participants in the IVE condition viewed the virtual world through a head
mounted display (A). LED markers (B) tracked participants’ physical movements. The tracked
movements were then rendered in real time to the virtual cow (C). Participants were prodded in
the physical world simultaneously as their virtual cow avatar was prodded with a virtual cattle
prod to elicit body transfer (D). Participants ate (E) and drank water (F) in the virtual pasture. In
Experiment 2, participants entered the virtual world and were instructed to step into the body of
the coral (G). A researcher administered simultaneous physical stimulation to the body while
participants saw the net handle intersect their coral torso in the virtual world to elicit body
transfer (H). Participants saw the effects of ocean acidification in acceleration (I) and
experienced the arm breaking off from their virtual coral body with a thud to the ocean floor (J).
In the video condition (n = 24), participants watched a recording of a previous
participant’s IVE experience as a cow (e.g., the virtual cow moving in the virtual pasture) on a
computer monitor. Each participant in the video condition was yoked to one previous participant
of the same gender in the embodiment condition. All participants answered survey questions
regarding their experience.
C
C
D
E
A
B
J
G
I
H
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Measures1
Body transfer. A fifteen item, five-point interval scale assessed how much the
participants felt as if they had become the virtual cow, adapted from Slater et al. (2010). Sample
items were, “When the cattle prod poked your cow avatar, how much did you feel this as if this
was an attack on your body?” and “How strong was the feeling that the body of the cow was
your body?” (1 = Not at all, 5 = Absolutely; Cronbach’s α = .95).
Spatial presence. We employed a five item, five-point interval scale to measure
perceived spatial presence, adapted from Bailenson et al.’s Spatial Presence scale (2005). Sample
items were, “To what extent do you feel like you can reach into the mediated environment
through your cow avatar?” and “To what extent did you feel like you were really inside the
virtual pasture?” (1 = Not at all, 5 = Very strongly; Cronbach’s α = .93).
Inclusion of Nature in Self (INS). We adopted Schultz’s (2001) measure to gauge how
much individuals felt interconnected with nature. The single item, seven-point pictorial scale
uses a series of seven overlapping Venn diagram circles, one circle labeled self and the other
labeled cow. Participants chose the picture that best described how interconnected he or she felt
with the virtual cow.
Results
In support of H1, an independent samples t-test found that participants in the IVE
condition perceived higher spatial presence (M = 2.62, SD = .87) than participants in the video
condition (M = 1.98, SD = .98), t(48) = 2.48, p = .02, d = .69 (95% CI of difference [.12, 1.16]).
In support of H2, an independent samples t-test found that participants in the IVE condition
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EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
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perceived significantly greater body transfer (M = 2.57, SD = .75) than participants in the video
condition (M = 2.05, SD = .93), t(47) = 2.16, p = .03, d = .62 (95% CI of difference [.05, .99]).
H3 was supported with an independent samples t-test showing participants in the IVE condition
perceived significantly higher INS (M = 3.08, SD = 1.41) than participants in the video condition
(M = 1.96, SD = 1.17), t(48) = 3.05, p = .004, d = .86 (95% CI of difference [.40, 1.84]).
Underlying Mechanism – Parallel Mediation Model
The PROCESS path-analysis macro for SPSS (Hayes, 2012; Model 4) was employed.
Bootstrapping methods were used (1000 samples). The parallel mediation model reported that
being in the IVE condition influenced spatial presence (b = .63, p = .02) and body transfer (b =
.52, p = .04). Body transfer then influenced INS (b = 1.04, p < .001) but spatial presence did not
(b = .18, p = .36). The indirect effect from experimental condition to body transfer and then to
INS was significant (95% CI [.08, 1.12]). The indirect effect from experimental condition to
spatial presence and then to INS was not significant (95% CI [-.07, .55]). Thus, H4A was not
supported whereas H4B was supported.
Discussion
These findings demonstrated the potential for using IVEs to take the perspective of non-
human entities. Participants who virtually embodied the cow and were prodded with a virtual
cattle prod felt greater spatial presence and body transfer than those watching the experience
through video. The virtual experience in IVEs also led to greater INS than watching a video.
However, only body transfer mediated the relationship between exposure to IVEs and INS.
Experiment 2
Building on Experiment 1, the second experiment tested the robustness of using IVEs in
taking the perspective of animals by expanding the target of perspective taking to marine life
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
15
endangered by ocean acidification. Several limitations of Experiment 1 were also addressed,
including a deeper investigation into the underlying mechanisms, the consideration of individual
trait variables, and repeated assessments of variables after one week to gauge change over time.
Following the results of Experiment 1, participants that embody the sensory rich
experience of marine life suffering as a result of ocean acidification should feel higher levels of
spatial presence and body transfer than those viewing it via video. IVE participants should feel as
if they have become coral on a rocky reef; seeing, hearing, and feeling its habitat destroyed and
its own body suffering. The sensory-rich experience in IVE is expected to replicate H1, H2, and
H3, resulting in greater perceived spatial presence and body transfer than watching the
experience through video. The heightened spatial presence and body transfer should then lead to
high INS. H4A and H4B will also be tested again in a parallel mediation model. Furthermore,
Experiment 2 will build on the model by exploring the influence of a moderator—trait
connectedness with nature (Mayer & Frantz, 2004)—to evaluate how individual trait differences
in thinking about the nature influences observed outcomes.
RQ1: Does connectedness with nature moderate the parallel mediated pathway between
experimental condition, spatial presence/body transfer, and INS?
IVEs facilitate the ability to depict an accelerated progression of time. Although
environmental degradation occurs in gradual increments in the physical world, computer
graphics are able to portray an accelerated version of these changes. Thus, users may enter a
virtual ocean to experience the negative consequences of an acidification process which depicts
decades’ worth of devastating changes in just a few minutes. This accelerated progression of
time reduces perceived temporal distances, which drives perceived imminence of the risk (Ahn,
2015). The perception of personal relevance and importance leads to issue involvement (Petty &
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Cacioppo, 1981). We predict that perceived imminence will lead to feelings that ocean
acidification is relevant and important. Considering the earlier hypotheses (H1-H4), we predict
those experiencing coral suffering from ocean acidification with IVEs will feel more INS than
those who watch a video of the experience. Increased INS has been shown to lead to more
compassion and active concern about the environment (Schultz, 2000; Sevillano et al., 2007). As
a result, the perceived connection to nature is likely to drive perceptions that the risk of ocean
acidification is real and imminent. The perceived imminence of the risk is then expected to
increase issue involvement. Thus, in extension of the parallel mediation model, we hypothesize:
H5: Individuals with a high INS will feel high imminence of environmental risk, which
in turn, leads to high issue involvement.
Another point of extension from Experiment 1 is exploring the change in the effects of
embodied experiences in IVEs over time. Earlier work suggests that the effects of sensory-rich
virtual experiences persist longer over time than the effects of traditional media (Ahn, 2015; Ahn
et al., 2014). Because we lack sufficient evidence to formulate hypotheses, we ask the following
research questions to investigate the persistence of the parallel mediation model over time.
RQ2: One week following exposure to treatments, will individuals exposed to an
environmental experience through IVEs perceive greater INS than those who
watched the experience on video?
RQ3: One week following exposure to treatments, will spatial presence (RQ3A) and
body transfer (RQ3B) continue to mediate the relationship between experimental
conditions and INS?
Methods
Participants and Procedures
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A sample was recruited from a large private university in the West. The participants’ ages
ranged from 18 to 37 years old, with a mean age of 21.2 years (male n = 26). The same apparatus
from Experiment 1 was used. The experiment was conducted in two phases. At Time 1,
participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, IVE (n = 31) or video (n = 22). In
the IVE condition, participants entered a virtual ocean and saw an avatar, a scaled, three-
dimensional digital representation of a piece of coral. Participants were instructed to look around
the virtual world, step into the body of the coral avatar, and look down to see the body of the
coral. Next, a digital representation of a fishing net attached to a pole appeared in front of the
coral avatar and proceeded to bump repeatedly against the coral avatar’s body. A researcher in
the room simultaneously poked the participant’s torso to induce body transfer (see Figure 1).
Participants observed the consequences of ocean acidification and looked at their coral body
corroding and its limbs breaking off. As the coral branches broke off, haptic feedback in the form
of floor vibrations was combined with the sound of cracking. In the video condition, participants
watched the same sequence of events on a monitor. All participants completed an online
questionnaire. One week later, participants were emailed to assess changes in INS (Time 2).
Measures
Immediately after experimental treatments (Time 1), spatial presence (Cronbach’s α =
.91), body transfer (Cronbach’s α = .96), and INS were measured. Perceived temporal distance
was measured with a single 7-point interval item (1 = Feels very close; 7 = Feels very far away),
“How far away do these consequences of ocean identification feel to you?” Issue involvement
was measured with six 7-point bipolar items asking participants to rate how important, of
concern, relevant, meaningful, of matter, and involving the issue of ocean acidification was to
them (Cronbach’s α = .91). Connectedness with nature (Cronbach’s α = .86) was measured with
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
18
fourteen 5-point Likert scale items from Mayer and Frantz (2004), assessing the extent to which
participants felt connected with nature as an individual trait. Sample items included, “I often feel
a sense of oneness with the natural world around me” and “I often feel a kinship with animals
and plants.” At Time 2, INS was measured again.
Results
In support of H1, an independent samples t-test showed that participants in the IVE
condition (M = 3.01, SD = .90) perceived higher spatial presence than participants in the video
condition (M = 2.04, SD = .58), t(51) = 4.43, p < .01, d = 1.30 at Time 1 (95% CI of difference
[.55, 1.39]). In support of H2, an independent samples t-test showed that participants in the IVE
condition (M = 2.57, SD = .78) felt greater body transfer than participants in the video condition
(M = 2.09, SD = .95), t(51) = 2.00, p = .051, d = .55 at Time 1 (95% CI of difference [0, .97]).
H3 was partially supported with an independent samples t-test showing differences in INS at
Time 1 between participants in the IVE condition (M = 4.48, SD = 1.55) and those in the video
condition (M = 3.64, SD = 1.81) approaching significance, t(51) = 1.83 p = .07, d = .50 (95% CI
of difference [-.10, 1.78]). The direct effect of IVEs on INS (M = 3.80, SD = 1.77) weakened at
Time 2 (video M = 2.91, SD = 2.07), t(51) = 1.67, p = .10, d = .46 (95% CI of difference [-.17,
1.95]). Ad hoc tests of direct effects of experimental condition on other dependent measures
were also conducted. Independent samples t-test showed that participants in the IVE condition
(M = 3.19, SD = 1.40) perceived shorter temporal distance of ocean acidification than those in
the video condition (M = 4.27, SD = 1.75), t(51) = 2.49, p = .01, d = .68 (95% CI of difference
[.20, 1.96]). Independent samples t-test showed that participants in the IVE condition (M = 5.53,
SD = .91) did not perceive greater involvement than those in the video condition (M = 5.61, SD =
1.03), t(51) = .28, p = .78, d = .08 (95% CI of difference [-.62, .46]).
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
19
Underlying Mechanisms - Parallel Mediation Analyses with Moderator
To explore RQ1, H4A, and H4B, the PROCESS path-analysis macro (Model 5) was
employed. The parallel mediation model reported that being in the IVE condition influenced
spatial presence (b = .97, p < .01) and body transfer (b = .48, p = .05). Both spatial presence (b =
.67, p = .04) and body transfer (b = .49, p = .07) then influenced INS at Time 1. Connectedness
with nature did not serve as a moderator (b = -1.05, p = .13), but had a significant direct effect on
INS (b = 1.43, p < .01). Connectedness with nature was also significantly correlated with spatial
presence (r = .38, p = < .01) but not with body transfer (r = .22, p = .11). The indirect effect from
experimental condition to spatial presence and then to INS at Time 1 was significant (95% CI
[.11, 1.63]). The indirect effect from experimental condition to body transfer and then to INS at
Time 1 was also significant (95% CI [.01, .75]). H4A and H4B were supported.
To explore RQ2, another PROCESS analysis (Model 5) was employed. Being in the IVE
condition influenced spatial presence (b = .94, p < .01) and body transfer (b = .47, p = .05). Body
transfer (b = .65, p = .05) influenced INS at Time 2, but spatial presence did not (b = .63, p =
.11). Connectedness with nature did not serve as a moderator (b = -1.25, p = .15). The indirect
effect from experimental condition to spatial presence and then to INS at Time 2 was not
significant (95% CI [-.16, 1.60]). The indirect effect from experimental condition to body
transfer and then to INS at Time 2 was significant (95% CI [.001, 1.08]).
Finally, a PROCESS analysis (Model 4) was employed. The mediation model reported
that the greater the INS was at Time 1, the shorter the perceived temporal distance (b = -.46, p <
.01). Shorter temporal distance then led to greater issue involvement (b = -.26, p < .01). The
indirect effect from INS at Time 1 to temporal distance, and then to issue involvement was
significant (95% CI [.04, .22]). H5 was supported and the final model is presented in Figure 2.
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
20
Figure 2. Final Parallel Mediation Model.
Discussion
The results of Experiment 2 replicate and extend findings from Experiment 1: IVEs were
more effective than video in assisting individuals in their efforts to take the perspective of
animals. Both spatial presence and body transfer as a result of the virtual experience in an IVE
seemed to drive greater INS at Time 1. However, only body transfer continued to drive INS at
Time 2 implying the effect of spatial presence may dissipate over time. Individual trait
differences in feeling connected to nature did not moderate these mediation pathways. Moreover,
findings revealed that the heightened INS (Time 1) led to individuals perceiving that the
environmental risk of ocean acidification was imminent. The perceived imminence of risk then
triggered greater perceived involvement in the issue of ocean acidification.
Experiment 3
The third experiment tested the final parallel mediated model (H1-H5) in the context of
ocean acidification with a larger pool of participants for greater power and generalizability. This
experiment examined the ability of the HMD and video conditions to increase spatial presence
and body transfer without the haptic feedback used in the first two experiments, as this is how
people typically experience video and HMDs via commercial systems used outside of the
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
21
laboratory. For instance, Samsung’s Gear VR or Oculus Rift, allow for head orientation (i.e.,
looking around in the virtual world) but do not support virtual or physical touch (Smith, 2015).
Methods
Participants and Procedures
A sample was recruited from a large public university (N = 126, male n = 44).
Participants’ ages ranged from 18 to 37 years old (age M = 20.10, age SD = 2.29). The procedure
for Experiment 3 was similar to Experiment 2; some experienced the coral reef on a regular
computer screen (n = 42) and others experienced it through a HMD (n = 84)2, though participants
were not physically poked as they watched a fishing net poking their virtual coral body.
Measures
All measures were taken from Experiment 2. Immediately after experimental treatments,
spatial presence (Cronbach’s α = .95), body transfer (Cronbach’s α = .97), INS, temporal
distance, issue involvement (Cronbach’s α = .92), and connectedness with nature (Cronbach’s α
= .92) were measured. All items in Experiment 3 were measured with 7-point interval scales
(e.g., 1 = Not at all, 7 = Very much).
Results
H1 was again supported, as an independent samples t-test found that participants in the
IVE condition perceived significantly higher spatial presence (M = 4.93, SD = 1.45) than
participants in the video condition (M = 3.37, SD = 1.46), t(124) = 5.66, p < .01, d = 1.07 (95%
CI of difference [.75, 2.38]). H2 was also supported with an independent samples t-test finding
that participants in the IVE condition felt significantly greater body transfer (M = 3.88, SD =
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2!Participants(were(assigned(to(condition(based(on(the(day(they(came(to(the(lab(and(more(participants(arrived(on(
the$days$when$the$lab$was$setup$for$HMD$than$on$the$video$days.$However,$Levene’s$test$results$for$ensuing$
analyses'confirmed'equal'variances'across'conditions'so'the'imbalance'in'cells'is'not'discussed'further."
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
22
1.40) than participants in the video condition (M = 2.90, SD = 1.35), t(124) = 3.76, p < .01, d
= .72 (95% CI of difference [.21, 1.75]). H3 was not supported; an independent samples t-test
found no differences in INS between participants in the IVE condition (M = 3.70, SD = 1.71) and
those in the video condition (M = 3.19, SD = 1.60) was not significant, t(124) = 1.62, p = .11, d
= .31 (95% CI of difference [-.42, 1.44]).
Underlying Mechanisms - Parallel Mediation Analyses with Moderator
The PROCESS analysis (Model 5) was employed. Being in the IVE condition influenced
spatial presence (b = 1.55, p < .01) and body transfer (b = .98, p < .01). Only body transfer (b =
.50, p < .01) directly influenced INS. Connectedness with nature did not serve as a moderator (b
= .09, p = .79), but was significantly correlated with body transfer (r = .34, p < .01) and spatial
presence (r = .17, p = .05) The indirect effect from experimental condition to spatial presence
and then to INS was not significant (95% CI [-.41, .40]). The indirect effect from experimental
condition to body transfer and then to INS was significant (95% CI [.20, 1.01]). H4B was
supported but H4A was not. Next, a PROCESS analysis (Model 4) was employed. The
mediation model reported that the greater the INS was, the shorter the perceived temporal
distance (b = -.19, p < .01). Shorter temporal distance then led to greater issue involvement (b = -
.26, p < .01). The indirect effect from INS to temporal distance, and to issue involvement was
significant (95% CI [.01, .11]). H5 was supported.
General Discussion
Summary of Findings
Results were generally consistent with predictions. Experiment 1 (N = 49) found that
embodying the sensory-rich experience of an animal in an IVE led to greater perception of
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
23
spatial presence, body transfer, and INS. However, a parallel mediation model revealed that only
body transfer mediated the relationship between the IVE experience and INS.
Experiment 2 (N = 53) replicated these findings by showing that IVE experiences led to
greater spatial presence, body transfer, and INS. Immediately following experimental treatments,
both spatial presence and body transfer mediated the relationship between IVE experience and
INS. However, the mediating effects of spatial presence dissipate over time. One week following
experimental treatments, only body transfer drove the perception of INS. The parallel mediation
model was expanded to include the process of INS increasing the perceived imminence of the
environment risk, and the risk ultimately leading to increased issue involvement.
Experiment 3 (N = 126) tested the final parallel mediation model with a larger sample
and the HMD system without haptic feedback. IVE experiences led to greater spatial presence
and body transfer but did not affect INS. As in Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 (Time 2), only
body transfer mediated the relationship between experimental condition and INS, which led to an
increase in perceived imminence of risk and ultimately increased involvement in the issue of
ocean acidification, substantiating results from Experiment 2.
Theoretical Contributions and Practical Implications
Results across three experiments and 228 participants lend support to predictions that
IVEs can simulate perspective taking of an animal with digitally reproduced sensory information,
and the promise of these systems to promote a feeling of interconnectedness between nature and
the self. Embodied experiences in IVEs allowed users to share the animals’ experiences in a
more sensory-rich way than watching the video of the same experience. Because IVEs offer a
wider array of sensory information than video, allowing users to see, hear, and feel
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
24
environmental damage, participants perceived greater spatial presence and felt that their
experience as an animal were more genuine than watching a video of the same experience.
The studies reported here take the investigation of perspective taking to a new level by
allowing participants to go beyond imagining the perspective of the cow or coral. Participants
felt ownership of the virtual animal’s body and perceived a mental merging of the self and nature.
The current study is one of the first efforts to extend the applicability of the concept of self-other
merging outside interpersonal (including virtual humans) interactions. Earlier research has
demonstrated that applying IVEs in the context of interpersonal perspective taking elicits greater
self-other merging and helping behavior than using traditional means of perspective taking (Ahn
et al., 2013). The application of virtual experiences in IVEs may augment the findings of prior
studies that have relied on traditional means to ask participants to take the perspective of plants
and animals (e.g., Berenguer, 2007; Sevillano et al., 2007), and suggests body transfer should be
considered in future studies that explore the use of perspective-taking to induce environmental
attitudes and behaviors, particularly when using advanced digital technologies.
The results also contribute to the conceptual development of embodied experiences in
IVEs by suggesting insights into a preliminary model of underlying mechanisms and the change
in their effects over time. Although embodying the sensory-rich experience of animals in IVEs
led to both increased spatial presence and body transfer, only body transfer seemed to strongly
and consistently drive increased INS in all three experiments. Furthermore, the mediating effect
of body transfer persisted over time (Experiment 2). As a result of mediation by body transfer,
the direct effect of experimental condition on INS became nonsignificant. This demonstrates the
importance of the perception of body transfer in that although, on the surface, the mere exposure
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
25
to IVE experiences alone seems to be driving the feeling of INS, it is important that the
individual feels that he or she actually owns the body of the animal.
Experiments 2 and 3 expanded the parallel mediation model to demonstrate the power of
accelerating the progression of time during an embodied experience in IVEs. Echoing earlier
results (Ahn, 2015; Ahn et al., 2015), the acceleration of time in IVEs rendered the causal
relationship concrete by depicting present behavior and future consequences. As a result,
individuals were more likely to perceive the environmental risk to be imminent. The perceived
imminence increased involvement in the environmental issue at hand. Similarly, perceived
imminence of health risk has been shown to increase desired health behaviors (Ahn, 2015). We
did not measure behavior, but given earlier demonstrations of the link between issue involvement
and environmental behavior (Gregory & Di Leo, 2006), high issue involvement in the current
experiments is likely to lead to environmental behavior.
Our interpretation of the mediators remains cautious, as further research is necessary. A
growing body of literature has noted that mediation pathways, particularly in an experimental
context, may be difficult to establish in a single study (e.g., Bullock, Green, & Ha, 2010).
Despite support for the proposed mediators across three studies, particularly for the perception of
body transfer, there are inconsistencies in how these indirect effects manifest in the proposed
parallel mediation model. One explanation for these inconsistencies may be the variance in
sample sizes across the studies. For studies with relatively smaller samples, individual
differences could have yielded stronger variance on the manifestation of psychological mediators.
For instance, it may be that users vary in their motivations for engaging with the novel
affordances offered by IVEs and videos in different ways (Sundar & Limperos, 2013). Our
findings consistently demonstrate that it is the psychological perception of having shared an
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
26
animal’s experience (e.g., spatial presence, body transfer), rather than exposure to IVEs alone,
that drives feelings of interconnectedness with the nature. These results should be understood as
preliminary suggestions for considering the role of psychosocial variables in investigating the
effects of advanced digital technology on environmental attitude and behavior change.
On the surface, the variables of body transfer and INS may seem similar. However,
conceptual definitions delineate clear differences: body transfer refers to the perception of
physical ownership over another body, whereas INS is more related to the perception of the self
as an integral part of nature—a state of self-nature merging. Results imply that even when IVE
experiences elicit high spatial presence, INS is not influenced without increased perceptions of
body transfer between the individual and the target entity.
The findings demonstrate the importance of direct experiences in promoting
interconnectedness with nature and involvement with environmental issues. Earlier studies show
that even when individuals recognize an environmental problem as a serious issue, they fail to
feel responsible if they have not directly experienced the problem (Uzzell, 2000). On the other
hand, when individuals feel responsible for an environmental issue, they are likely to feel that the
problem is not serious. IVEs may be able to resolve this dilemma by emphasizing the seriousness
and imminence of the environmental risk while maintaining personal relevance of the risk
through palpable experiences of negative consequences.
Practically, the results from Experiment 3 emphasize the potential of using lower-
immersive virtual reality systems. Participants in the IVE condition felt higher body transfer than
those in the video condition, even without incorporating the haptics used in the other two studies.
This suggests that controlling only the visual aspect of the virtual experience provided sufficient
sensory information for users to feel ownership of their avatars to perceive body transfer. This
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
27
introduces a novel mode of communicating and learning about environmental risk. The concept
of learning through direct experiences is not new—students participate in field trips and on-the-
job training is an effective form of preparing new employees. IVEs extend the applicability of
learning through direct experiences to environmental risks that are too serious to allow personal
experiences. As the industry continues to develop accessible and affordable IVE systems,
embodied experiences in IVEs may be used in tandem with traditional education materials to
allow individuals to augment their learning processes through vivid and palpable experiences,
reducing the challenge of literacy or language barriers to effective learning.
Limitations and Future Directions
Although the results across three experiments yielded encouraging patterns of findings,
several qualifications warrant future research. First, readers should take into consideration when
interpreting these results that the effect sizes reported are small to moderate. Although small to
moderate effect sizes may have substantial accumulated effects across large populations, it
implies that a single exposure to IVE experiences may not lead to powerful changes to an
individual’s environmental involvement. It should also be noted that IVE experiences effect did
not demonstrate meaningful differences from video experiences on all of the measured variables.
Furthermore, the current experiments studied student samples of limited
representativeness. College students spend considerable amounts of time with digital media,
which may make the effects of IVEs different for this demographic. College students may also
be more sensitized to environmental issues than other groups. Future studies should investigate
effects of embodied experiences in IVEs across a wider range of populations and with a larger
sample for greater generalizability of results. Also, although the individual difference in
connectedness with nature was not a significant moderator in the current experiments, this trait
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
28
was significantly correlated with body transfer and spatial presence. Individuals with the trait of
being connected with nature may be more likely to feel present in IVEs and experience body
transfer. Earlier research demonstrates that individuals have inherent trait differences in
perspective taking abilities (Davis, 1996). Prior research also suggests that the sensory rich
experience of embodiment in IVEs may offer greater assistance to individuals with lower trait
ability for perspective taking (Ahn et al., 2013). Future research should explore the possibility of
using IVEs to encourage all, even those with lower perspective taking abilities, to view
environmental problems from the viewpoint of nature rather than of humans.
Finally, the three studies deal with two animals that may be perceived in very different
ways—cows and coral. In fact, some people might not even recognize coral as an animal, which
might influence their schema construction during the IVE experience. For instance, coral may be
considered inanimate, and participants may have controlled the two avatars differently, despite
being given similar capacities for movement in the IVE. Future studies should further investigate
the relationship between existing schema of the perspective-taking target and how it impacts
embodied experiences in IVEs.
Conclusion
These experiments demonstrate the promise of using digital media technology to provide
direct experiences that meaningfully engage individuals with environmental issues. However, it
seems that technology alone is not sufficient to induce the sense that nature is part of the self and
involvement with nature. Psychological variables that promote feelings of having genuinely
shared an animal’s experience seem to drive feelings of interconnection and involvement with
nature. As Schultz (2000) argues, “We can be interconnected with other people, or more
generally, we can be interconnected with all living things” (p. 394). Through three experiments,
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
29
we demonstrate the potential of embodied experiences within IVEs to facilitate the formation of
such connections between humans and non-human entities.
EMBODYING ANIMALS IN IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
30
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... Users can visit areas of the world that are far or not accessible to them, like oceans or tropical forests [146,151]. Users may also impersonate animals suffering from climate change consequences, enhancing awareness by creating empathy [16]. Similar experiences have been used to make people witness dramatic situations of other humans (e.g., immersive technologies, similarly to the case study proposed by [16]. ...
... Users may also impersonate animals suffering from climate change consequences, enhancing awareness by creating empathy [16]. Similar experiences have been used to make people witness dramatic situations of other humans (e.g., immersive technologies, similarly to the case study proposed by [16]. ...
... VR experiences allow visualizing the impact of human behavior and decisions on ecosystems and societies, including transformations happening in remote world areas and future times. This includes applications on themes like climate change [65,160], environmental degradation [16], conflicts and refugees conditions [82,185]. VR can also be a tool to study and experiment with how these problems can be faced and solved. ...
Thesis
Sustainable development is nowadays a major concern, requiring to reach a series of urgent environmental, social, and economic targets. To achieve them, technical and legislative interventions are not sufficient: there is a need for individual, collective, and systemic change rooted in human behavior. As consumers, communities, in our institutional and professional roles, we all contribute to sustainability-related issues, and we should participate in their resolution. In this situation, the role of design and engineering disciplines and practitioners is becoming increasingly important. By developing artefacts, interfaces, and environments, designers and engineers shape the contexts where people take actions and make decisions and inevitably affect users’ behavior. Ultimately, this can have a great impact on resources’ consumption, conservation, and distribution. Hence, it implies great responsibility and power, as acknowledged by the field of Design for Sustainable Behavior (DfSB).However, the study of human behavior is not a typical subject in technical fields and education. DfSB researchers have accomplished a great effort to take this knowledge from psychology to design and engineering, leading to the creation of a variety of design tools. Nevertheless, the integration of DfSB approaches in the industries is not immediate and trivial. Designing for behavior change merges two extremely complex subjects: human behavior and product development. The former is hard to define, including deliberate choices and habits that we mindlessly replicate, both affected by several variables and difficult to predict. The latter includes a set of tasks, stages, specific technical and legislative standards, it is influenced by the market, and conducted under time pressure. Involving sustainability objectives in the equation makes it even more challenging, implying multiple interrelated social, environmental, and economic problems. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR) can support designers, researchers, and organizations facing this complexity. AR adds information and stimuli into existing contexts, including environments and artifacts. It is a tool to directly affect users’ interaction with their surroundings, their actions, and choices, with an impact on the environment and society. VR allows creating new hypothetical scenarios, replicating and manipulating present and future ones. It is a tool to create awareness and make people experience possible, desired, or undesirable situations, related to sustainability issues. Both these technologies have a great potential to affect human behavior. Moreover, they both can support a variety of product development activities, from concept design to testing and validation of new solutions, improving decision-making processes and collaboration. This thesis regards the development of methodologies for designers to support sustainable behavior through AR and VR, contributing to enabling change in design and companies’ practices, as well as in users and society.
... If they were unable to complete the task, an option was given to indicate this. Upon completion of the self-guided session, they filled out a short-form user engagement questionnaire [43] with an additional question on virtual presence, as modified from [49] (Appendix B). ...
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... Less research has been conducted in the context of environmental communication (4.6%) or risk communication (3.7%). In these communication disciplines, researchers have employed immersive media forms, such as 360°videos, to increase pro-environmental attitudes or the perceived severity of natural disasters (Ahn et al., 2016;Fraustion et al., 2018). ...
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This study examined the impact of news modality (print news vs. 360° journalism) on psychological mechanisms of information seeking intention, as well as individual differences that moderate the observed outcomes. The results of a two condition between-subjects experiment (N = 100) conducted on a community sample showed that news modality affected information seeking intentions, enjoyment of news story, and the feelings of spatial presence, but did not affect actual information seeking behavior and information recall. Exposure to 360° journalism led to the increase in spatial presence, which led to a linear increase in enjoyment, ultimately resulting in greater intentions to seek further information. Participants with a higher need for cognitive closure enjoyed consuming news more when the story was presented as 360° journalism than those with a lower need for cognitive closure. Results contribute to expanding the theories of information seeking and the role of affective responses and spatial presence on news consumption in journalism and communication scholarship.
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Book
Ob Hund oder Amöbe, Algorithmus oder künstliches Haustier, ob virtuell oder materialisiert, ob wahrnehmbar oder im Hintergrund – der Mensch ist nicht allein. Er teilt die Welt mit Entitäten und Wesenheiten auf eine Weise, die in ihrer Vielfältigkeit kaum abzusehen ist. Nur eines ist dabei schon jetzt klar: Die Modalitäten des Zusammenlebens in multispecies societies fügen sich nicht mehr den gewohnten Vorstellungen von Subjekt und Objekt, von innen und außen, von Herr- und Knechtschaft, von Rationalität und Gefühl. Vielmehr bricht sich die Erkenntnis Bahn, dass der Mensch auf andere Arten angewiesen ist. Und er tut gut daran, neue Formen der Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse einzugehen, ohne bloß den Träumen von Enhancement zu verfallen. Allein durch Gesten der Reduktion, wie Stefan Rieger zeigt, wird eine umfassendere Teilhabe ermöglicht. Und nur in Form veränderter Kooperationen und Kollaborationen, in Anerkennung anderer Handlungsmächte und einer Ethik, die nicht ausschließlich den Menschen im Blick hat, ist eine angemessene Reaktion auf die neue Welt von Menschen und Nicht-Menschen zu finden.
Chapter
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This book compiles the research conducted by the author during the years 2019-2022. The objective of this book is to present the results of a study related to educational innovation from different aspects. The reasons for writing this scientific work originate from the interest to contribute to knowledge in the area of educational research. Teachers, administrators, and academic researchers can use the methodologies and results to support educational innovation.
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The study of spatial presence is currently receiving increased attention in both media psychology and communication research. The present paper introduces the Spatial Presence Experience Scale (SPES), a short eight-item self-report measure. The SPES is derived from a process model of spatial presence (Wirth et al., 2007, Media Psychology, 9, 493–525), and assesses spatial presence as a two-dimensional construct that comprises a user’s self-location and perceived possible actions in a media environment. The SPES is shorter than many other available spatial presence scales, and can be conveniently applied to diverse media settings. Two studies are reported (N1 = 290, N2 = 395) that confirm sound psychometric qualities for the SPES.
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In virtual environments (VEs), users experience visceral simulations that feel like the real world. Virtual experiences are proposed as a novel operationalization of gain and loss framed environmental messages. A 2 (gain vs. loss frame) × 2 (high vs. low interactivity) × 3 (pretest, posttest, delayed posttest) experiment was conducted. Immediately following exposure, virtual experiences promoted environmental behavior by reducing paper consumption by 25% compared to a control group. In addition, the gain framed experience of growing a virtual tree promoted behavioral intentions more effectively than the loss framed experience of cutting down a tree. Response efficacy mediated the relationship between framing and environmental behavioral intentions. One week after exposure, response efficacy heightened as a result of the gain frame. Participants in the high interactivity conditions also reported higher levels of environmental behavior than those in the low interactivity conditions one week following exposure.
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In immersive virtual environments (IVEs), users may observe negative consequences of a risky health behavior in a personally involving way via digital simulations. In the context of an ongoing health promotion campaign, IVEs coupled with pamphlets are proposed as a novel messaging strategy to heighten personal relevance and involvement with the issue of soft-drink consumption and obesity, as well as perceptions that the risk is proximal and imminent. The framework of construal level theory guided the design of a 2 (tailoring: other vs. self) × 2 (medium: pamphlet only vs. pamphlet with IVEs) between-subjects experiment to test the efficacy in reducing the consumption of soft drinks over 1 week. Immediately following exposure, tailoring the message to the self (vs. other) seemed to be effective in reducing intentions to consume soft drinks. The effect of tailoring dissipated after 1 week, and measures of actual soft-drink consumption 1 week following experimental treatments demonstrated that coupling IVEs with the pamphlet was more effective. Behavioral intention was a significant predictor of actual behavior, but underlying mechanisms driving intentions and actual behavior were distinct. Results prescribed a messaging strategy that incorporates both tailoring and coupling IVEs with traditional media to increase behavioral changes over time.
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Presents an integrative theoretical framework to explain and to predict psychological changes achieved by different modes of treatment. This theory states that psychological procedures, whatever their form, alter the level and strength of self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior. In the proposed model, expectations of personal efficacy are derived from 4 principal sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states. Factors influencing the cognitive processing of efficacy information arise from enactive, vicarious, exhortative, and emotive sources. The differential power of diverse therapeutic procedures is analyzed in terms of the postulated cognitive mechanism of operation. Findings are reported from microanalyses of enactive, vicarious, and emotive modes of treatment that support the hypothesized relationship between perceived self-efficacy and behavioral changes. (21/2 p ref)
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This article responds to recent calls for conceptual and methodological refinement, issued by uses-and-gratifications scholars (Rubin, 200944. Rubin , A. M. 2009. “The uses-and-gratifications perspective on media effects.”. In Media effects: Advances in theory and research , 3rd ed. Edited by: Bryant , J. and Oliver , M. B. 165–184. New York, NY: Routledge.. View all references; Ruggiero, 200046. Ruggiero , T. E. 2000. Uses and gratifications theory in the 21st century. Mass Communication & Society, 3: 3–37. doi: 10.1207/S15327825MCS0301_02 [Taylor & Francis Online], [CSA]View all references), for studying emergent media. Noting that studies on the uses of the Internet have generated a list of gratifications that are remarkably similar to those obtained from older media, it identifies two measurement artifacts—(1) measures designed for older media are used to capture gratifications from newer media; and (2) gratifications are conceptualized and operationalized too broadly (e.g., information-seeking), thus missing the nuanced gratifications obtained from newer media. It challenges the notion that all gratifications are borne out of innate needs, and proposes that affordances of media technology can shape user needs, giving rise to new and distinctive gratifications. A sample of new gratifications and potential measures for those are provided.
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