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authors Takatalo, Jari
year 2002
title Presence and Flow in Virtual Environments: An Explorative Study
source University of Helsinki
summary Virtual environments (VEs) are thought to elicit a sense of presence to the user. The sense of presence is considered as a psychological experience of being in a world generated by the computer instead of using the computer from the outside. As a field of research the psychology of VE is quite new and not well explored. In this study the three components of the sense of presence are examined: spatial awareness, attention and the realness of the VE. The three components solution of presence is accused of following Cartesian tradition in separating perception from action. Interaction is considered an important part of the experience of presence. Some authors consider it as the only determinant of presence. The purpose of this study was to explore empirically this human experience. The idea was to integrate the presented presence components into a cognitive-emotional appraisal process from the environment. This type of an appraisal process in generating emotions dominates the field of modern psychological emotion theories. It has also been presented that similar appraisal process precedes optimal experience, i.e., flow. Flow has been used as a metrics to evaluate human computer interaction. However, there are only few studies in which both presence and flow has been measured. In this study the participants gained experiences while conducting a simple search task in a virtual CAVEtm. These experiences were measured with a questionnaire. Based on the results a three-dimensional framework was constructed. This framework integrated the experience of presence and interaction as well as an appraisal process from the environment based on one’s skills and challenges provided by the environment. In the appraisal process also personal relevance and evaluation of the interactivity of the VE are included. Framework also included two basic emotional dimensions arousal and control, which are considered important in producing the overall emotional experience. The framework was used to explain different endpoint experiences gained by the users. The results showed that the sense of presence is an integral part of the flow experience in VEs and in order to experience VE positively a user should experience both presence and flow in VE. Although, the framework needs more careful studying, it provides a fair depiction of the basic dynamics behind a subjective experience in VE.
series thesis:MSc
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