Date of Award

5-2020

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Alen Hajnal, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

Space perception in virtual reality (VR) is distorted. Does action in conjunction with an avatar's presence improve perception in VR? Participants judged whether a virtual ball was within reach. Condition 1 was perception-only, where the participant was not allowed to move nor could see their arms. Condition 2 was perception with nonvisible action, where the participant could move their real arm to reach but could not see an avatar representation of the arm. Condition 3 was perception with visible action, where the participant could move and see a virtual hand that corresponded to the actual arm movement. Participants overestimated their own reach by about 15% in the avatar condition and the proprioceptive condition. The perception-only condition was the most accurate (only 5% overestimation). Response times were comparable for distances within reach but got longer in Conditions 2 and 3 when the ball was out of reach. The affordance responses (‘yes’ or ‘no’) did not correlate with response time, postural instability, nor with the head leaning forward. Instead, affordance responses mapped onto the mean magnitude of head movements. Specifically, complexity measured by effort-to-compress (ETC), which was lowest at the action boundary in the avatar condition, may helped to differentiate between experimental conditions. Our results point to the lack of expected haptic feedback as a critical variable, and the utility of complex exploration that may have contributed to the difference between the avatar and the perception-only condition.

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