Séamas Weech, Sophie Kenny, and Michael Barnett-Cowan Published in Frontiers in Psychology

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Games Institute members from the Multisensory Brain and Cognition (MBC) Lab, Séamas Weech, Sophie Kenny, and Michael Barnett-Cowan, have co-authored a new paper entitled, "Presence and Cybersickness in Virtual Reality Are Negatively Related: A Review".

The paper was published in a special issue of Frontiers in Psychology in February 2019, "The Impact of Virtual and Augmented Reality on Individuals and Society", and reviews previous studies on presence and cybersickness in VR and proposes recommendations for future research.

According to the authors, presence is often described as "the observer’s sense of psychologically leaving their real location and feeling as if transported to a virtual environment", or simply the sense of "being there". Cybersickness is "a constellation of symptoms of discomfort and malaise produced by VR exposure".

The authors point out that, while both of these factors are usually measured using self-reports about the subjective experience, research often uses similar physiological markers to measure each, like heart rate, breathing, and sweating.

Weech, Kenny, and Barnett-Cowan highlight specific studies that examine how presence and cybersickness relate to one another. The existing research shows that there's evidence of a relationship, but the strength and direction is still debated.

In the review, the authors argue that the evidence suggests that presence and cybersickness are negatively related, meaning that people reporting a higher sense of "being there" in a VR application are less likely to experience motion sickness.

More studies need to be done in order to fill in the gaps and gain a better understanding of how presence and cybersickness causally influence each other. Weech, Kenny, and Barnett-Cowan conclude the review with recommendations for future studies, including those that consider how other variables, such as sex and gaming experience, affect the relationship.

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