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Virtual realities (VRs), also known as virtual environments, have been used to simulate physical presence in real environments (i.e., simulations for pilot training) as well as imaginary places (i.e., videogames). Mostly constructed as visual experiences, innovations in VR technologies now include additional sensory information, such as sound and touch, and have allowed for collaborations across diverse fields, including skills training, ergonomics, therapeutic programs, perception and cognitive psychology. Virtual realities in a therapeutic role have been applied to numerous forms of exposure therapy to address phobias such as claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and acrophobia (fear of heights), as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders. Virtual reality methodology has also been used in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physical rehabilitation. Moreover, research has been comprehensive in addressing the participant's perceptual reaction to the VR environment and has addressed the effect of the quality of the graphics of the VR environment on judging spatial egocentric distances (i.e., distances between the participant's virtual self and objects in the VR environment) and exocentric distances (i.e., distances between various objects in the VR environment). For example, participants in head-mounted-display-(HMD-)based immersive VR environments consistently underestimated egocentric distances walked to previously viewed targets in both low- and high-quality VR environments compared to estimates done in real-world environments. Interestingly, participants were more accurate in verbally reporting the distances in high-quality VR environments (Kunz et al., 2009). This dissociation between magnitude estimates of target distance and action-based indicators of perceived distance (i.e., walking to previously-viewed objects) will be further explored in the present research by using other kinds of distance estimates and judgments of egocentric distances, as well as exocentric distances. This research has implications in the use of distance perception strategies in the context of VR environments.

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Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Benjamin R. Kunz

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

The Effect of Graphic Quality in Virtual Environments on the Perception of Egocentric and Exocentric Distances