Media presence and inner presence: The sense of presence in virtual reality technologies

In [Book Chapter] (2006)
Abstract. Presence is widely accepted as the key concept to be considered in any research involving human interaction with Virtual Reality (VR). Since its original description, the concept of presence has developed over the past decade to be considered by many researchers as the essence of any experience in a virtual environment. The VR generating systems comprise two main parts: a technological component and a psychological experience. The different relevance given to them produced two different but coexisting visions of presence: the rationalist and the psychological/ecological points of view. The rationalist point of view considers a VR system as a collection of specific machines with the necessity of the inclusion of the concept of presence. The researchers agreeing with this approach describe the sense of presence as a function of the experience of a given medium (Media Presence). The main result of this approach is the definition of presence as the perceptual illusion of non-mediation produced by means of the disappearance of the medium from the conscious attention of the subject. At the other extreme, there is the psychological or ecological perspective (Inner Presence). Specifically, this perspective considers presence as a neuropsychological phenomenon, evolved from the interplay of our biological and cultural inheritance, whose goal is the control of the human activity. Given its key role and the rate at which new approaches to understanding and examining presence are appearing, this chapter draws together current research on presence to provide an up to date overview of the most widely accepted approaches to its understanding and measurement.
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