Perception and Emotion in Virtual Reality: The Role of the Body and the Contribution of Presence - PhDData

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Perception and Emotion in Virtual Reality: The Role of the Body and the Contribution of Presence

The thesis was published by Weber, Stefan, in September 2022, University of Bern.


This thesis reports four studies in the context of virtual reality (VR), feelings of presence, emotion, and perception. Previous research established the existence of cross-dimensional perceptual interrelations such as the interconnection between experienced motion and subjective time. This is thought to result from a common perceptual system. However, the specifics of this system are a matter of ongoing research. An important binding factor between perceptual dimensions is the bodily self, which was described as a reference for perception. In Study I, manipulations of the size of a virtual self-representation were shown to affect the spatial judgment of objects. In Study II, the degree of self-motion in an immersive virtual environment (IVE) influenced the subjective perception of time, corroborating previous findings about the common perceptual system. Besides the virtual self-representation, there is another important variable in VR experiments: Presence is described as the feeling of being in a mediated environment. Presence was not associated with improved performance in the spatial and temporal judgments of Studies I and II. However, in Study III, presence in a gaming activity was linked to improved mood after an experimental stress-induction. This especially applied to VR gaming, where impressions about the subjective realism of the IVE might have been crucial for mood repair. As outlined in Study IV, it is important to distinguish between presence as an attentional allocation to the mediated world and as an individual judgment about its realism. Taken together, the results from all studies corroborate the idea of the self as a fundamental perceptual reference, confirm results about the psychological connection between space and time, emphasize the benefits of VR gaming in improving mood, and elucidate the role of perceived realism in assessing presence in IVEs.

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