Affective Embodiment

Can physical manifestations of emotions, such as open and closed body posture, affect how we perceive ourselves? In this study, we are interested in exploring the notion that affect can be influenced by the perceived display of emotions in one’s own virtual avatar. More specifically that one’s gait and body posture contains emotional information, which is then used to determine one’s own affect, working as a feedback loop for processing one’s emotions.

Project members: Swati Pandita, Jane Kim, Jessie Yee, and Dr. Andrea S. Won.

Avatar Creation in Social Experiences

From Bitmoji to gaming characters, everyone has an avatar these days…but does everyone feel represented in their avatar creation process? What are the hidden norms and values that users engage in when they are creating their avatars? And how does this affect how people are ultimately represented and how well they relate to their avatar? In this study, I interview racial minorities on their avatar creation experiences on virtual reality character creation platforms to see how underrepresented users fit into seemingly pre-determined identity molds.

Project members: Swati Pandita, Dr. Lee Humphreys, and Dr. Andrea S. Won.

Previous Projects

Learning Moon Phases in Virtual Reality 

Moon phases are a tricky concept for astronomy students to master due to difficulties in visualizing the changes in phase as a part of the sun-moon-earth system. Virtual reality allows students to control and interact with the moon phases by providing multiple perspectives of the moon phases as it relates to the position of the earth and sun. In this study we compared the learning outcomes of students who participated in a virtual reality guided moon phases learning activity, a desktop guided activity, and the traditional hands-on (ball and stick model) activity. Upon initial data review, there are no differences in the three learning activities, however participants indicated a need for embodiment, thus we are also interested in studying the effects of embodiment on learning outcomes.

Project members: Dr. Andrea S. Won, Dr. Natasha G. Holmes, Dr. Jonathon Schuldt, Jack Madden, Byungdoo Kim, Swati Pandita, Yilu Sun, and Tristan Stone.

Social Presence and Perception 

Is our pain threshold affected by the perceived social presence of others? Social presence is the “sense of being with another” through physical or digital space. In this study we place individuals in a digital recreation of our lab space and a foreign lab space as they chat with a conversational partner while undergoing a pain task. Another question this study serves to answer is if social presence in virtual reality differs from social presence in the context of instant messaging or other computer mediated communicative (CMC) modalities.

Project members: Dr. Andrea S. Won, Byungdoo Kim, Swati Pandita, and Kaylee Kruzan