Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

D. Alexander Varakin

Second Advisor

Adam L. Lawson

Third Advisor

Catherine A. Clement

Abstract

Immersion describes the extent of which one feels involved in a virtual experience. In immersive environments, observers report high levels of sensory interaction, story engagement, and an impression of reality. According to the concept of Inattentional Blindness (IB), many people can miss an unexpected stimulus or object even if it is in their field of vision while attending to a task. Can immersion affect susceptibility to IB, and can it affect memory performance? To answer this question, two model theaters were used in order to manipulate a person's assessment of being immersed in two experiments. A realistic condition used a model of a movie theater complete with curtains, seats, wallpaper, working wall sconces, and patrons. A haphazard condition (control) used a model of the same size, but materials were used in a way that does not resemble a movie theater. Both conditions used an IB paradigm apparatus housed beneath the stage area that moved an unexpected stimulus (movie patron or bolt) in front of a movie screen. Upon completion of a movie clip, participants were first asked if they noticed the unexpected object, and to describe what they noticed. Immersion was then measured using Jennett et al.'s (2008; International Journal of Human Computer Studies) questionnaire, and memory was assessed with a 10-question multiple-choice test about the movie clip. Results did not show a clear relationship between immersion and IB. Differences between groups were marginal for immersion, IB, and memory.

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