Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Ways to measure spatial presence: A method comparison

Method Comparison:
To improve the methodological grounds of Presence research and to serve the Presence community by providing insights into both common and innovative instruments of Presence measurement, the MEC research program aimed at a systematic comparison of different methods and methodologies. Findings from this comparison are considered to advance fundamental and applied Presence research substantially by
- Inspiring reflections on the dependence of research results on different methods under use,

- Deriving suggestions for adequate methods selection for different research questions, media stimuli, and study participants (concerning, for instance, reliability, validity, robustness, and cost-effectiveness),

- Collecting practical knowledge on how to apply common and (potentially) future ways to assess Presence effectively and successfully,

- Obtaining multi-method findings from a variety of Presence-inducing media that may convey some insights into the nature of Presence experiences (that is, moving beyond actual questions of Presence measurement).

To fulfil this methodological goal, MEC has pursued a systematic experimental cross-media research program that aimed at controlling as many factors external to measurement questions. Experts for the application of highly different methods joined in order to meet the challenge to create an integrative view of different measures and to work out a catalogue of criteria for a most productive, informing and useful comparison of approaches.

The research program they have established is the first of its kind in Presence research. Measurements involved include a (1) questionnaire [1096 subjects], (2) think-aloud method [122 subjects], (3) eye-tracking [150 subjects], (4) cardiac measures [22 subjects], (5) secondary task reaction time measure [126 subjects], (6) and fmri [10 subjects]. Overall, more than 1000 subjects took part in the experiments underlying the method comparison. On more than 160 pages a detailed report shows the pros and cons of the different measures applied, including a discussion of their costs, reliability, validity and other criteria.

One of the most important measures of Presence is the questionnaire. Different instruments have been introduced; however, they are based on different and partly implicit theoretical assumptions. The MEC model of Spatial Presence has been proposed as a theoretical framework for the unification and simplification of the existing Presence research. It has been used to develop a standardized questionnaire for the measurement of Spatial Presence (MEC-SPQ) that covers the different concepts that are addressed by the model. Pretest studies were conducted to develop the scales of the MEC-SPQ. Altogether, 290 students from three different countries (U.S., Portugal, Finland) took part in the investigations, four different media (linear text, hypertext, film, virtual environment) were tested. Additionally, a dual-task paradigm was implemented to validate the validity/sensitivity of the scales. Item analysis following statistical and conceptual considerations was conducted in order to create a final version of the MEC-SPQ, which is applicable in further MEC studies and general Presence research. The data allowed creating a highly consistent and homogeneous scale version for most constructs. All Presence scales were sensitive for the dual-task-procedure, and different types of media. Inter-scale-correlations reflected theoretical assumptions of the MEC model of Spatial Presence.

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Hannover University of Music and Drama
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