Progression in cognitive-affective research by increasing ecological validity: A series of Virtual Reality studies.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Open Access logo originally created by the Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Title: Progression in cognitive-affective research by increasing ecological validity: A series of Virtual Reality studies.
Authors: Kisker, Joanna
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Thomas Gruber
Thesis referee: Apl. Prof. Dr. Kai-Christoph Hamborg
Abstract: The ultimate aim of psychological research is to disentangle everyday human functioning. Achieving this goal has always been limited by the necessity of balancing experimental control and ecological validity. Recent technical advances, however, reduce this trade-off immensely, perhaps even rendering it void: Sophisticated virtual reality (VR) systems provide not only high experimental control but also multidimensional and realistic stimuli, tasks, and experimental setups. Yet prior to applying VR as a standalone experimental method, an empirical foundation for its application needs to be established. To this end, this dissertation aims to shed light on whether and which changes in cognitive-affective standard findings result from increasing the ecological validity by means of VR paradigms. The four empirical studies included in this dissertation focus either on the affective or mnemonic processes and mechanisms occurring under immersive VR conditions compared to conventional laboratory setups. Study 1.1 investigated whether the electrophysiological correlates of the approach/avoidance dimension differ depending on the mode of presentation, i.e., immersive VR footage or a virtual 2D desktop. Study 2 was extended by a behavioral component. Full-body responses were enabled within this paradigm to examine holistic fear responses and to put to the test whether the respective electrophysiological responses translate from keystrokes to natural responses. With respect to the retrieval of such immersive experiences, Study 1.2 aimed to replicate the memory superiority effect found for VR conditions compared to conventional conditions. The generalizability of this effect will be examined using complex, multimodal scenes. Going one step further, Study 3 differentiated the retrieval mechanisms underlying VR-based or conventional laboratory engrams on the electrophysiological level. The well-established theta old/new effect served as a benchmark to check whether cognitive processes obtained under conventional conditions translate to VR conditions. The results of these studies are discussed with respect to whether and how increasing ecological validity alters the standard findings expected on the basis of the previous research background. Special attention will be paid to the differences between conventional laboratory setups and sophisticated VR setups with the aim to identify possible sources of the obtained deviations from standard findings. Such changes in the findings that overlap and exceed all studies beyond their primary focus, whether emotional or mnemonic, are discussed in terms of embodied simulations and the predictive coding hypothesis. A shared mental 3D default space is proposed as a possible source of fundamental differences between conventional and VR-based research outcomes. In particular, it will be demonstrated that conventional research approaches and findings may not only be amplified but fundamentally altered when translated to VR paradigms.
Subject Keywords: Virtual Reality; Experimental Psychology; Cognitive-Affective Processes; Ecological Validity
Issue Date: 18-Feb-2022
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
thesis_kisker.pdfPräsentationsformat14,25 MBAdobe PDF

Items in osnaDocs repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.