In search of the fixed points on the presence scale

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We may learn more about what it means to be present in a mediated or virtual environment through our attempts at measuring it as through experimentation and philosophical reflection. This requires however that we take a more fundamental stance to measurement. Taking the definition of presence as the perceptual illusion of non-mediation as our starting point, the possibility of different levels of presence — states in between being present fully in either the real or the virtual environment — will be discussed based on an embodied framework. In this framework different intermediate states of presence are based on the extent to which the automatic body schema procedures have fallen for the illusion of non-mediation; are treating the simulated content as if it were real. Measuring presence then involves considering the whole of the organism when observing its response to the virtual content: not only people’s self-reported experiences and volatile behaviors, but automatic behaviors and environmentally induced visceral responses as well. Correlational approaches to combine these observations into a presence measure will not only be unsuccessful, they are also misdirected. Instead, we must search for a set of responses that are transitively ordered in a manner that is the same for all individuals. The discovery of such an invariant and transitive order will be similar to establishing the fixed points on the temperature scale. The promise is the objective assessment of presence, and an understanding of what it means to be present without having to revert to operationalism or latent variable theorists’ doctrines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Society for Presence Research (ISPR 2014)
EditorsA. Felnhofer, O.D. Kothgassner
Place of PublicationVienna
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978-3-7089-1081-9
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventISPR 2014 : 15th International Workshop on Presence (PRESENCE 2014), March 17-19, 2014, Vienna, Austria - University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 17 Mar 201419 Mar 2014


ConferenceISPR 2014 : 15th International Workshop on Presence (PRESENCE 2014), March 17-19, 2014, Vienna, Austria


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