In this line of studies, we are examining a concept first developed by Jaron Lanier called "homuncular flexibility" – the ability to learn to control novel avatars in interactive tasks. For example, in order to reach further in virtual space, can users learn to control avatar bodies with extra limbs? This line of research looks at whether the way these avatar bodies look, and the way they are controlled, affects task success, liking and the sense of presence. We also seek to find out how moving one’s physical body while immersed in VR contributes to sense of presence, increased immersion, or increased learning, especially as it relates to our environmental research.
In previous work, in collaboration with Jaron Lanier, we have examined conditions in which people learn to remap degrees of freedom onto digital space, including the amount of time it takes to form a mental representation of the remapping, the ability to add limbs, and the nature of learning tasks that facilitate being able to use remapped information. In a previous study developed with Dr. Robin Rosenberg, we examined the psychological consequences of flying.