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Journal Article

Virtual Reality as a Research Tool (In Press)


This chapter provides an overview of the research possibilities of studying social cognition and communication using virtual environments. We begin by giving an overview of the related technology, specifically the hardware and software used to develop and support virtual reality (VR) experiences. Then, we review and contextualize three methodological problems of experimental social psychology outlined by Blascovich and colleagues in 2002, namely the experimental control-mundane realism trade-off, lack of replication, and the use of nonrepresentative samples, and specifically focus on how VR can mitigate the three problems. We next give examples of research topics social scientists have studied using the framework provided by Fox and colleagues’ 2009 work. We then lay out the current landscape of large-scale virtual reality studies with a review of 34 studies, focusing on their setting, recruitment methods and implementations of the VR experiences. Finally, we discuss implications for future research.

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Portia Wang
Jeremy N. Bailenson
Journal Name
Reimer, L. van Swol., & A. Florack (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Communication and Social Cognition
Publication Date
Routledge/Taylor and Francis, New York, NY