UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of immersion and increased cognitive load on time estimation in a virtual reality environment Ghomi, Mehrdad


The perceived duration of a time interval can seem shorter or longer relative to real time (i.e., solar time or clock time) depending on what fills that time interval. Research has suggested that increased immersion alters a users ability to reproduce a given duration whilst doing a simple task or playing a game in an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE). Virtual Reality (VR) allows users to experience virtual environments similar to the real world. The contribution of this experimental research is to explore the effects of undertaking a cognitive spatial task and immersion within a VR environment on a persons perception of time. A VR experience using a cognitive task (maze navigation) was compared with a non VR (control) experience of the same task to explore if the effects exist and if the effects are more significant in an IVE compared to a screen-based simple multimedia experience. Also, a VR experience of the environment without any task was compared to the same environment with the cognitive task to establish the effect of a spatial cognitive task on temporal perception. More specifically, this study measured how much temporal distortion is achievable utilizing cognitive tasks in a VR experience. In this thesis the use of cognitive tasks and VR are the independent variables and the perceived duration of the experiment (time) is the dependent variable. Obtained data suggest that being immersed in a VR experience results in 16.10% underestimation of time, while a non-VR experience results in 7.5% overestimation of time. Moreover, navigating mazes that involve a high cognitive load results in 6.45% underestimation of time. Finally, the combination of VR and high cognitive load (navigating the mazes without guiding lines in a VR experience) result in 22.18% underestimation of time. Finally, the implications of this research are discussed at the end of this thesis.

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