Measuring the user’s subjective experiences during interacting in virtual worlds turned out to be difficult. On the one hand, it seems to be obvious to use self-report questionnaires to assess subjective experiences, such as enjoyment, engagement or the “sense of being there” otherwise known as “presence”. After or during exposure to the computer mediated world, the users have to rate the strength of their subjective experience in the virtual world on rating scales or they have to answer questions such as “Did you feel as if you were inside the virtual environment?”, “How involved were you in the virtual environment experience?”, or “Please rate your sense of being in the environment, on the following scale from 1 to 7, where 7 represents your normal experience of being in a place.” Although self-report questionnaires have high face validity and are easy to use, they are associated with some problems. For instance, participants report that it is hard to rate the strength of these experiences and consequently they have to guess or the researcher has to explain the terms in more detail. Both solutions can influence the user’s responses. Furthermore, there is empirical evidence that subjective questionnaires are unstable, because their results can be influenced by prior experiences with computer generated environments. Hence, there is a need to find new and objective ways to measure such subjective game experiences. In a paper that was recently published, we tried to examine such an objective method to measure the subjective presence experience in virtual reality (VR). We used event-related brain potentials (ERP) of the electroencephalogram (EEG) elicited by tones, which were not related to VR, as an objective indicator for the presence experience within a virtual environment. We found differences in ERP components of the brain between participants with a high and a low feeling of presence in VR. Hence, this study shows a new and valuable method for measuring subjective user experiences in VR, which is worth to investigate in more detail in future studies.

© Silvia Erika Kober, Dr. 😉


Kober, S.E., Neuper, C., 2012. Using auditory event-related EEG potentials to assess presence in virtual reality. International Journal of Human – Computer Studies, 70, 577–587.

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