TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF EQUATIONS
LIST OF FIGURES
1.1 STATE OF THE ART
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND QUESTIONS
1.4 PROBLEM STATEMENTS
1.5 THE SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH & TECHNICAL MATERIALS
1.7 METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
2.0 CHAPTER ONE: EFFECTS OF VR ON USER PSYCHOLOGY
2.2 EFFECTS OF VR ON EMOTIONS
2.2.1 EVOKING EMOTIONS IN VR
2.3 THE MATTER OF THE SENSE OF PRESENCE
2.3.1 INDUCTION THROUGH THE TECHNOLOGICAL QUALITY
2.3.2 EMOTIONS & SENSE OF PRESENCE
2.3.3 EMOTIONAL IMMERSION VS. SPATIAL IMMERSION
2.3.4 AUDITORY IN INDUCING SENSE OF PRESENCE
2.4 EFFECTS OF VR ON PERCEPTION
2.4.1 PERCEPTION & CONSCIOUSSNESS IN VR
2.4.2 PARTICULAR MISPERCEPTIONS IN VR
2.7 CONCLUDING REMARKS: FINDINGS
3.0 CHAPTER TWO: UNDERSTANDING BRAND COMMUNICATION
3.1 UNDERSTANDING BRAND COMMUNICATION
3.2 BRAND EQUITY, BRAND IMAGE, BRAND AWARENESS
3.3 BRAND COMMUNICATION PRINCIPLES
3.4 OVERALL COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
3.5 BRAND MESSAGE DESIGN & BRAND STORYTELLING
4.0 CHAPTER THREE: THE FUTURE OF COMMUNICATION
4.1 VR AS A COMMUNICATION MEDIUM
4.2 VR IN ADVERTISING
4.3 VR CAMPAIGNS FROM THE SECTOR
5.0 CHAPTER FOUR: BRANDS & STRATEGY
5.1 CASE STUDY I: RED BULL THE BRAND
5.1.1 BRAND & MARKET RESEARCH
5.1.2 TARGET PERSONA IDENTIFICATION
5.1.3 COMMUNICATION STRATEGY PROCESS
5.1.4 CREATIVE PROCESS
5.2 CASE STUDY 2 : IKEA THE BRAND
5.2.1 BRAND & MARKET RESEARCH
5.2.2 TARGET PERSONA IDENTIFICATION
5.2.3 COMMUNICATION STRATEGY PROCESS
5.2.4 CREATIVE PROCESS
6.0 CHAPTER FIVE: EXECUTIONS OF THE CAMPAIGNS
6.1 GENERAL OVERVIEW
6.2 RED BULL 360VR VIRTUAL CYCLING JOURNEY
6.3 IKEA 360VR ROOMREADY VIRTUAL ROOM SHOWROOM
6.4: INTERACTIVE VR: ACTION GAME PROTOTYPE
7.0 CHAPTER SIX: ASSESSMENT SURVEY
7.1 BACKGROUND OF THE ANALYSIS
7.2 SURVEY ASSESSMENT
7.2.1 RED BULL 360VR VIRTUAL CYCLING JOURNEY
7.2.2 INTERACTIVE VR: IKEA BRANDED ACTION GAME PROTOTYPE
7.2.3 IKEA ROOMREADY VIRTUAL ROOM SHOWROOM
7.3 GENERAL INTERPRETATION
BIBLIOGRAPHY ( CHAPTERS 1-4 )
BIBLIOGRAPHY ( CHAPTER 5 )
APPENDIX - A
APPENDIX - B
APPENDIX - C
Completing such a comprehensive thesis study may not have been possible without the support and assistance of some people whose names are stated as follows. Their contributions are heartily appreciated and gratefully acknowledged.
First of all, I would like to acknowledge and thank my parents, who back me up with love and understanding not only during the thesis period but also throughout my master's degree.
Thirdly, I owe my thanks to my friend and temporary flatmate, Mehmet Cetok, for his indulgent pieces of advice and supports during this period.
Lastly, I owe my supervisors a debt of gratitude, Prof. Dr. Frank Gabler and Prof. Philip Hausmeier, each of whom has provided patient advice and guidance all along the thesis writing process.
Thank you all for your understanding and courteous supports.
Die virtuelle Realität als Phänomen und Technologie hat eine immense Distanz zurückgelegt, insbesondere in den letzten zwei Jahrzehnten. Im gegenwärtigen Klima überschritt das Abenteuer, das mit der Einführung von VR-Geräten der neuen Generation begann, die von der Marke Oculus ausgelöst wurden, die Grenzen von nur einem Spielgerät. Es wurde bereits für eine Vielzahl von Zwecken in verschiedenen Disziplinen übernommen. Darüber hinaus da die VR-Technologie einzigartige Funktionen bietet, die mit keinem der vorhandenen technologischen Geräte vergleichbar sind, wird sie derzeit in einer Reihe von Sektoren, einschließlich der Kommunikation und des Marketings, häufig eingesetzt. Derzeit neuere Studien haben jedoch gezeigt, dass die VR-Technologie aufgrund ihres übermäßig immersiven Charakters einige psychologische Auswirkungen auf ihre Benutzer haben kann. Abgesehen von den Diskussionen über die Fallgruben und Chancen solcher Effekte können diese Auswirkungen auch verwendet werden, wenn man sie gut analysiert, um bessere virtuelle Erlebnisse in VR-Medien zu schaffen. Weiteres im Fall, dass virtuelle Realität als nächstes Kommunikationsmedium verwendet wird, könnten die mit solchen Effekten ausgestatteten Erfahrungen in naher Zukunft auch den Markenkommunikationsbemühungen verschiedener Marken dienen.
Diese Studie fungiert als eine Schnittmenge von vier verschiedenen Disziplinen: die Psychologie, die virtuelle Realität, die Kommunikation und das Marketing, um innovative Vorschläge für die prospektive Nutzung des Mediums der virtuellen Realität in der Marketingkommunikation zu entwickeln. Die Arbeit zielt zunächst darauf ab, die psychologischen Auswirkungen von VR auf drei entscheidende Phänomene in Bezug auf die Qualitäten einer zufriedenstellenden immersiven Erfahrung in VR zu erfassen: die Emotionen, das Präsenzgefühl und die Wahrnehmung – mithilfe einer thematischen Analyse, indem in ihrem Umfang verschiedene wissenschaftliche Studien zusammengestellt werden. Darüber hinaus strebt diese Forschung an, von einigen dieser erkannten psychologischen Elemente Nutzen zu ziehen, um effizientere VR-Erlebnisse zugunsten der Markenkommunikation zu machen. Es ist bereits möglich, weitere Implementierungen in dieser Richtung von der hergestellten VR zu finden. Da sie jedoch ein neu entstehendes Medium ist, ist es immer noch unklar, ob ihre Dynamik als Kommunikationsmedium geeignet ist. Um diesbezüglich eine solide Haltung einzunehmen, bietet diese Abschlussarbeit einen Diskussionsabschnitt, in dem die Wahrscheinlichkeit untersucht wird, inwiefern die VR der nächste Kommunikationskanal wird, indem sowohl wissenschaftliche Literatur als auch die Sektorimplementierungen verwendet werden.
Darüber hinaus beabsichtigt die Arbeit, innovative Prototypen von VR-Kommunikationskampagnen in zwei Fallstudien zu strategisieren und zu entwickeln, die jeweils nach einer vorgegebenen Marke (Red Bull, IKEA) erstellt wurden. Da es sich bei der VR-Kommunikation um ein relativ neues Konzept handelt, können die für diese Zwecke entwickelten Markenkommunikationskampagnen nicht über bloße innovative Ansätze hinausgehen. Um konkrete Schritte in einem so unbestimmten Bereich zu unternehmen, befasste sich diese Studie zunächst mit der Marketing- und Kommunikationsliteratur. Anschließend wurden drei aus der Literatur ausgegrabene wissenschaftliche Theorien in den Strategieprozess einbezogen, um die Entwicklungsphase zu stärken. Auf der Grundlage dieser erweiterten Schritte der Kommunikationsstrategie wurden für jede Markenfallstudie typische kreative Ideenfindungsverfahren durchgeführt. Abhängig von diesen kreativen Konzepten, lieferte die Studie innovative Prototypen für VR-Kampagnen, die zuvor erkannte psychologische Elemente enthalten. Diese Prototypen kreativer Markenkommunikationskampagnen wurden als zwei 360VR-Videos und ein Prototyp eines interaktiven VR-Actionspiels produziert und zusammen mit dieser Arbeit vorgestellt.
Zusammenfassend wurden diese jeweiligen Kampagnenprototypen und die in ihren Bereichen verwendeten wissenschaftlich-psychologischen Elemente von einer kleinen Stichprobengruppe bewertet. Die Effizienz der Kampagnenideen und ihrer wissenschaftlichen Elemente wurde über eine Bewertungsumfrage bewertet. Die Ergebnisse wurden in der SPSS-Software gemäß der deskriptiven Statistik berechnet und analysiert. Während zwei Kampagnenprototypen erfolgreich bewertet wurden, indem die Mindestanzahl von Probanden erreicht wurde, konnte ein Kampagnenprototyp nicht bewertet werden, da keine Mindestteilnehmerzahl erreicht werden konnte. Die Umfrageergebnisse zeigen, dass die Verwendung einiger wissenschaftlicher Elemente von den Probanden als effizient befunden wurde, um die Qualität der VR-Inhalte zu verbessern. Im Gegensatz, einige wissenschaftliche Elemente, die in den Prototypen der Kampagne verwendet wurden, wurden von derselben Stichprobengruppe nicht als effizient eingestuft. Außerdem zeigt der GMW (Gesamtmittelwert) jedes Prototyps, der für die Effizienz der wissenschaftlichen Elemente berechnet wurde, dass die Verwendung wissenschaftlich-psychologischer Komponenten von den Befragten insgesamt positiv bewertet wurde, was die immersive Qualität des jeweiligen VR-Inhalts verbessert hat.
Diese Studie weist eine Reihe von Einschränkungen auf, die auf verschiedene Gründe zurückzuführen sind, wie z. B. die weltweite COVID-19-Pandemie und die technischen Einschränkungen. Diese Einschränkungen hatten sich direkt auf die Datenerfassungs- und Bewertungsverfahren sowie auf die Produktion der Kampagnenprototypen ausgewirkt. In dieser Hinsicht wären weitere ergänzende Studien zur Behebung der Mängel dieser Forschung wünschenswert, indem ihre Quellen mit einer detaillierteren Literaturübersicht unterstützt und solche Ausführungen in kontrollierten Laborumgebungen bewertet werden.
SCHLÜSSELWÖRTER: Virtuelle Realität, Markenkommunikation, Werbung, Psychologie, Marketing, Kommunikation, VR-Werbung, psychologische Effekte, VR Kommunikation, 360VR, interaktive VR, die deskriptiven Statistiken
Virtual Reality, both as a phenomenon and technology, has covered an immense distance, particularly over the recent two decades. In the current climate, the adventure that started with launching new-generation VR devices sparked by the Oculus brand exceeded the boundaries of being merely a gaming device. It has already become adopted by different disciplines for a variety of purposes. Moreover, since VR technology comes forth with unique features that cannot be matched with either of the technological devices existing, it is currently widely used in a range of sectors, including communications and marketing. However, some recent studies have revealed that Virtual Reality technology, thanks to its overly immersive nature, can have some psychological effects on its users. Apart from the discussions regarding the pearls and pitfalls of such effects, these impacts can also be used to create better virtual experiences in VR medium if they are analyzed well. Furthermore, in the case that Virtual Reality will be used as the next communication medium, the experiences equipped with suchlike effects might also serve different brands´ brand communication efforts in the near future.
This study acts as an intersection set of four different disciplines: psychology, virtual reality, communications, marketing, to develop innovative proposals for the prospective utilization of virtual reality medium in marketing communications. The thesis initially aims to detect the psychological effects of VR on three crucial phenomena concerning the qualities of a satisfactory immersive experience in VR: emotions, sense of presence, and perception, with the help of thematic analysis, by compiling various scientific studies within its scope. Further, this study aspires to benefit from some of those detected psychological elements to create more efficient VR experiences in favor of brand communication endeavors. It is possible to find some implementations of VR produced in this direction already. However, since VR is a newly emerging medium, it is still ambiguous whether its dynamics are suitable to be adopted as a communication medium. In order to take a solid stance in this respect, this thesis study provides a discussion section that inquires the likelihood of VR becoming the next communication channel by utilizing both scientific literature and the sector implementations.
On top of that, this study intends to both strategize and develop innovative VR communication campaign prototypes under two case studies, each of which was formed according to one predetermined brand (Red Bull, IKEA). However, since VR communication is a fairly new concept, the brand communication campaigns developed for these purposes cannot go beyond being merely innovative approaches. In order to take concrete steps in such an undetermined field, this study firstly gave an eye to the marketing and communications literature. It then included three scientific theories dug out from the literature into the strategy process with the aim of strengthening the development phase. On the basis of these enriched communication strategy steps, typical creative ideation procedures were conducted for each brand case study. Depending on those creative concepts, the study came up with innovative VR campaign prototypes which include scientific psychological elements detected beforehand. These creative brand communication campaign prototypes were produced as two 360VR videos and one Interactive VR action game prototype and presented alongside this study.
In conclusion, these respective campaign prototypes and the scientific psychological elements used within their scopes were assessed by a small sample group. The efficiency of the campaign ideas and their scientific elements were evaluated via an assessment survey. The results were calculated and analyzed in SPSS software according to the descriptive statistics. While two campaign prototypes were assessed successfully by reaching the minimum number of subjects, one campaign prototype could not be evaluated since it could not achieve a minimum number of participants. The survey results show that the usage of some scientific elements was found efficient by the subjects in increasing the quality of the particular VR contents. In contrast, a few scientific elements utilized in the campaign prototypes fell short to be rated efficient by the same sample group. Moreover, the GM (Grand Mean) of each prototype calculated for the scientific elements' efficiency indicate that the usage of scientific psychological components was found positively by the respondents at large in increasing the respective VR content's immersive quality.
This study has a group of limitations that stemmed from different reasons, such as the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, technical constraints. Such limitations had directly affected both data collection and assessment procedures as well as the production of the campaign prototypes. In this respect, further complementary studies would be appreciated in correcting this study's deficiencies by supporting its sources with a more detailed literature review and assessing such executions in more controlled laboratory environments.
KEYWORDS: Virtual Reality, Brand Communication, Advertising, Psychology, Marketing, Communication, VR Advertising, Psychological Effects, VR Communications, 360VR, Interactive VR, Descriptive Statistics
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1 : cognitive absorption dimensions
Table 2.2 : concluding remarks: findings
Table 2.3 : concluding remarks: findings
Table 5.1 : red bull brand´s stp analysis
Table 5.2 : red bull brand´s swot analysis
Table 5.3 : red bull brand´s pest analysis
Table 5.4 : ikea brand´s stp analysis
Table 5.5 : ikea brand swot analysis
Table 5.6 : ikea brand pest analysis
Table 6.1 : the assets and rigs for interactive vr action game prototype
Table 7.1 : demographics of survey attendants
Table 7.2 : 360vr virtual tour journey descriptive statistics
Table 7.3 : the effectiveness column chart of 360vr red bull
Table 7.4 : interactive vr action game prototype - descriptive statistics
Table 7.5 : the effectiveness column chart of interactive vr action game
Table 7.6 : ikea roomready virtual room showroom descriptive statistics
LIST OF EQUATIONS
Equation 2.1 : the equation of perception
Equation 2.2 : the equation of perception – a sample way of solving.
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.1 : reality-virtuality (rv) continuum
Figure 1.2 : the research design of the study
Figure 2.1 : a detailed emotional valence arousal model
Figure 2.2 : toy and baby seat stimulants from the experiment
Figure 2.2.1 : wedding dress stimulant
Figure 2.3 : the feeling of presence model
Figure 2.4 : virtual vs social sense of presence
Figure 2.5 : mmip musical selections table
Figure 2.6 : the results of the experiment
Figure 2.7 : self-tailored calibration task in vr
Figure 2.8 : metachron real time systematic event alterations in vr
Figure 2.8.1 : the sky set-up of the metachron framework study
Figure 2.9: engagement & interaction model in vr
Figure 2.9.1 : coding relationships model - between the themes
Figure 2.9.2 : emotions in vr: code- subcodes- segments model
Figure 2.9.3 : sense of presence in vr: code-subcodes-segments mode
Figure 2.9.4 : perception in vr: code-subcodes-segments model
Figure 3.1 : communication tools, interface & branding triangle
Figure 3.2: cbbe model (customer-based-brand-equity)
Figure 3.3: the model of brand equity
Figure 3. 4: the main elements of brand knowledge model
Figure 3.5: marketing communication mix model
Figure 3.6: sbce- successful brands´ communication egg model
Figure 3.7: pcdl model by ghodeswar
Figure 3.8: imc strategy step by step model
Figure 4.1: the communication system model
Figure 4.2 : the vr campaign of old irish brand of natakhtari brewery
Figure 4.3 : toms virtual giving trip campaign
Figure 4.4 : ikea vr experience application
Figure 5.1 : germany energy drinks market size forecast
Figure 5.2 : target persona identification
Figure 5.3 : communication models applied to the red bull strategy process
Figure 5.4 : creative brief of red bull brand
Figure 5.5 : creative process figures & storyboard-shooting script
Figure 5.6 : the biggest ikea store networks in europe
Figure 5.7 : ikea target persona identification
Figure 5.8 : communication models applied to ikea brand´s strategy process
Figure 5.9 : the creative briefing of ikea brand
Figure 5.9.1 : creative process figures & storyboard-shooting script
Figure 6.1 : the equipments, and the helmet to create a first-person view
Figure 6.2 : red bull 360vr virtual cycling journey 3d packshot
Figure 6.3 : ikea roomready virtual room showroom starting scene
Figure 6.4 : interactive vr action game prototype branded by ikea
Figure 7.1 : assessment´s linear scale evaluation values
When anything new comes along, everyone, like a child discovering the world, thinks that they've invented it, but you scratch a little and you find a caveman scratching on a wall is creating virtual reality in a sense. What is new here is that more sophisticated instruments give you the power to do it more easily. Virtual reality is dreams.
- Morton Heilig
1.1 STATE OF THE ART
The human mind can be easily affected by different stimulative external factors. Especially as of 21st century, as human beings, our environment has been becoming surrounded by stimulative sets of information which have increased their numbers every passing day. In such an atmosphere, the human brain has been stranded in the middle of a war of interpreting those stimulants which cover the mind in every incident and each point of life. Our brains continuously try to find meanings to the information collected by our senses, yet, sometimes, this interpretation process can be misguided, and our perception process regarding the outer world can shift away to other unintended directions. With McLuhan’s words, as the world becomes more of "a global village," the information stimulants that individuals need to interpret have proliferated synchronously. On the other hand, newly emerging communication channels have always had one of the most prominent roles in creating that above-mentioned outer atmosphere full of interchanging information during the last century. This impact of communication channels has been used both for virtuous and unethical purposes at the same time.
The perceptional alterations and misinterpretations regarding the outer environment are humanitarian facts that individuals frequently encounter in everyday life. Such situations should be regarded particularly ordinary in this century, the century of digitalization and common internet usage. According to a scientific study which had been conducted during one year based on remarkable data sets, the human brain is bombarded with equally 34 GB of information daily, enough quantity that would overburden a laptop that has a decent hard disk inside a week (Bilton, 2009). However, the current evolutionary state of the primitive human brain naturally stays short in meeting the criteria of such an amount of information processing that human beings are often exposed to. Most likely, the human brain has not ever been bombarded with such an amount of information all along with the history of humankind. On top of it, the number of stimulative information we encounter in the outer world keeps increasing every passing day. Significantly, both visual and auditory media channels make a remarkable contribution to this cumulative information bombardment.
Concurrently, it may not be wrong to claim that the visual information provided by media channels is an efficient actor in the name of influencing our minds. Apart from the visual elements that belong to the physical world, computer-based graphics, visual materials, and motion pictures such as movies can leave some impacts on human beings to some extent (Gorini et al., 2009). Many studies have demonstrated the capability of imaging techniques and films to reveal some particular human emotions so far and their both long-lasting or temporary effects on our way of thinking. Additionally, media technology history had witnessed several conspicuously effective developments in visual and auditory technologies within this century. The emerging of smart-phones, high-quality TVs, along with the fast-speed that the Internet technology has reached, directly accelerated the flow of information and enabled the information easier to reach. However, most probably, neither of those media technologies has been as effective over the human mind as Virtual Reality technology is able to be.
VR seems to have the characteristic of being an uttermost influential medium. Even considering its novelty, some studies show that it can leave both long and short-term effects on the user's psychology. This situation can arise in various discussion topics regarding the matter of usage of the respective technology. Such an effective structure of this medium can also be interpreted both as an advantage and a disadvantage when it comes to the usage purposes in terms of consumers of the respective technology. It will definitely be wrong not to mention the possible adverse effects and will not even try to minimize them as possible; however, it will also be meaningless to overlook the respective technology's positive yields. Such an efficient concept can contribute many benefits to the different fields of disciplines. Which, the technology already started to proceed in this direction even from now.
As a term, in fact, virtual reality has been hanging around for a long time. Especially its technological aspect has been developed excessively since the first time its concept has been coined. Such that, it has perhaps exceeded most of the expectations throughout its whole evolution process. For instance, it should have been difficult to predict that, even two decades ago, Virtual Reality would take the shape that it possesses today. The technology of Virtual Reality has undoubtedly been covered much distance, from gigantic screens to head-mounted displays, and correspondingly, a lot of studies have been conducted to discover the obscure parts of this technology. Also, VR was examined in various ways, from concept to its technology, aiming to understand its nature and bring its developments one step further.
On the other hand, the technological facilities that VR technology possess nowadays are slightly distinctive compared to the technical aspects which were used to define the Virtual Reality phenomenon in former times. As stated, the conceptual idea of virtual reality has been hanging around for nearly one century. When examining the history of the concept, it is seen that the idea appeared for the first time with a comic book in 1935 in the United States called "Pygmalion’s Spectacles" (Stuart, 2018). This comic book illustrated a pair of glasses that enable the user to see another world. The similarities with today’s VR notion are clear to be noticed. In 1938, the term "virtual reality" was used for the first time to describe such a concept by French avant-garde dramatist Antonin Artaud in a collection of essays called "la réalité virtuelle" (see: Artaud & Richards, 1958.)
In terms of implementing the concept, maybe one of the first remarkable applications of the concept belonged to Morton Heilig’s “Sensorama” in the 1950s (Stuart, 2018). Heilig’s experimental machine had enabled the audience to watch content full of underwater shots through lenses. The technology has also includes audio, smell, and steam of water that was sprayed on the audience during the experience(ibid.). This labor of increasing the sense of reality during the experience by addressing different senses is also one of the main seekings of virtual reality technology nowadays. Morton Heilig proceeded with his efforts and achieved to patent and manufacture (in prototype) the world’s first head-mounted VR glasses, which he titled "Telespehre" (Stuart, 2018). The prototype was so similar to today’s head-mounted displays but without a tracking option.
As the more recent history is examined, it is possible to claim that the VR concept had started to climb up the ladder fastly after the developments in the 1990s. The Virtuality Group released their arcade machine in 1991. This technology was most likely the most iconic first-generation VR display, which provides both stereoscopic viewing and, most crucially, low latency to prevent motion sickness (ibid.). Later on, companies like Sega and Nintendo got on the stage, and both came up with their headsets those achieved to catch very few commercial successes. Sega’s HMD was never released to the market based on the complaints, including vigorous headaches and motion sickness. In contrast, Nintendo’s headsets called "Virtual Boy" were released but received negative feedback regarding lack of conformity and low-quality displays. In 1992, the first CAVE Virtual environment was invented in the University of Illinois scope, an immersive room-sized cube environment consisting of three-to-six wall-based screens surrounded by different projectors (Cruz-Neira et al., 1992). The CAVE Virtual Environment took its name from Cave's allegory in Plato’s "Republic" work. In the meantime, the concept of Virtual Reality remarkably headed up in the movie sector, and it became worldwide popular thanks to the movies such as Virtuosity, Strange Days, and well-known one, The Matrix series (Stuart, 2018).
In 2012, VR technology appeared once more as head-mounted-displays under the umbrella of a Kickstarter called Oculus Rift. Oculus was founded by Palmer Luckey, a 17-year-old entrepreneur who was disappointed that there were no affordable and low-latency VR displays in the market. The next hype cycle and the final generation of VR technology’s labors for surviving in the market thereby had started. Afterward, VR technology developments have gathered momentum, and some other big players such as Sony, HTC, and Microsoft got involved in the market. Virtual reality headsets (HMD) were announced to be commercially available to the broad public access as of near 2016 with proposals from different companies such as Facebook (Oculus), HTC and Valve (Vive), Microsoft (HoloLens), and Sony (Morpheus). Since then, both the technological developments and scientific research regarding the phenomenon have been accelerated and tried to bring the developments in VR to the next level.
At the present time, VR technology has proper technological facilities that don't disturb audiences' comfort anymore; on the contrary, they provide the audience with additional specialties that can increase their comfort during the immersion. The new generation VR glasses have a variety of useful features that improve the quality of a virtual experience, such as monoscopic screens with 8K resolution and very low latency ratios, etc.
VR is a term that is frequently intermixed with other terminologies of the extended realities such as mixed reality and augmented reality. In such a case, where should we position the VR phenomenon to understand its distinctions than the "accustomed reality" and other concepts in XR such as Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality, etc.? According to Madary et al. (2016), everyone should remember that head-mounted displays of VR may presumably facilitate users to transit among virtual, augmented, and substitutional reality as well as adjusting the user’s perceived location on "the Reality-Virtuality Continuum." In this statement, the scale of Reality-Virtuality Continuum can be considered an important term to understand for the reader since it gives an opinion regarding the exact place of virtual reality phenomenon to the audience.
The Reality- Virtuality Continuum (see: Figure 1.1) is a constant scale ranging from entirely "real," in other words, from accustomed "reality" to the entire virtual "virtuality," which was coined by Paul Milgram for the first time (Milgram et al., 1994). On this scale, Virtual reality technology occupies the peak point, i.e., an entirely virtual environment, and it is discriminated from mixed reality in that sense. According to this scale, the virtual reality notion is the direct opposite of the reality that we sense in our daily lives. On the point of virtual reality, the phenomenon doesn't contain any elements that belong to the physical reality of the world. Exactly in consideration of this point, it differentiates itself from other notions held in the scope of extended realities literature, such as Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Even though the phenomena of Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality still contain elements that belong to the physical reality within themselves, Virtual Reality doesn't have any dealings with physical reality. From this angle, since VR refers to the exact opposite peak point of absolute reality, Madary et al. (2016) assert that VR can cause blurrings among the boundaries between kinds of immersive environments.
Figure 1.1 : Reality-Virtuality (RV) Continuum
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Note. Reality-Virtuality Continuum Model. Reprinted from Mobile Augmented Reality:
The Potential for Education with permission, by Nincarean et al., (2013). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.385
As VR technology will become more widespread in the general public, the opportunities that the VR medium provides and the possible risks in terms of mental health born by the usage of respective technology will become critical matters of debate. Apart from that, intermixing physical reality and virtuality to each other can be another arising subject here because this situation may bring irrevocable effects when it comes to mental wellness (Madary et al., 2016). Given such possible impacts, VR calls for a vast space of potential actions to come up with some healthy usage regulations for VR devices. However, based on VR devices' novelty, it is not possible to mention the presence of regulations and health-preserving recommendations. As a matter of fact, imposing suchlike restrictions must be based on rational arguments and available empirical evidence in open democratic societies, by especially paying regard to the general principle of liberalism (in principle, the freedom should belong to the individuals when it comes to dealing with their own brain and in choosing their own desired states of mind) (ibid.). In the future, it may be possible to see that some regulations concerning the usage of this space, as well as, in some cases, rational and evidence-based constraining sanctions in order to assure public mental health (ibid.). Nevertheless, such discussions are conducted under the umbrella of ethics in the respective medium’s usage and have no direct relation to this study's scope.
Virtual reality technology can be utilized by a variety of disciplines owing to its limitless fertile world without borders. The number of disciplines that reap the benefits of this technology's facilities increases every passing day. However, VR is mostly known in public opinion with its applications in the gaming industry. Developments in Virtual Reality did not only produce an effective medium but also changed the way of gaming in the last decade. VR had broadened the horizons of gaming, but the degree to which virtual reality performs a more immersive and more "present" environment is still generally disputed (Lum et al., 2018). Owing to the features that VR has already brought, it is now possible to mention such game experiences that take place in a wholly immersed state of mind, without being distracted by the elements that belong to the external world. The new generation gaming world in VR allows gamers to dive into their favorite game kinds and become the respective game's main character supported by the strong visual, auditory, and sometimes body-involver elements. From this angle, VR gaming is more way effective than the traditional gaming experiences. Along the same line, some researches show that it can leave remarkable impacts on the gamers based on this overly immersive structure. Some of these impactful elements will also be touched in the scope of Chapter One of this study.
In contrast to the general public perception, the sectors that benefit from VR technology cannot be solely restricted to the gaming sector. The number of disciplines that utilize this particular technology's multifunctional technological structure can be easily variated because VR is capable enough to find itself an application field within various disciplines. The related literature shows us that researchers have been using VR technology for different research purposes for more than two decades. As new developments have been emerging in this technology, it has become possible to see more scientific research in the literature that aims to understand this phenomenon. Especially after the launching of last generation VR glasses sparked by the Oculus brand, a remarkable increase in research that examines both the effects and opportunities of VR pull the attention. On the other hand, VR seems that it has already become a center of interest in psychological researches in the last two decades, considering understanding its effects on users´ psychology (Diemer et al., 2015). This situation can be directly attributed to VR technology’s comprehensive effects, particularly over the human mind, which any observer can clearly see. With its matchless competencies to imitate complicated real conditions and circumstances, the technology proposes to researchers one-of-a-kind opportunities to explore human behavior through the benefits of well-controlled immersive experience designs.
VR technology is adopted by various disciplines today, from medicine to sports training, within the range of different purposes such as education, research, physical and mental wellness, marketing, etc. A wide range of brands consisted of Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and IKEA, have started to benefit from VR technology both in their pre-production and post-production steps. Marketing branches of some big companies also seem to have already discovered the vast opportunities VR technology may provide to their marketing efforts. Although VR technology can still be considered at its early developmental phases, it is still possible to see some implementations by remarkable brands that include VR technology inside to reach their customer groups in the best possible manner. Significantly, the advertising sector already considered VR technology as a new way, maybe as a new media channel to communicate with the target customers. In the last five years, it is possible to find some VR advertising executions in the sector which achieved receiving conspicuously valuable results. Does it mean that the future of advertising already got born in the communication sector? May the "VR advertising" be a new way of communication in the future’s highly competitive marketing climate? It can still be early to answer such questions. As VR becomes more mainstream than today, we will have a chance to understand such questions thoroughly. However, considering its highly effective structure, it can be asserted that VR comes forth as a proper candidate which has all the capabilities to shine as a new communication medium.
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
As virtual reality technology reached its last breakthrough with the launching of commercially available, portable VR devices, scientific studies which examine both the phenomenological and technological structure of the respective technology have gained momentum simultaneously. Even though the literature can still be considered relatively limited to provide comprehensive knowledge regarding the nature of virtual reality medium, the technology, at least, has become highly encouraging for future research endeavors owing to the newly discovered findings in the last decade.
Likewise, as VR devices become more mainstream in society, the number of studies investigating the psychological effects of VR usage on users have also been raised, and reached a point to discuss this subject in the scope of ethics in the VR medium. Among studies for similar purposes, one of the critical studies in the literature was conducted by Madary et al. in 2016 and they had shed light on both short-term and long-term effects of VR usage on user groups. Their study was laying bare both the remarkable influence of VR technology on the user's mind and, at the same time, raises different questions regarding the ethics of usage as well as the risks for public health, etc. In terms of VR technology´s conspicuous outcomes, their study also constitutes one of the points of origin of this thesis study. More detailed information regarding the findings of Madary et al. (2016) will be given under the background of Chapter I of this thesis study, the chapter which directly focuses on the psychological impacts of VR usage under three different phenomena.
Since Virtual Reality still couldn't reach its peak maturity when it comes to both technological and conceptual qualities, there are still many aspects that await to be enlightened regarding virtual reality. It is clear that there is a need for more time and research endeavors in order to grasp the phenomenon more. However, it appears that these uncertainties don´t prevent the usage of the medium for different purposes, just like a usage of a deeply researched and accustomed medium in the general public. When we look at the present situation of Virtual Reality, it is possible to see that VR has been already adopted by different sectors that are already aware of the limitless facilities of this technology. Currently, VR technology is used in a wide range of industries, from automotive to training, and is considered a remarkably impactful technology. On the other hand, both the marketing and communications sectors have also started to benefit from VR technology to promote their brands and products. This employment of the technology led to arise questions such as if VR technology will be the new communication medium in the near future. Regardless of such questions´ answers, the technology's communication-based implementations already gave the first yields in the sector and achieved receive striking feedback. Given the efficient and overly immersive structure of VR technology, the otherwise was already unimaginable.
This study acts as a bridge between the scientific findings related to VR technology's impacts over three critical phenomena concerning reaching a degree of immersion quality in Virtual Reality applications (emotions, sense of presence, and perception), and the usage of VR as a communication medium for the brands in order to interact better with their customer groups. From this point forth, the study leans its theory and approach on the background of three different disciplines; psychology, communications, and, in some cases, marketing. In order to achieve its aim, the study reviews the related sources within its scope, firstly, psychology literature, secondly communication and marketing literature. Nevertheless, since communication via VR medium is still a newly-emerging concept, the proposals in this field cannot exceed beyond being solely "innovative ideas and approaches." Therefore, the study departs from the proven findings in the respective pieces of literature and aims to arrive at promising innovative approaches which may have a future in communications sector.
In the light of today's standpoint, it can be claimed that it is already widely known that VR is an efficient medium that has the capability of leaving unignorable impacts on user psychology. Even though the numbers are still not sufficient, the scientific studies investigating different effects of VR have been increasing every passing day. As there are a variety of studies as Madary et al. (2016) example which raises questions regarding possible psychological risks of VR, it is also possible to find studies that touch upon the benefits of VR's influence over the human mind (especially in some medical disciplines, VR already has been considered highly effective treatment tool thanks to its overly immersive structure). However, there is also one fact that pulls the attention in this manner. There is a remarkable limitation in the number of studies that compile different studies and present in the same source. Even though some studies in this direction present a comprehensive literature review, this effort can not be considered as useful as a study, which directly aims to compile different studies in the same source to see the variety of effects all at once. From this point of view, this study has undertaken a background mission of compiling different pieces of literature related to the impact of VR over emotions, sense of presence, and perception phenomena within its scope. Even though it undertakes this mission particularly to reach its primary mission to utilize this understanding in creating efficient VR campaigns for the brands, in the meanwhile, it also hopes to act as a guidebook for the researchers who seek to reach different studies regarding these three psychological phenomena.
Since the utilization of VR technology as a communication system for both communication and marketing purposes is a pretty new concept, unfortunately, it's not possible to find reliable guiding sources regarding that part of the study. Along the same line, these present sources are insufficient to make a crosscheck and draw a roadmap to create a VR brand communication campaign. Nevertheless, in such conditions, for creating something brand-new campaign, turning back to the fundamental elements in the literature can provide very beneficial aspects in terms of finding an illuminated path in a dark highway. In the light of this opinion, along with the psychology-based scientific literature, communications and marketing literature will be also reviewed in this study. Some elementary and critical theories and models will be dug out from the literature in the chapter called " understanding brand communication." Afterward, some of those models and theories that are considered particularly important will be applied to the brand research findings in the "Brands & Strategy" chapter. In the last breath, different communication briefings for the communication campaign production will be prepared based on those models and other typical strategical elements of communication development. Thus, metaphorically speaking, an innovative and gentle road will be built to create brand communication campaigns in this newly emerging communication channel called VR without going off the rails of the scientific literature.
Lastly, this study aims to benefit from scientific findings collected in Chapter I's scope to improve both the engagement quality and the level of immersiveness of VR based brand communication campaign prototypes that will be strategized based on the information acquired from communications and marketing literature. This aim is also coherent with the background hypothesis of the study. This study's background hypothesis is in the direction that the scientific findings regarding the psychological effects can be efficient to improve the immersiveness quality of VR experience designs. According to that hypothesis, a virtual reality experience (in the case of this study, brand communication campaigns) that take the psychological impacts into consideration may reach the qualities of being more impactful than the experiences that overlook such aspects. To test this assumption, a survey that adopts descriptive statistics will be conducted on a minor sample group (10 subjects) and will be presented in the survey assessment chapter. According to the descriptive survey analysis results, an opinion tendency regarding the elements assessed (since the sample group is relatively small to have precise claims) will be sought, and observe whether those data sets may support this hypothesis. However, it should be remarked that a more extensive subject group is needed to obtain more accurate results. Further or complementary studies are expected to cover this absence in this direction in the future.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND QUESTIONS
The objectives which this thesis study intends to achieve are listed up below respectively:
1. Based on a comprehensive literature review, to detect the effects of VR technology over three critical phenomena of user psychology (namely; emotions, sense of presence, and perception) which are directly related to the conceptual quality of creating a highly immersive virtual experience, and examining the relationship between these notions in the scope of thematic analysis.
2. To discuss VR's high potential to become the new communication medium by providing a scientific basis to the utilization of VR as a communication channel.
3. To provide conspicuous examples from the utilization of VR technology by different brands in the communication sector with the aim of supporting the scientific discussion regarding VR's quality to become the next communication medium.
4. To strategize brand communication campaign prototypes by including some critical communication and marketing theories from the literature (based on the idea that turning to the very basics of brand communication in the literature can provide essential aspects to compete in this newly emerging so-called communication medium)
5. To ideate and produce brand communication campaign prototypes strategized for the Virtual Reality platform which contain psychological scientific elements acquired throughout "Chapter I" within their scopes.
6. To assess the campaign prototypes with a survey that uses descriptive statistics in order to understand the efficiency of the psychological elements which will be used in the prototypes, by aiming to observe if they were effective in terms of increasing the qualities of an immersive experience in VR.
The questions that this thesis aims to answer throughout the study are listed below in a chronological order:
1. What are the possible effects of Virtual Reality technology over the predetermined elements of users' psychology (emotions, sense of presence, perception), and how these elements may be used to create better virtual experiences in VR?
2. How likely will virtual reality be accepted as a new communication medium?
3. How may the brands benefit from this newly emerging communication channel in the name of their communication endeavors to reach their target groups in the near future?
4. How might a brand communication campaign be designed for VR medium in proper with the effects of VR technology on users, and what can be said about such a campaign’s efficiency based on the data that will be collected via a descriptive survey analysis?
1.4 PROBLEM STATEMENTS
This thesis study departs from two different problem statements and hopes to provide sufficient answers and solutions to these statements throughout the study.
First Problem Statement (Chapter I)
According to the previous studies, some findings regarding the effects of VR show that Virtual Reality would have long-term and short-term impacts on users ́ psychology. However, although there are relatively many more studies that focus on different effects of VR, it is still hard to find sufficient pieces of literature that compile and classify them in the same source by reviewing the diversity of research papers at the same time.
Second Problem Statement
The way of communication that we have got used to is changing and transforming every passing day, and Virtual Reality seems competitive enough to play a significant role in this transformation, maybe as a new communication medium in the future. However, we still have not a precise opinion about how the brands´ communication processes may be affected by this transformation and how the communication campaigns will be looked like according to the nature of VR.
1.5 THE SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This thesis study was conducted in six months of duration and includes both the theoretical and practical parts. The theoretical parts consist of the scientific pieces of literature collected from mostly peer-reviewed research papers (particularly Chapter I was formed based on solely peer-reviewed research papers). The practical parts include two case studies, each for a selected brand, i.e., Red Bull and IKEA, containing brand strategies, creative ideas, and advertising campaign prototypes. Additionally, the study evaluates the efficiency of the final campaign prototypes with the help of an assessment survey that adopts descriptive statistics conducted to a small sample group, i.e., randomly selected ten persons to observe the tendency of their opinions. From this angle, the study can be considered as the crossroad of four disciplines; psychology, virtual reality, communications, and in some cases, marketing. Furthermore, this study follows the guidelines of APA 7th Edition as the citation format of the references within its literature review.
This study compiles the findings regarding the effects of VR on three predetermined psychological elements, namely, emotions, sense of presence, and perception, while using some of these findings in favor of creating prospective brand communication campaign prototypes in VR. Since brand communication in VR is a reasonably new study field, campaign prototypes created under that section cannot go beyond being solely innovative individualistic approaches based on the existing scientific literature.
On the other hand, the study has diverse limitations, mostly based on external reasons throughout the preparation process. First of all, the study has some constraints based on its selected research nature. The secondary limitations can be mainly attributed to Germany's governmental regulations to fight the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, some technical restrictions of VR technology in the current technological climate and the high prices to access proper technical pieces of equipment to develop proper innovative prototypes step forth as tertiary and fourth limitations of the study.
The detailed list of limitations is given below:
The limitations that arise out of the exploratory research nature of the study:
- Even though the research's exploratory nature can approximate the researcher to the right way in finding the answer, the research nature is generally inconclusive.
- The well-known disadvantage of the exploratory research nature is to use usually qualitative data to come up with the conclusion. The interpretation of such information is typically known as based on subjective values. This limitation of the exploratory research nature was tried to be broken out by using a survey that uses quantitative descriptive statistics; nevertheless, since the survey data was also based on subjective values, this limitation cannot be considered as exceeded over.
- Since the exploratory nature of research includes smaller sample groups compared to other research natures, the results cannot be rightly attributed to the majority of the population.
- If the information is collected via secondary research just like this study did, in such cases, there is a risk for the data sets to be old and not being updated.
The limitations that arise out of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic:
Since this thesis study was being prepared along with the second wave of COVID-19 worldwide pandemic in Germany, some limitations have shown up based on the governmental regulations that affected both the data collection and data assessment process;
- During the governmental precautions of the second wave of the pandemic, the public spaces which are crucially important for a thesis period, such as the libraries, archives, universities (in this study´s case, also media labs), etc., were closed down. This situation directly changed the methods of reviewing sources and limited the scope of the study. Due to the sufficient number of sources available on the internet, the literature review part was successfully brought to be finished. Nevertheless, the study automatically has become deprived of physical sources based on such restrictions. Although the author tried to fill this gap by using his own physical resources (books, journals, etc.), this situation is still worth mentioning in terms of the limitations of the study.
- The assessment method for the campaign prototypes anticipated at the beginning of the study was to observe the participants while they are trying the prototypes under well-controlled laboratory conditions. However, based on the countrywide lockdown regulations, this intention could not become realized. Instead of this observation method based on the quantitative values, the prototypes were assessed based on a descriptive survey analysis which was conducted on random persons found in a few Virtual Reality communities on the Internet. This situation has automatically decreased the sample group's extent and limited the author to measure merely the tendency of the opinions regarding the efficiency of scientific elements in the prototypes. Although the author selected five persons in the sample group by his own resources and observed their experiences under his observation, this condition could not be applied to the rest of the sample group.
- Since the participants of the survey assessment chapter were primarily found on different Internet forums, their personal conditions, such as their approaches to the assessment, etc., could not be controlled by the author. This situation naturally harmed the scientific reliability of the assessment survey depending on there was no chance to know if they took the prototype trial and assessment survey steps seriously, in a way that as it should normally be.
The limitations that arise out of either the technical or other reasons:
- Two of the prototypes which this thesis study provides were produced in the format of 360VR video. In the current technological climate, producing 360VR videos with a decent resolution quality still comes forth as a problematic issue. Neither affordable 360 cameras' shooting capabilities nor the new generation VR glasses' high-resolution competencies cannot allow the producer to reach the resolution that we get used from high-quality displays yet with acceptable prices. The new generation VR glasses such as Oculus Quest 2 require a minimum of 5K to 8K resolution quality in 360 videos to be able to watch 360 videos in, at least, acceptable resolution quality. However, the prices of 360 cameras which are able to shoot 8K are unacceptably high to afford without any funding opportunities. Additionally, since the weights of those types of cameras are pretty high, they don't easily allow the producer to shoot smooth virtual journeys, which were the background ideas of the 360VR video contents in this study (in such scenarios, there is a need for more practical camera options to carry and control properly).
- The camera which has been utilized in this study to shoot brand communication campaign prototypes in 360VR video format allows a maximum of 5K resolution with pretty low FPS (frame per second) options. The FPS is also an important aspect to prevent motion sickness on the audience side in a VR content. Therefore, this study's prototypes were shot in 4K with 59 fps and 3K with 100 fps, which are not-bad resolution/frame rate balances for a 360VR video. Nevertheless, as estimated, even though such qualities are considered high for the flat screens, as soon as the contents turn into an equirectangular sphere form (the nature of a 360 video), the resolution quality was distorted and had a pixelated view. On the other hand, since the new generation VR glasses such as Quest 2 provide resolution options up to 8K, our prototypes' resolution qualities stayed under such new-generation VR devices´ threshold in terms of technical specifications. Even though the subjects have been told about this issue and asked to ignore the resolution quality element while assessing the inner elements of the experience, there is always a risk that this situation would affet their attitudes regarding the experience's internal elements.
- Since the file size of three prototypes together equates to approximately 20 GB, it was also a challenge for this thesis study in terms of transmitting the prototypes to the participants who were intended to fill in the survey. If ever the thesis study was conducted under the controlled laboratory conditions, preparing the VR headset ready along with the prototype files would not be a big issue. However, since most of the participants were found from different internet forums, it was hard to be sure about their facilities. In comparison with the number of members in those communities, very few persons have decided to download the prototypes and filled in the survey without manipulating intentions. Even though there was a .txt file along with the prototypes in the folder, which include clear instructions regarding how to open the prototypes, some of them still couldn't upload the prototypes to their VR devices successfully in order to try them. Such problems decreased the number of people more who achieved to join our sample group in evaluating of the prototypes.
- Concerning using a random sample group gathered through internet forums, reliability is also another issue that pops up as a limitation of the study. Generally, under the controlled laboratory environments, the potential problems that may harm the study's scientific reliability are worked to be minimized as much as possible. Nevertheless, since such control mechanisms are not possible through internet channels, the survey assessment's scientific reliability shines out another limitation of the study.
1.6 RESEARCH & TECHNICAL MATERIALS
This study benefits from both different scientific pieces of literature belonging to a range of disciplines (psychology, virtual reality, communications, marketing) and some technical materials to create the final prototypes. From the chronological angle, firstly, it collects and compiles the information from the psychology literature and analyzes them; secondly, it reaps the related information from the communication and marketing sources; thirdly, it ideates and strategizes campaign prototypes based on the collected data and analysis, and lastly, utilizes the technical materials in order to realize the prototypes. Therefore, it cannot be wrong to claim that this study initially gathers the data from various literature pieces and, in the last step, resort to the technical pieces of equipment to realize the ideated concepts.
Concerning the pieces of literature which have been used in this study, it won't be wrong to assert that approximately eighty-percent (%80) of the sources utilized in the scope of this study consist of peer-reviewed scientific papers. Primarily, the pieces of literature utilized throughout Chapter One were intentionally selected out of the peer-reviewed scientific articles and journals. Throughout the further chapters that necessitate using communication and marketing pieces of literature, the study similarly has used highly-reliable scientific sources such as articles and books; however, since the opinions from the sector professionals can also be considered equally important in this study´s working field, the study gave place to the sources from communication, marketing, and virtual reality sectors as well.
In the scope of this thesis study, scientific journals, scientific articles, books, newspapers, internet blogs were used as the primary data collection materials. Along with this study, Google Scholar, online platforms like Research Gate, Academia.edu, and online libraries of German universities were effectively utilized to reach the respective sources. Apart from that, a software called "Publish or Perish," which is an academic literature review software that enables the researcher to simultaneously review multiple online academic platforms, was also effectively used to reach the research materials. Additionally, the online catalogs of the university libraries in Germany were conspicuously helpful during the literature review phase of the study. Furthermore, online catalogs of German, British, Turkish, and French national libraries were combed over as well in order to find complementary scientific sources for the study.
In order to produce 360VR videos, Insta360 One X2 360-degree camera and Zoom H3-VR Ambisonic Voice recorder devices were being used. During the post-production phase of 360 videos, Adobe Premiere Pro, Da Vinci Resolve, 3DVista Virtual Tour software products were being used. In the RedBull´s Virtual Cycling Tour prototype, the video was rendered by using the After Codecs rendering plugin which supports 360VR video rendering settings. Since the IKEA brand's Virtual RoomReady Showroom needed two different post-production processes, firstly, it was rendered by Adobe Premiere Pro with the AfterCodecs plugin. Secondly, it was turned into an interactive virtual tour by using 3DVista Virtual Tour Software, which also supports watching videos on a variety of PC-based VR glasses. For the ones who cannot upload the virtual tour video into their VR glasses, the video was also uploaded to a free server by using the FTP uploading method as can be seen at “the read-me .txt” file within the respective project´ folder.
To produce an interactive VR game prototype, the author worked with a freelancer front/back-end developer based in India with the aim of clearing off the absence of coding and 3D design skills. The concept and the idea were told to the developer through a couple of video calls, and the directives regarding the prototype were provided to the coder along with storyboards and idea diagrams. As decided before, the assets and rigs were found by the author himself from the variety of online sources such as Unity Assets Store, free3d.com, etc., and combined under the Unity 3D Real-Time Development software. In the next step, the Unity file along with all the collected assets and rigs were provided to the developer and asked him to code the game prototype. The developer also added a couple of assets over the present assets and gave very useful recommendations to the author. The developer delivered the game prototype of the experience in two different formats which support both PC-Based and Android-Based VR glasses.
1.7 METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
This thesis study adopts a structured research design based on its scientific qualities. Even though this study also has parts that don't include scientific research elements, the general nature of this thesis necessitated a proper research design to reach its scientific aims predetermined before. Yet, what is a research design? This methodology chapter initially explains a scientific research design's general details step by step for those who have little or no knowledge regarding such steps. Afterward, it points up the research design of this study in both overall and chapter-based order.
In order to ensure a correct approach to such a ramous subject, a whole research order should have been initially designed chronologically in a proper manner. Starting with a research design allows a researcher to manage a topic's complicated structure, such as this study´s case, without overlooking the details. However, to be able to perform this, both the aims of the research and the problem statements should be specified (just we did) beforehand. Afterward, research questions should be formed initially. Still, this requirement mostly necessitates determining the "nature" of the research in advance since the question types are shaped according to the chosen nature. The researcher should adopt a specific nature for the study among three different research natures: exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory. Each of these three natures seeks an answer for its own question types, respectively: "what, how, and why" questions. Therefore, adopting one of them directly affects the specification of research questions. After deciding on the research nature, the research questions can be snugly clarified according to the predetermined nature's features.
Afterward, based on the research nature, a research approach should be chosen for the study. There are three research approaches that indicate different data evaluation processes. These research approaches are inductive, deductive, abductive. The inductive research approach follows a road from data to theories, while the deductive research approach does the exact opposite (from theories to the more specific conclusions). The Abductive research approach is not widely used as inductive and deductive, yet it departs from incomplete observations and ends up in the best possible prediction. As might be estimated, choosing a research approach may directly affect further steps such as methodology choosing and analysis methods in the research design. A research approach also affects the data sets' analysis methods, which will be used under the research methods.
After choosing an approach to the research, the next step should be to select a research methodology for specifying how to collect and evaluate the data utilized in the study. The research methodology typically consists of two methods: Qualitative and Quantitative. Both qualitative and quantitative methods refer to different sorts of data sets and various dissimilarities regarding data collection and analysis methods. Qualitative methodology mainly works on data sets measuring or measured by "the quality of phenomena" rather than the phenomena's quantity. On the other hand, quantitative methods concern quantity rather than quality. Alternatively, these two methods can also be utilized together in a study which is called mixed research methods, if such a usage addresses the research's subject well.
After successfully choosing the study's methodology, the whole research design process is completed by choosing an analysis method. The preferability of analysis methods should be identified linked to the chosen research methodology. Both the qualitative and quantitative methods have their own analysis methods for the data sets. Analysis methods of the research methodologies enable the researcher to analyze data sets according to the chosen methodology. There are numerous analysis methods in the literature that should be searched and identified well before completing a study's research design. Since the fate of data sets´ interpretation and assessment processes hang on the analysis method selected, the most appropriate analysis methods should be chosen, which fit well with the study's aims and questions. For example, based on its entire research design, this study has chosen thematic analysis, case study analysis, and quantitative survey analysis, which will be explained in a more detailed manner in the following paragraphs (see: Figure 1.2 - Entire research design of the study).
Figure 1.2 : The Research Design of The Study
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
This thesis study has consisted of mainly two different main parts: both theoretical and practical chapters. Since this thesis's subject necessitates distinctive approaches based on its comprehensiveness, the study's nature had been specified in a way that aids in fulfilling such expectations. Rather than selecting one research methodology and one specific nature, the study found it more suitable to simultaneously benefit from different research methodologies. Thus, the study seized a chance to deeply examine the subject from different aspects by utilizing multiple research methodologies.
As a first step, the exact nature of research had been clarified to ensure consistency in the scientific method used throughout the studies. Among the three different research nature options (exploratory, descriptive, explanatory), a particular nature should have been selected with the aim of ensuring the accuracy of further methods. To ask the "What" question is the exclusive attribute of Exploratory research nature in order to explore the elements between numerous data sets and reap the information properly. Additionally, in the name of exploring specific information among huge data sets, the exploratory nature of research is the right choice. Since this thesis´ aims and questions correspond well with this nature, exploratory nature seemed entirely appropriate in the theoretical part's necessities.
However, this study's assessment part should have required to become managed with different approaches. The study's assessment part was addressing more to the "how" question rather than a "what" question. Since we need to evaluate the campaign prototype's efficiency at the end, we were required to seek an answer to the "how" question. Therefore, two research natures were adopted for this study. Firstly, to collect data and use them for creating campaigns, "the exploratory research nature" was utilized. Secondly, for evaluating the efficiency of some scientific findings over campaign prototypes throughout an assessment survey, "the descriptive research nature" was chosen. This decision naturally has influenced the study's entire research design, and the further elements of the research design had been shaped according to this decision.
The next step was to choose an approach to the research. Laconically, the inductive and deductive research approaches are opposed to each other in strict lines. Therefore, to adopt one of them directly affects further decisions such as scientific methodology and analysis methods and affects the way that how a researcher would apply that particular methodology to the research as well. Based on the "from data to theory" attitude, the inductivity was a suitable research approach for our research topic with an exploratory nature. The inductive research approach would have provided many more benefits to the research than other research approaches in the name of departing from specific information to arrive at general innovative solutions.
Right after choosing an approach style, the turn has come to choose a simple research method for our study. Should the study have benefited from quantitative methods or qualitative methods? It was an important decision because the analysis methods that we choose in the next step are grounded on the research methodology that the study had adopted. As qualitative methods examine relationships between entities, quantitative methods examine relationships among variables (Yilmaz, 2013). Since this study has been adopted the philosophy of compiling the effects of VR usage on three phenomena of the human mind, researching the variables and trying to match them based on their relationships were perfectly suited to this philosophy. Therefore, the qualitative methods came in sight as the most suitable research methodology for this study.
Nevertheless, due to the multiple nature of the thesis, to use solely qualitative methods would have been incompetent to fulfill the needs of the assessment survey's quantitative interpretations, which takes place in chapter six. Therefore, it was decided to choose Mixed Research Methods as the primary methodology of the research. Thereby the study could have evaluated the benefits of two different methods, both qualitative and quantitative, in order to both collect and decently analyze data sets. In pursuit of this decision, chapters between one-to-five (1-5) have utilized qualitative methods in order to collect data and understand the relationships between them easily. In contrast, Chapter Six benefitted quantitative methods due to its quantitative assessment nature.
In order to provide clarity in the interpretation and analysis of data sets, different analysis methods were used for varied chapters throughout the study. During the determination process of the right analysis methods, whether the analysis method selected is suitable to the predetermined research methodologies was taken into account. For instance, Chapter One utilized qualitative analysis methods in order to examine and see the relations between data sets, while quantitative analysis methods were used for Chapter Six.
For Chapter One, the thematic analysis method was considered an appropriate analysis method. Chapter One has an exploratory research nature and utilizes an inductive approach to collect and interpret data sets. From this angle, the chapter was necessitating to choose an analysis method that corresponds well with these research design elements. Furthermore, the research aim specified for this chapter had called for a crosscheck between three different phenomena of the human mind (in this case, themes) and meanings in order to understand the relationship between them. Thematic Analysis is one of the most widely used analysis methods which falls into the qualitative researches. It accentuates analyzing, recognizing, and deciphering tracts of meanings (or "themes") in the scope of qualitative data (Braun, 2006). This technique can accentuate both organization and rich depiction of the data set, and theoretically fed expositions regarding the meaning (ibid.). Thematic Analysis is utilized in qualitative research methods and spotlights on analyzing themes or tracts of meaning within particular data sets (Daly, 1997). Overall, the thematic analysis came one step further than other qualitative research analysis methods in terms of suiting the chapter's aims. Owing to its attributes that enable to appraise different themes simultaneously, choosing thematic analysis enabled the chapter to realize their research goals in a planned way.
Chapters two and three collect data sets from the communications and marketing literature in order to lay them bare for the reader's information. They manage this purpose without undertaking a particular analysis method. As can be seen from the research design, these chapters benefit from qualitative research methods in collecting data sets. Understanding Chapter Five (the chapter that aims to strategize and ideate brand communication campaigns from scratch for Ikea and Red Bull brands predetermined before) necessitates a general knowledge of the concepts and terminology in the brand communication phenomenon. Therefore, Chapter Two takes on the mission of clarifying some necessary concepts regarding brand communication study discipline in order to prevent any possible misunderstandings in Chapter Five.
Chapter Three also benefit from qualitative research methodology in order to collect its data sets. However, Chapter Three's distinction is to discuss Virtual reality technology's qualities in terms of the likelihood to be the next communication medium. The background aim of this purpose is to open an argument regarding VR's exact place on the track of turning into the next communication system based on the qualitative findings. It supports this hypothesis by giving examples from the communication sector related to the successful implementation of VR as a communication medium. This chapter also aspires to make the reader contemplate VR as a communication medium before encountering its usage as a communication medium in the scope of chapter four.
Chapter Five distinguishes from chapters two and three in many respects. This chapter acts as the beginning chapter of the practical part of the study, and it focuses on taking a more in-depth look into a company profile and its communication needs. This chapter follows the typical communication campaign creation process, starting with market research and ending up with creative ideation. From this angle, chapter five can be considered as an implementation section that adopts typical communication agency steps. More specifically, this chapter analyzes the company, its target group, and its communication interests under the case study analysis. It thereby tailors a proper strategy that aids them to survive in the world of VR by utilizing brand communication principles. However, this chapter also includes three different theories inside, which were dug out from the communication and marketing literature. The chapter uses these theories in the name of strengthening the campaign strategy process to build the campaigns created on solid ground. This approach is based on the idea that competing in a totally new communication medium may require remembering the discipline's very basics.
Since the fifth chapter owns a different structure than the previous chapters and corresponds with dissimilar questions compared to those chapters, another analysis method was necessary rather than thematic analysis. In such a climate, the chapter's requisites have been reviewed again and decided on an appropriate analysis method within qualitative methodologies; "the business case study analysis." According to the University of Potsdam guidelines, case studies are acknowledged as one of the influential ways of exposing students to a decision-making process. (Rasche, 2014) Fundamentally, cases in this analysis method stand for some detailed illustrations or statements of real business problems. Cases generally include qualitative and quantitative data that the researcher simultaneously analyzes and comes up with convenient alternatives or solutions. This chapter's aim was already to depart from the company and its place in the market to arrive at the solutions, in this case, a VR campaign strategy. Therefore, the case study analysis method was chosen as the primary analysis method for chapter five as it would directly cover all the necessities of the chapter.
All the research design steps that belong to the qualitative research methods had been covered until now. Yet, it should not be forgotten that there is also a quantitative part of the study. This study also contains an assessment part that measures the efficiency of the psychological scientific elements used within the designed campaigns in the scope of Chapter Six. This assessment section conducts a survey that uses quantitative descriptive statistics on a control group intending to have an idea regarding the efficiency of the elements used within the campaign prototypes. Due to the quantitative data utilization in this chapter, there was a necessity for a transition between the research methods here, i.e., from qualitative analysis to quantitative analysis. For this reason, the "quantitative survey analysis" method from quantitative research methods was selected to analyze the quantitative data sets that had been acquired from the assessments.
A descriptive analysis is a significant step for conducting a statistical analysis. It can give the researcher an idea regarding the data distribution, while helping to determine outliers and typos. It also facilitates the identification of associations among variables. Briefly, it helps to define, indicate, or summarize data significantly such that, for example, patterns may arise from that particular data (Laerd, 2018). Yet, descriptive statistics do not let us perform conclusions beyond the analyzed data, or reach outcomes regarding any hypotheses we might have created.
Since Chapter Five only includes the images of the prototypes created along with the descriptions of the scientific findings adopted, it was not explicitly mentioned in the scope of this methodology subchapter. Overall, the aforementioned research design shapes the inner nature of this study's chapters and affects their ways of collecting and assessing particular data sets. Every chapter serves its own purposes pursuant to the research design and all together formed this study's entirety by aiming to fulfill the research aims stated in this Introduction chapter.
2.0 CHAPTER ONE: EFFECTS OF VR ON USER PSYCHOLOGY
VR technology is an uttermost efficient medium that is able to leave one-of-a-kind effects on its users' psychology based on its overly immersive structure. As the VR medium becomes more mainstream, the number of scientific studies investigating such impacts has increased simultaneously. Some recent studies have revealed that VR usage can have both long-term and short-term effects on users. Such studies also have raised questions regarding the ethics of VR and possible public health issues and inquired the necessity of bringing usage regulations to preserve users' mental health. One of the key studies among such research papers in the literature belongs to Madary et al. (2016), which also reveals the effects of VR by providing competent scientific experiments and discusses such effects under the topic of ethics in VR. Even though this thesis study's scope has no concern with such questions or the long-short term effects of VR, it still takes the study of Madary et al. (2016) as the background of this chapter. The primary reason for selecting this study is that the study's scientific significance in terms of giving place to the different effects of VR in the same study with competitive experiments.
According to Madary et al. (2016), VR technology will ultimately alter not only our common perception of humanity but also our mentality regarding some deeply settled notions, such as “conscious experience,” “selfhood,” “authenticity,” or “realness” (Madary et al., 2016). Moreover, VR also has the capacity to convert the structure of our physical-world while bringing completely new forms of everyday social interactions. Just as the effects of digitalization over both individual and communal life, virtual reality may come up with some effects in life that includes advantages and risky disadvantages together. For O’Brolcháin et al. (2016), immersive VR opens a road to novel and histrionic ways of breaking our settled relationships with the "real" world. In other words, this may mean that more immersiveness in the VR products, more disengagement than the reality. In such a case, the necessity of bringing some precautions should be considered to prevent users from possible adverse effects.
Another raising issue would be the subject of illusions of embodiment. The illusion of embodiment can be defined as a feeling of being embodied other than in one's real physical body (Petkova & Ehrsson, 2008; Slater et al., 2010). Such illusions can occur in VR by immersing via an avatar with a different size, age, or skin color. However, this topic is considered controversial since there is still insufficient knowledge and studies regarding the illusion of embodiment and its possible risks that the user may encounter during the experience or thereafter. Even though the studies regarding the illusion of embodiment in classical psychology can be evaluated in this context, there is a fact that traditional paradigms in experimental psychology cannot stimulate illusions as strong as VR technology can do (Madary et al., 2016). From this angle, further research may be required here in order to enlighten illusions of the embodiment phenomenon in VR. Nonetheless, according to the authors, it is frequently observed that VR technology induces illusions of embodiment on users' side in some cases.
On the other hand, human behavior can be severely affected by exterior elements, although the individual cannot even notice their impacts whatsoever. This outcome is one of the main findings that modern experimental psychology had revealed in the last century via various experiments. (Madary et al., 2016) "Behavior is context-sensitive, and the mind is plastic," states Madary et al. (2016) in their respective article. Such that it is capable of being continuously shaped and re-shaped by a host of causal factors. (ibid.) This fact is crucially important in this study since, especially in this chapter, the focus point is how the human mind may be affected by the elements of VR.
Virtual reality technology presents a completely different sort of environment, "a novel cognitive and cultural niche." Given its abilities and endless possibilities in designing a new "reality," it should be considered a decisive external factor. A phenomenological structure like the human mind which can be influenced so much by even the simple incidents that it encounters in daily life, can be easily failed to endure elements of virtual incidents, while it is immersed in a completely virtual environment. As touched upon in the introduction chapter, virtual reality provides a potent virtual world, a world that has the potential to be stronger than our reality based on its limitless features. In the circumstances of being fully immersed in such a virtual environment, it should be out of the question to think that the primitive human mind can manage such a rich environment well without getting affected by it in the short or long run.
Returning to the risks of VR technology after mentioning its potency, as can be seen, it is possible to observe a variety of effects and potential risks in this matter. However, Madary et al. (2016) elucidate two significant dangers of Virtual Reality in their study, which are closely related to the effects we will focus on in this study. Firstly, VR's potential for deep behavioral manipulation thanks to the offerings of this technology's features. Secondly, the issue of direct UI (Unit of identification) manipulation. Regardless of being physical or virtual, human behavior is derived from socially contextualized and settled learnings and feelings throughout the person's life (Madary et al., 2016). Therefore, behavioral traits can be easily reshaped and guided in well-impinging environments with different stimuli (external manipulation). Above all, VR offers a condition that the user’s whole territory is specified and created by the designers of the particular virtual world, including "social hallucination" risks stimulated by advanced avatar technology nowadays as well. This is a trait that other technological mediums cannot provide at all. From this aspect, it may not be surprising that if VR is more manipulative than other media formats that have been invented until now. Moreover, it should be remembered that a virtual world designed by third persons can be edited swiftly and smoothly with the aim of affecting perception and behavior (Madary et al., 2016).
On the other hand, the plasticity of the mind is not restricted to behavioral traits. Embodiment illusions are likely since the mind is cheatable to such an extent that leads it to misinterpret its own embodiment. Unambiguously, an illusion of embodiment can occur from solely an ordinary brain activity, and this does not necessarily mean some biological alterations in fundamental neural structure (Madary et al., 2016). These sorts of illusions can show themselves intrinsically in dreams, phantom-limb experiences, out-of-body experiences, and Body-Integrity-Identity disorder (Brugger et al., 2000; Metzinger, 2009; Hilti et al., 2013; Ananthaswamy, 2015; Windt, 2015). These illusions occasionally contain an alteration in, called, the phenomenal “unit of identification (UI)” in consciousness research (Metzinger, 2013), the conscious content that we perceive as “ourselves.” In the opinion of Madary et al. (2016), this can be the most profound theoretical reason that tells us why we should especially be careful about the psychological effects of VR technology; since this technology is unmatched in terms of targeting and manipulating the UI (selfhood) itself on our mind (ibid.).
The comprehensive character of VR plus the potential for the global control of experiential content introduces opportunities for new and especially powerful forms of both mental and behavioral manipulation, especially when commercial, political, religious, or governmental interests are behind the creation and maintenance of the virtual worlds (Madary et al. 2016).
As the second risk, direct UI Manipulation refers basically to manipulating the perception of "selfhood" in the human mind. UI (Unit of Identification) usage corresponds here to the experiential content of "Selfhood" (Madary et al., 2016). However, Madary et al. (2016) note that UI should not necessarily be equated with the context of the conscious body image or a specialized region for it. This term also refers to the individuals' perceptional understanding regarding his/her selfhood. When it comes to human beings, the UI is highly changeable and dynamic. In his study, Metzinger (2013) states about UI following:
There exists a minimal UI, which likely is constituted by pure Spatio-temporal self-location, and in some configurations (e.g., “being one with the world”), there is also a maximal UI, likely constituted by the most general phenomenal property available, namely, the integrated nature of phenomenally (Metzinger, 2013).
Several studies discovered some traces concerning VR's psychological influence on users while they were completely immersed in a virtual medium in recent years. However, one of the beneficial results in this context started with an old study known as the virtual pit (Meehan et al., 2002). In this study, participants were given a head-mounted display that heads them to become immersed in a designed virtual environment where they were standing at the very edge of an abyssal pit. In one part of the experiment, participants were instructed to bend over to the edge, and right after, drop a beanbag on a target marked at the bottom of the pit. In the meantime, the participant was standing on the protrusion of a wooden platform in the lab that emplaced on 1.5" height from the ground in order to increase the illusion of standing at the edge. Even though participants thought they were not in any kind of danger since the pit was only virtual, they showed signs and reactions of increased stress through increased heart rate and skin conductance (Meehan et al., 2002; Madary et al., 2016). As another variation of this study can be mentioned from one another experiment stated by Blascovich et al. (2011), known as "virtual beam." Participants in this experiment were instructed to walk over a virtual beam, while a real wooden beam was placed where subjects see the virtual beam in the virtual environment. This version of the pit experiment was achieved successfully to lead a strong level of stress and fear as well (Blascovich et al., 2011; Madary et al., 2016).
Some well-known traditional experiments can also be successfully repeated in a VR environment. Milgram's experiment is one of the key experiments in social psychology conducted by psychologist Stanley Milgram from Yale University, who tests the subjects' level of obedience to authority figures (Milgram, 1963). This experiment was redesigned again in VR and discovered that participants behaved as though the shocks administered were real, although they were in the opinion that the tasks were solely virtual and not real (Slater et al., 2006; Madary et al., 2016).
On the other hand, it would seem that emotional responses during the immersion are not the solitary traces of VR usage. There are also some proofs that Virtual reality experiences may also affect the behavioral reactions of users (Madary et al., 2016). The Proteus Effect, coined by Nick Yee and Jeremy Bailenson, is an instance of this category. Briefly, this term can be described as a tendency of users to become influenced by their digital portrayals (Yee & Bailenson, 2007). These digital portrayals can be their avatars, dating platform profiles, or just social network personas. Human behavior can be affected by their digital portrayals as an external factor. For instance, a user who created a warrior avatar in a particular game can show a tendency to behave bravely during the game. Moreover, these sorts of behavioral traits sometimes can exceed the gaming experience and overflow to real life. This overflow is also evaluated in the Proteus Effect's scope (Yee & Bailenson, 2007).
An alternative description for the appearing point of the Proteus Effect can be “conforming to the behavior that the individual believe others would expect them to have” based on the appearance of their avatar (Madary et al., 2016; Yee & Bailenson, 2007, p. 274; Kilteni et al., 2013). Yee & Bailenson (2007) found that the participants who were immersed in the virtual world with a taller avatar compared to other avatars showed a tendency to negotiate more aggressively than participants with shorter avatars. Furthermore, according to Madary et al. (2014), this context (behavioral alterations in VR) is expected to be an ethical concern because it can cause severe consequences for "non-virtual physical lives." Some possible situations for this consideration may be the possibility of making financial transactions that take place in a non-physical environment (virtual environment).
A more beneficial issue regarding behavioral effects is a finding that behavioral traits shown in a virtual environment can have long-lasting psychological impacts even after participants come back to the real world (Madary et al., 2016). Following a particular study, the subjects who were immersed in a virtual world with avatars that look like older versions of themselves start to separate more money for their retirement after leaving that virtual environment (Hershfield et al., 2011; Madary et al., 2016). Similarly, Rosenberg et al. (2013) had conducted a study that enabled the subjects to perform different missions in a virtual city map. In this virtual city, the participants were allowed to fly upon the buildings, either driving a helicopter or just by using their bodies. This study showed that the participants who were given the ability to fly (superpower) have started to show unselfish behavioral traits unwittingly. For instance, some of them who were immersed as superheroes in the experiment had assisted an experimenter in picking up spilled pens after the virtual experience, etc. (Rosenberg et al., 2013).
Similarly, Yoon & Vargas (2014) came up with the same outcome, even though they were not using fully immersive VR technology. In the experiment, subjects were allowed to play a video game as either "a superhero, a supervillain, or a neutral control avatar." After the gaming experience, the subjects were assigned to a tasting mission, which they were told that the tasting task was entirely unlinked to the gaming experience. The participants were given two eatable options: chocolate or chili sauce and asked to determine the amount of food for the next random subject who will come after the present subject. The subjects who played a hero in the game poured more chocolate into the bowl, while subjects who played villains decided to pour more chili sauce into the bowl (Yoon & Vargas, 2014; Madary et al., 2016).
The long-lasting psychological impact of immersive VR was also examined in another particular investigation. This research was the racial prejudices test that has been conducted by Peck et al. (2013), and the subjects were tested both three days before and right after the immersion experiment. In the experiment, the subjects found themselves in the virtual world with different sorts of avatars such as light-skinned, dark-skinned, purple-skinned, or also without a body. The comparison of the results before and after the experiment showed that subjects who were embodied in the dark-skinned avatar had demonstrated a decrease in their implicit racial prejudices, at least for a temporary period (Peck et al., 2013; Madary et al. 2013). In respect thereof, when considering the level of immersiveness between today’s head-mounted displays and the technology present in 2013, it can be asserted that the period of becoming influenced may be more prolonged in today’s technological conditions.
Given the overall information above, it should be considered that virtual reality technologies, especially considering the form in which it has been taken in the last decade, can have different sorts of effects on human psychology. This technology can affect the human mind in terms of many aspects, such as creating emotional and perceptional changes to a possible extent. This efficiency undoubtedly brings some risks that need to be managed well; however, it can also bring some advantages if such effects are utilized for decent purposes. Most importantly, it can provide us with an opportunity to get closely acquainted with human psychology by observing it in a virtual world. Since it offers a chance to get to know human psychology and its elements better, it can also enable discoverings regarding developing novel "communication" ways between individuals. Moreover, Virtual Reality itself may turn into a communication medium and provide new forms of social interactions while enabling effective interpersonal communications based on its overly immersive structure.
VR technologies may have the capacity to turn into the most effective social medium that human beings have been ever invented. As it develops more and becomes more mainstream, new studies might reveal this powerful technology's undiscovered sides. Due to the numerous possibilities it provides, new communication methods can be developed, and new solutions to reach colleagues, friends, customers may be discovered. Furthermore, if the effects of VR are going to be understood well, efficient virtual environments can be designed with the aim of enhancing the interaction and engagement levels of users. However, in order to reach all of these goals, initially, the impacts of the VR medium over its users should be analyzed and be grasped as much as possible by observers and researchers. Thereby, possible undesirable effects can be minimized, and the focus point can be shifted to the advantages and fruitful usage ways of VR.
In this chapter, the focus point is on three different phenomena of the human mind that can closely match with the qualities of a successful experience in VR. These three themes are mainly: emotions, sense of presence, and perception. Throughout the chapter, the impacts of VR over these three notions are presented by compiling the various research papers in the literature. These effects are examined under different theme-based subchapters aiming to discover their elements properly by focusing on a great deal of literature. The aim is to manifest significant findings regarding these three themes related to human psychology affected by VR based on solely peer-reviewed, reliable literature. In the discussion subchapter, all the data collected under the umbrella of these three themes are analyzed based on the Thematic Analysis regulations via MAXQDA Software. In that analysis, the relationship between them is managed to be understood. Lastly, the findings will be presented once again in a tabular format as "concluding remarks" in order to enable the reader to make a crosscheck between findings and the page numbers. These findings will be used later in order to increase the efficiency of brand communication campaign prototypes which will have been produced in the scope of chapter five.
2.2 EFFECTS OF VR ON EMOTIONS
Emotions play a significant role in forming our conscious experiences regarding the outer world. They can also be considered as meaningful reflections of the incidents which are occurred in the physical world into our inner world. However, even though emotions play an active part in many points of human beings' lives, they can still be accepted as one of the least comprehended enigmas of human experience, which await to be discovered more (Riva et al., 2007). According to Riva et al. (2007), despite the significant role of emotions to attribute meanings to daily life experiences, emotions in mediated experiences have not been adequately investigated yet. Furthermore, emotions are enormously efficient factors for users to feel themselves "present" in a media environment. It is possible to find many studies that have already confirmed the capability of movies, TV programs, imagery techniques, and some virtual scenes to evoke media consumers' emotions (Riva et al., 2007). Such that, a study by Mauss et al. (2005) demonstrated that movies are impactful in raising emotional, behavioral, and physiological reactions to a degree related to the content of the movie being watched. These results should not have been a surprise for the consumers of TV medium, who have been mingling with TV for a long time, since the TV's effects over emotional reactions are also easily observed by consumers themselves. However, the results are beneficial from the point of proving these mediums' efficiency scientifically in causing some dynamic changes in terms of emotional reactions.
On the other side, emotions are essential elements for human beings to shape their values and make their decisions. The exact place of emotions in the decision-making process has been researched for centuries and gained momentum in the last decades (Lerner, Li, Valdesolo, & Kassam, 2015; Susindar et al., 2019). In some cases, different emotions have been deliberately evoked with the aim of investigating their effects on decision-making. Most of the studies that pursue this goal utilize some traditional emotion stimulation techniques (showing some films and pictures) to evoke emotional responses preternaturally. As mentioned before, it is already clear that movies and imagery techniques are efficient emotion stimulators on their own. Nevertheless, with the emergence of advanced multisensory head-mounted displays, Virtual reality looks like a more prominent candidate to substitute these alternatives. By usage of Virtual reality, it is possible to evoke emotional reactions more smoothly and maybe confidingly compared to traditional mediums through the designing of more immersive and well-controlled virtual environments (e.g., Baños, Liaño, Botella, Alcañiz, Guerrero, & Rey, 2006; Riva et al., 2007; Orefice, Ammi, Hafez, & Tapus, 2017).
The VR environments are reported in evoking negative emotions, specifically fear and fear-related responses, in different ways. The venture of eliciting negative feelings in a virtual environment is closely related to the notion of "mood state-dependent memory." This term implies that "what one remembers during a given mood is determined in part by what one learned (or focused on) when previously in that mood" (Blaney 1986, p. 229). This effect of VR is particularly useful for primarily clinical usage, for example, exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a mental therapy method that gives the patient a way to face his/her fears, phobias, etc., in a designed clinical environment (Gromer et al., 2018). A recovery in disorder is expected based on the usage of such encounterings conducted in the therapy. Patients who suffer from specific phobias such as spider phobia (due to animal kind), claustrophobia (situation-based phobias) are especially vulnerable to the exposures concerning perceptual and emotional hints (Diemer et al., 2015). From this angle, it is easy to predict that VR technology can be a potent stimulator considering its high-level immersiveness, in terms of providing a specifically designed virtual environment for evoking those particular phobias (e.g., putting a spider in a virtual environment for arachnophobia patients aiming to enable them being exposed to their phobias).
On the other hand, an individual's emotional states can influence his/her decision-making process by affecting their information processing techniques, probability predictions, and risk-taking behavior (Susindar et al., 2019). In some studies, anger has been proved to make individuals more open-minded about risk evaluation and reveal a risk-seeking behavior (Lerner & Keltner, 2001). Nevertheless, an individual who experiences “fear-esque emotions” tends to demonstrate pessimistic evaluations regarding the respective risk and be hesitant to adopt more risk-taking behaviors (ibid.). Human beings encounter many situations that require them to take some risks in everyday life. For instance, buying a new unknown brand can be considered a risk-taking behavior for a customer (Boz & Taşkın, 2019). In such a case, it can be suggested that, based on the study, a brand which aspires to sell their products to a customer group should be careful to avoid evoking remarkable fear-esque emotions in the customer's mind.
In the study of Susindar et al. (2019), they hypothesized that decision-making behaviors could appear more strongly in a virtual environment, just because of VR’s conspicuous efficiency to trigger human emotions more smoothly. The results that they had obtained satisfied their expectations. In the experiment, they tried to elicit emotions by using both VR and traditional desktop virtual displays and compared the results of these two mediums accordingly. Precisely tailored scenarios to arouse emotions due to the nature of the selected mediums were adopted. The effects of target emotions(fear-anger) over decision-making behavior were more powerful in a VR medium compared to traditional desktop virtual conditions (ibid.). According to the collected data, the emotional responses were exaggerated when the VR system was utilized as an inducing medium (Susindar et al., 2019). The risk-taking behavior was observed in high-correlation with former studies regarding the impact of fear and anger over decision-making (Lerner & Keltner, 2001; Susindar et al., 2019). However, it should be taken into account that the subject group of the study was not big enough to give a high percentage to the reliability of the results1 (Susindar et al., 2019).
Another example of the negative emotions elicited by virtual reality is the study of Gromer et al., 2018 examined verbal and behavioral fear responses stimulated by a height simulation in a five (5)-sided cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE) with both visual and acoustic simulation. They experimented with acrophobia disorder (fear of heights) by using a virtual height environment setting to understand whether acrophobic patients' fears were stimulated in a virtual height set-up just like they are affected in the physical world. The results clearly showed that both the CAVE and Virtual Environments are strongly effective in arousing self-reported fear, anxiety, and avoidance behavior subject to a feature of acrophobia.
Emotions are frequently classified due to dimensions like valence (positive or negative emotions), arousal (whether the energy is high or low), certainty (whether evoking a feeling of certainty or uncertainty regarding future outcomes) (Russell, 1980; Schwarz & Clore, 1983; Lerner & Keltner, 2001; Lerner et al., 2015; Susindar et al., 2019). Thanks to this multidimensional structure, various emotion models have been developed, just as “the valence arousal model,” which classifies the diversity of emotions as linear functions of valence and arousal (see: Figure 2.1) (Russell, 1980; Yu et al., 2016). According to the statement of Susindar et al. (2019), this model asserts that emotions that are closer to each other on a particular scale might have similar impacts on the behaviors of a person. Nevertheless, the same is not valid for decision-making mechanisms. Observed emotions settled on the same scale demonstrate adverse effects on decision-making. Both anger and fear are, in fact, negative valence emotions, yet might have favorable impacts on risk-taking behaviors. The anger emotion was proved to improve the possibility of adopting a risk-taking behavior, while the fear restrains risk-taking behavior (Lerner & Keltner, 2001; Susindar et al., 2019).
In case of risk-taking behavior is evaluated as a good human feature, the advantage of evoking anger emotions to reach risk-taking behaviors is blindingly apparent. Therefore, it can be claimed that even though this emotion seems “negative” at first glance, it does not necessarily mean that the effects of that emotion should also be "negative." In the study, the findings' interpretation also indicates that some negative emotions can provide remarkable results to set the user into motion, which is a similar commentary to this attitude (Susindar et al., 2019).
Figure 2.1 : A Detailed Emotional Valence Arousal Model
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Note. More detailed Valence-Arousal Model. Reprinted from Building Chinese Affective Resources in Valence-Arousal Dimensions, by Yu et al., 2016. DOI: 10.18653/v1/N16-1066
Alexander et al. (2005) asserted that one prerequisite of knowledge and skill transfer within simulations and virtual environments is "psychological fidelity." Psychological fidelity can be described as “the degree to which the simulation replicates the psychological emotion-related factors (i.e., stress, fear) experienced in the real-world environment ” (Alexander et al. 2005; Lipp et al., 2020). Ensuring psychological fidelity offers benefits that incite users to join and become emotionally immersed (Brackney and Priode, 2017; Lipp et al., 2020). By this means, the levels of engagement and interactivity of the VR experience perceived by users are automatically increased. Therefore, there is a probability that virtual environments are psychologically competent enough in comparison with physical world experiences in causing "meaningful engagement" for users (Lipp et al., 2020).
Furthermore, experiencing fear in VR might cause an increased "sense of presence" rate since the experienced emotional responses increase the experience's perceived realism level (Gromer et al., 2018). A significant factor that supports the ability of VR to evoke fear is the concept of presence (Riva et al., 2015; Gromer et al., 2018). While some researchers argue that anxiety actually causes the higher sense of presence levels (Bouchard et al., 2008), others assert that higher levels of presence can improve the level of anxiety felt in Virtual Environments (Peperkorn et al., 2015; Gromer et al., 2018), and still, some others discuss a reciprocal relation among presence and anxiety (Gromer et al., 2018; Robillard et al., 2003).
1 Susindar et al. (2019) states about this limitation that: "A greater number of participants is needed to be able to assess the subjective responses on the PANAS-X with statistical analysis"