Validating a Conceptual Model of Spatial Presence to Enhance Virtual Reality Applications for Older and Younger Adults

Wendy A. Rogers
Sean A. McGlynn

Virtual reality (VR) have a variety of applications with the potential to enhance life across physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional domains. The defining characteristic of virtual reality is its ability to induce within the user a 'sense of being' physically located in the technology-mediated environment. This experience is referred to as spatial presence. Research has shown that virtual reality applications such as entertainment, physical and therapeutic interventions, social interaction, and training tend to be more effective and enjoyable when users experience spatial presence in the virtual environment. However, the research in this area focuses primarily on the qualities of the VR system that influence spatial presence. The user characteristics that influence the likelihood of experiencing spatial presence and the nature of those influences are not well-understood. One such characteristic is the age of the user, as some sensory, physical, and cognitive abilities tend to undergo changes in older age. Our current study aims to validate a conceptual model of spatial presence in virtual reality with an emphasis on potential age-related differences in if/how the 'sense of being' is formed and maintained. Findings will provide insights into designing virtual reality experiences that incease their effectiveness for users of various ages.