Developing virtual reality and computer screen experiments one to one using selective attention as a case study

Research output: Working paperPreprintResearch

Designing cognitive experiments that allow for meaningful comparisons between different types of displays presents significant challenges. In the current study, we successfully implemented a number of solutions to conduct a virtual reality (VR) selective attention experiment with a personal computer (PC) control condition. We focused on three aspects: input hardware, multisensory experience and the perceived output, which have posed difficulties in previous research. Input hardware pertains to how users interact with the displays, multisensory experience involves the integration of senses within the experiment, and perceived output concerns the software configurations ensuring visually equivalent scenarios. A multisensory selective attention paradigm for six-seven-year-old children was developed for VR and PC environments. We found no evidence of differences in experienced task difficulty and participant distraction measured as off-task behaviours between the conditions. However, the overall reaction time was faster for the PC control condition than the VR but this reaction time difference is unlikely to impact cognitive effects of interest. There was no evidence to suggest different multisensory attentional processing between the two conditions. We demonstrate a robust approach for effectively minimising and controlling confounding technological variables inherent in the disparities between VR and PC conditions. Practical guidance for future development of PC control conditions for VR studies are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2023

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Attention, Cognitive psychology, Developmental guidelines, Guidelines, Methodological control, PC, Selecive attention, Software development, Virtual reality, VR


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