Immersive Virtual Environment Technology (IVET) is an innovative new research tool in the area of behavioral science. The RIVERlab at Nijmegen is one of the first high-end IVET labs in Europe dedicated to behavioral science research.

The labs are equipped with a sophisticated computer, utilizing high-end stereoscopic video processors, projection, and tracking systems to create immersive, three-dimensional, computer generated environments. A virtual environment can be defined as synthetic sensory information that leads to perceptions of environments and their contents as if they were not synthetic. An immersive virtual environment completely surrounds an individual (see Blascovich, Loomis, Beall, Swinth, Hoyt, & Bailenson, 2001).

In such an environment, immersion can be seen as a psychological state in which the individual perceives herself or himself to be part of, and interacting with an environment that provides a continuous stream of stimuli that seem to replace “real life”. Unlike “real life”, these environments are subject to perfect experimental control. Using virtual environments, highly controlled experiments can be performed to test theories and relations between psychological, physiological, and behavioral variables that are difficult or even impossible to test in “real life”.

Research Project Examples

  • Prejudice, personal distance, and psychophysics
  • Prejudice and imitation
  • Social anxiety and personal distance
  • Spider phobia in VR
  • Chronic fatigue in VR
  • Trait inferences based on facial features
  • Prejudice and perspective taking
  • Attractiveness and personal distance
  • Dynamics of dyadic behavior
  • Embodiment of power
  • Socially interactive robotics
  • Fathers in VR
  • Out of body experiences