Virtual reality as a communication medium: a comparative study of forced compliance in virtual reality versus physical world

Virtual Real. 2021 Aug 21;1-21. doi: 10.1007/s10055-021-00564-9. Online ahead of print.


There are reasons to consider virtual reality (VR) as a newly arrived communication medium that ought to be differentiated from all other forms of mediated communication, since it is the first and only medium with the potential to enable incorporation of the full spectrum of both verbal and non-verbal cues. The present paper is part of a broader scheme in investigating potential differentiations in interpersonal communication between the physical world and VR. Our experimental design builds upon the existing knowledge base of forced compliance experiments; the set-up involved a comparative study of two groups (N = 46) performing tasks under the authoritative influence of a researcher who applied persuasion techniques. Results indicate that VR-mediated communication is as intricate as face to face, since subjects were equally or more compliant, with the nature of information exchanged (e.g. fact-based, morality-based, etc.) being a contributing factor, whilst exemplifying under-development and future applications of VR collaborative environments.

Keywords: Cognitive dissonance; Computer-mediated communication; Face-to-face communication; Forced compliance; VR-mediated communication; Virtual reality.