Natalia Lipp, Paweł Strojny, Agnieszka Strojny, Sławomir Śpiewak, Jan Argasiński, Przemysław Korzeniowski

Simulation realism is a crucial factor for task performance in virtual reality. The issue is that it does not simply result from a simulation’s graphical quality and is often connected to users’ expectations and the capacity of the cognitive system. It is assumed that perceived realism may be affected by physiological arousal which is the basis of emotional reactions and of attention prioritizing. The main aim of the presented study is to verify whether perceptual characteristics of a virtual scene – complexity and vividness of virtual objects – affect perceived realism. The secondary aim is to test whether realism assessment changes because of arousal. An experimental study was conducted with 100 participants in total. Four experimental groups differ in terms of the complexity of a virtual scene (i.e., number of objects in the field of view) and vividness of virtual objects (i.e., figure-ground contrast). Participants were asked to perform a task, that was taking on the role of a marshaller and positioning the plane on the airport apron in the virtual reality simulation. During the task, electrodermal activity was measured. After the virtual session, participants assessed perceived realism. Results indicate that the complexity and vividness of virtual scene do not affect perceived realism directly. Physiological arousal (i.e., skin conductance level) is a moderator of the relationship between the vividness of the virtual scene and perceived realism. A high level of arousal increases realism assessment in vivid simulations.