Paying Attention in Metaverse: An Experiment on Spatial Attention Allocation in Extended Reality Shopping
Chen, Juan; Xi, Nannan; Pohjonen, Vilma; Hamari, Juho (2023)
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Metaverse, i.e., extended reality (XR)-based technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are increasingly believed to facilitate fundamental human practice in the future. One of the vanguards of this development has been the consumption domain, where the multi-module and multi-sensory technology-mediated immersion is expected to enrich consumers’ experience. However, it remains unclear whether these expectations have been warranted in reality and whether, rather than enhancing the experience, metaverse technologies inhibit our functioning and experience, such as cognitive functioning and experience. This study utilizes a 2 (VR: yes vs. no) × 2 (AR: yes vs. no) between-subjects laboratory experiment. 159 student participants are randomly assigned to one of four self-constructed shops — a brick-and-mortar store, a VR store, an AR store, and an augmented virtuality (AV) store — to complete a typical shopping task. Four spatial attention indicators — visit shift, duration shift, visit variation, and duration variation — are compared based on attention allocation data converted from head movements extracted from recorded videos during the experiments. This study identifies three essential effects of XR technologies on consumers’ spatial attention allocation: the inattention effect, acceleration effect, and imbalance effect. Specifically, the inattention effect (the attentional visits shift from showcased products to the environmental periphery) appears when VR or AR technology is applied to virtualize the store and disappears when AR and VR are used together. The acceleration effect (the attentional duration shift from showcased products to the environmental periphery) exists in the VR store. Additionally, AR causes an imbalance effect (the attentional duration variation increases horizontally among the showcased products). This study provides valuable empirical evidence of how VR and AR influence consumers’ spatial bias in attention allocation, filling the research gap on cognitive function in the metaverse. This study also provides practical guidelines for retailers and XR designers and developers.
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