The P.R.O.S.E. (Psychological Research on Synthetic Environments) Project: Conducting In-World Psychological Research on 3D Virtual Worlds

Richard L Gilbert


The P.R.O.S.E. (Psychological Research on Synthetic Environments) Project was established to investigate the psychology of 3D virtual worlds. Under the auspices of the project, a systematic program of in-world behavioral research is being conducted that addresses three core questions related to the psychology of 3D immersive environments: What are the characteristics of active participants in virtual worlds? Do the principles of psychology that operate in the real world also apply to the virtual world? Do experiences in the virtual world have the capacity to influence behavior and subjective experience in the real world? The current paper describes a series of studies that examine each of these questions and outlines future directions for the project. If projections for a highly populated, ubiquitously accessible (web-based), and seamlessly integrated (interoperable) network of virtual worlds are borne out, a new realm of psychological reality and interaction will have been created that will be increasingly important for behavioral scientists to investigate and understand.


Psychology, Internet, Virtual Worlds, Second Life

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