Blascovich, J., Loomis, J., Beall, A., Swinth, K., Hoyt, C., & Bailenson, J.N. (2002). Immersive virtual environment technology as a methodological tool for social psychology. Psychological Inquiry, 13 (2), 103-124.
Historically, at least 3 methodological problems have dogged experimental social psychology: the experimental control-mundane realism trade-off, lack of replication, and unrepresentative sampling. We argue that immersive virtual environment technology (IVET) can help ameliorate, if not solve, these methodological problems and, thus, holds promise as a new social psychological research tool. In this article, we first present an overview of IVET and review IVET-based research within psychology and other fields. Next, we propose a general model of social influence within immersive virtual environments and present some preliminary findings regarding its utility for social psychology. Finally, we present a new paradigm for experimental social psychology that may enable researchers to unravel the very fabric of social interaction.