Title: A Human-Centered Approach to Investigating Extended Realities and the Metaverse
Abstract: Extended realities, such as VR, AR, and MR, surround users with rich layers of sensory information and allow them to see, hear, and feel as if they are in the physical world. My work has explored how embodied experiences in these virtual worlds can impact the way people think and behave in the physical world. This talk will introduce studies that span across over 15+ years of investigating extended realities’ impact on attitude and behavior change. Findings shed light on when and how these virtual experiences are (or are not) effective, underlying mechanisms driving these effects, and individual differences that moderate the observed outcomes. Implications for examining extended realities and the metaverse from the perspectives of social sciences and considerations for future research will be discussed.
Bio: Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn (Ph.D., Stanford University) is an Associate Professor at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Georgia. She is the founding director of the Games and Virtual Environments Lab ( and the editor of Media Psychology. Her main program of research investigates how immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality transform traditional rules of communication and social interactions, looking at how virtual experiences shape the way that people think, feel, and behave in the physical world. She has been awarded over $9 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Her work is published in numerous top-tier outlets in the fields of communication, health, and engineering. She is the recipient of the the Mary Alice Shaver Promising Professor Award from the American Academy of Advertising, the inaugural Early Career Award from the National Communication Association’s Health Communication Division, and the Krieghbaum Under-40 Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.