The Plausibility Paradox For Scaled-Down Users In Virtual Environments
This paper identifies a new phenomenon: when users interact with simulated objects in a virtual environment where the user is much smaller than usual, there is a mismatch between the object physics that they expect and the object physics that would be correct at that scale. We report the findings of our study investigating the relationship between perceived realism and a physically accurate approximation of reality in a virtual reality experience in which the user has been scaled down by a factor of ten. We conducted a within-subjects experiment in which 44 subjects performed a simple interaction task with objects under two different physics simulation conditions. In one condition, the objects, when dropped and thrown, behaved accurately according to the physics that would be correct at that reduced scale in the real world, our true physics condition. In the other condition, the movie physics condition, the objects behaved in a similar manner as they would if no scaling of the user had occurred. We found that a significant majority of the users considered the latter condition to be the more realistic one. We argue that our findings have implications for many virtual reality and telepresence applications involving operation with simulated or physical objects in small scales.