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Modeling spatial presence: A Structural regression model exploring aspects the Temple Presence Inventory

Maria Cipollone School of Communication and Theater Temple University

This paper is intended to be a submission to the journal Media Psychology.

Cipollone ABSTRACT This paper describes an analysis of the Temple Presence Inventory (TPI), a survey instrument that examines (tele)presence experiences across many dimensions and media formats. In the analysis, a structural regression model was used to confirm the latent variables proposed in earlier exploratory factor analyses (Lombard et. al., 2011). Also, it was hypothesized that there was a positive relationship between the latent variables known as mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence. The proposed model was upheld by the data, and the analysis revealed significant positive relationships between the latent variables. Finally, the implication of these results for the (tele)presence scholarship are discussed, along with potential future analyses.


INTRODUCTION Though scholars have long discussed telepresence (hereafter called presence) (Minsky, 1980; Rheingold, 1990; Reeves & Nass, 1996), it is Lombard and Dittons (1997) definition as the perceptual illusion of nonmediation that most succinctly summarizes the core concept, and is one of the more widely cited definitions. Presence can occur in a multitude of contexts, which range from experiencing spatial presence, or being there in the mediated environment, to social presence, which is similar to viewing the mediated environment as a social actor or being (Reeves & Nass, 1996). Scholars debate the complexity of these concepts, and the existence of this complexity calls for more stringent measures of the experience so it is more reliable in a research scenario (Lombard, Ditton, Crane, Davis, Gil-Egui, Horvath, Rossman & Park, 2000). This analysis will validate an instrument that measures the presence experience, and specifically focuses on spatial presence, and its relationship to mental immersion and perceptual realism. These terms are defined in detail below. Presence is a concept vital to many academic fields such as computer science, artificial intelligence, education, health, and art (Lombard, Ditton & Weinstein, 2009). Scholars attempt to elucidate its cognitive effects because presence can be implicated in persuasion, desensitization, or even learning via media and technology. If the role of presence is identified in these effects, then an instrument used to measure the experience must be tested for reliability (Lombard, Weinstein & Ditton, 2011). The evolution of the presence scholarship has lead to a call for more tested measures of the experience. Many scales have been designed to address varying aspects of presence, but the Temple

Cipollone Presence Inventory (TPI) was developed as theory-based tool to measure across the many dimensions of a presence-based experience, and the many possible media that might induce a presence-based experience (Lombard et al., 2000; 2009). In this analysis, the validity of the TPI was tested using a structural equation modeling technique known as structural regression. This technique allows researchers to examine relationships among latent variables, as well as the strength of their relationship to certain factor indicators (scale items), because it includes both a measurement model and a path model with subsequent latent variables. Specifically, the analysis was focused on the TPIs ability to measure experiences of mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence. First, the presence of the latent variables was confirmed (see Lombard et al., 2011), and relationships between those variables were tested. It was proposed that the greater the degree of mental immersion, thus a greater degree of perceptual realism, and finally, a greater degree of spatial presence. In this paper, the concepts of presence are reviewed; the development of the TPI is discussed, and the rationale for this analysis is presented. Finally, the results of the analysis are discussed along with the implications for further use of the TPI scale. Defining spatial presence One of the more common conceptions of presence is the mediums ability to give the viewer a sense of being within the environment that is presented, or spatial presence (Ijsselstein, de Ridder, Freeman, & Avons, 2000). Lombard & Ditton (1997) discussed this concept in three ways: you are there, it is here and we are together. The nuances of each are very subtle and scholars argue over their distinctions.

MODELING PRESENCE The sense of being there in the environment is possibly one of the oldest forms of presence. Biocca & Levy (1995) cited the earliest examples of symbolic exchange such as storytelling and cave painting, which tried to bring the viewer into the mediated environment. Many scholars have focused on the role of spatial presence (being there) and its role in virtual environments (Biocca, 1997). In virtual environments, a sense of being there has been found to assist in remote surgeries (Westwood, Hoffman, Robb & Stredney, 1999) and successful psychotherapy (Rizzo, Buckwalter, Neumann, Kesselman, & Thiebaux, 1998). Ravaja, Saari, Laarni, Salminen & Kallinen (2006)

reported that the level of spatial presence a gamer feels within a gaming environment can heighten his or her experience of emotional arousal. The notion of being there is, in some ways, symbiotic with the concept of spatial presence as it is here. The it is here concept can be best exemplified by viewers who are physically startled by events in a mediated environment or attempt to physically move out of the path of a mediated object (Lombard & Ditton, 1997). Scholars have also considered the role of presence as it is here in television screen-size (Bracken, 2005), Scholars have also thought of spatial presence as a notion of we are together or in shared space (Lombard & Ditton, 1997). This form of presence is particularly salient in terms of virtual environments, and teleconferencing (e.g., Skype or Google Hangout). A sense of shared space is also seen as vital to the success of virtual learning environments and engagement with virtual identities (Nowak, 2004; Arbaugh et al., 2008).


Mental immersion Whether being there, it is here, or we are together, the experience of spatial presence may dependent on other cognitive states, such as mental immersion. Mental immersion, or immersion, is the degree to which the individual is submerged in the virtual environment and sequestered from distracting inputs in the surrounding physical environment (Biocca & Delaney, 1995). In this analysis, mental immersion encompasses both physiological and psychological engagement. Although screen-size and quality can be related to experiences of spatial presence (Bracken, 2005), immersion is not necessarily dependent on these technological elements. In the discussion of 3D game environments, McMahan (2003) suggested that immersion is an acceptance of an environment that does not stray too far from the viewers (or in her case, players) expectation of the imaginary conventions of that environment, as long as they are consistent (p. 69). Others have proposed that if the mediated environment is preferred to the viewers imaginative environment, then immersion can occur (Wirth, 2006). If the viewer sees the imaginary environment as inconsistent or implausible, mental immersion cannot be achieved. Researchers argued that without sensory, psychological and emotional immersion, spatial presence can not be adequately achieved (Biocca & Delaney, 1995). Thus, in this analysis, it was hypothesized that mental immersion would directly affect the degree to which a participant experiences spatial presence. Perceptual realism Just as immersion is dependent upon the viewers expectation being matched with the conventions of the mediated object or environment, perceptual realism is dependent upon a similar concept. Perceptual realism can include an element of social realism.


Although both concepts (perceptual and social realism) consider the plausibility of events in real life, perceptual realism does not require that the events can actually happen, or that the objects can actually exist. For example, in science fiction films, viewers can know that the events in the mediated event are not plausible (such as the existence of an incredibly hulking, green superhero), but if the details of the events are displayed as realistically as one would expect, then the event can be viewed as perceptually realistic (Lombard & Ditton, 1997). If mental immersion is the degree of engagement in the environment, then perceptual realism is an aspect of environment that can assist in immersion. Measuring presence Prior to the creation of the TPI, researchers measured different types of presence in specific contexts with extensive drawbacks. Lombard et al. (2011) discussed the shortcomings of some of the more widely used measurement instruments. For example, the Slater-Usoh-Steed Presence questionnaire, or the Presence Questionaire ,which respectively assess spatial presence (as being there or it is here) as well as perceptual realism and mental immersion, are designed for virtual environments. Thus, these scales are not validated using other media, (e.g., film or television) rendering them isolated to the virtual reality experience. Other measures, such as the ITC Sense of Presence Inventory (Lessiter, Freeman, Keogh & Davidoff, 2001) or the Community of Inquiry Instrument (Arbaugh, ClevelandInnes, Diaz, Garrison, Ice, Richardson, & Swan, 2008) are pan-media scales, but they address issues of social presence, and largely ignore aspects of mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence.

Cipollone Researchers have also used physiological measures of the spatial presence (Meehan, et al., 2002; Brogni, Vinayagamoorthy, Steed, & Slater, 2006) but the depth of these measures does not provide extensive ground for interpretation (Lombard et al., 2011) suggested that these measures are best used in tandem with more subjective measures. Development of the Temple Presence Inventory (TPI) As it was discussed earlier, Lombard et al. (2000) called for the creation of the TPI partly because of the many conflicting measures of presence that already existed. Also, the TPI was designed to address the effect of presence across the conceptual dimensions proposed by Lombard and Ditton in 1997. These dimension include measures of mental immersion, social presence, social realism, perceptual realism and spatial presence. The TPI was designed to address these dimensions across media as well (Lombard et al., 2000; 2009; 2011). The data for the present analysis came from the initial testing of the TPI in 1999, when Lombard and colleagues first formulated 114 items for the scale (Lombard et al., 2000). They tested across conditions, meaning some participants viewed 3D IMAX film (presumably high presence) and some were in a classroom with a monaural television playing VHS cassette tapes of a television show that hasnt aired in nearly 35 years (presumably low presence; see Sample section for further details). The results from this initial study revealed significant mean differences across conditions, thus validating the scale across conditions. Additionally, exploratory factor analysis (using principal components analysis followed by principal axis factoring with oblique rotation) initially revealed seven potential factors (Lombard et al., 2000).

MODELING PRESENCE In 2009, Lombard, Ditton, and Weinstein analyzed the same data in order to eliminate some of the scale items, and test for reliability between items. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted (principal axis factoring with oblique rotation), and the

researchers found eight potential factors. This time, they retained scale items that loaded .40 or greater, but dropped items that did not. They reduced the items to 42 questions across eight factors, and performed tests of internal validity (using Cronbachs alpha) to justify their retention of certain questions (Lombard et al., 2009). To analyze the validity of the items across media format, they tested the TPI with 46 undergraduates at a large urban university. Participants viewed three types of television programs (a science-fiction film, a comedic news program, and a historical documentary). The researchers found significant mean differences between groups in their reporting of social presence, spatial presence, and other dimensions measured in the TPI (Lombard et al., 2009). Ultimately, the researchers surmised that these results provided further validity to the instrument. A 2011 study by Lombard, Weinstein, and Ditton tested the validity of the scale across low- and high- presence conditions, but this time using video games (SimCity Classic and Sims3). The researchers surveyed undergraduate students (N=85) using the TPI and six other prominent presence scales, in order to test the convergent validity of the TPI (Lombard et al., 2011, p. 5). Analyses of internal validity, inter-correlations among subscales, and mean scores supported the validity of the TPI to measure across dimensions of presence, and across media (Lombard et al., 2011, p. 7). Rationale

Cipollone The current study revisited data generated by the TPI (Lombard et al., 2000) to apply a structural regression approach. This analysis was conducted as further validation of the TPI through a measurement model (using Confirmatory Factor Analysis), and subsequent path model with latent variables, which is a basic method of structural equation modeling used to explore the relationships between those variables, or factors (McDonald & Ho, 2002). This method is particularly strong because it combines the elements of confirmatory factor analysis, which assess convergent validity, along with a regression/path analysis among the latent variables confirmed by the measurement model (Floyd & Widaman, 1995). It was expected that this analysis would not only provide further support for the use of the TPI, but also support the prior analyses by Lombard et al., (2000; 2009; 2011). Additionally, the inclusion of the path model would test predicted relationships among the variables. It was hypothesized that the level of mental immersion would predict both spatial presence and perceptual realism. It was also predicted that there would be a significant indirect relationship between mental immersion and spatial presence through perceptual realism. These hypotheses were derived from conclusions found in the presence literature, specifically from Lombard and Dittons conceptual explication (1997). This analysis is the first of its kind to use the structural equation modeling format to test the construct validity of the TPI.


METHOD Sample The data set used for this analysis (N= 469) was obtained in a prior research experiment, when the TPI was given to participants in both low and high presence



conditions (Lombard et al., 2000). A set of participants viewed a 3D IMAX film, T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (N=307), while another group viewed black and white images with monaural sound, as well as a few episodes of a once-popular American sitcom, Threes Company (N=162). Participants were solicited at separate sites, during separate experiments with the TPI. The data from the low-presence condition was collected at an earlier point with students at a large urban university. In order to collect data for the highpresence condition, researchers asked potential participants at an IMAX theater (located in New York City, NY) to assist university researchers with their work. If they agreed, participants filled out a paper and pencil version of the TPI. Of the 469 participants, 46.3% were females, and males 52.2% from ages 16 to 76 (M = 30.56, SD = 12.18). A majority of the participants were White (49.8%), and 17.8% African American, 12.7% were Hispanic, 11% were Asian, and 6.4% listed other. A majority of the participants had some college education (37.1%), or a college degree (20.8%), a graduate degree (20%). The original data set was collected as further development of the TPI, and researchers later tested the internal validity of the scale items and the validity of the measure across media content and context (Lombard et al., 2009). Model Results For the modeling portion of the analysis, the MPlus (sixth edition) program was used (Muthn & Muthn, 2011). The fit of the model was assessed using the chi-square model fit statistic (!2M), the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA), the Bentler Comparative Fit Index (CFI), and the standardized Root Mean Square Residual (SRMR) (Kline, 2011, p. 210). The chi-square statistic will test whether there was a significant difference in the observed covariance data (Klein, 2011, p. 200). The RMSEA

Cipollone was examined to also approximate the fit of the model. Klein (2011) points out that customarily, a value of .05 or greater demonstrates good fit for the RMSEA, but it is very important to report and inspect the 90% confidence interval, where if the lower bound estimate is less than .05, then the good fit hypothesis is retained, but if the upper bound


FIGURE 1: The hypothesized model of the structural regression of the relationship between mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence as measured by the TPI.



confidence interval exceeds .10, then the poor-fit hypothesis can not be rejected. The CFI indicates the relative success of the model compared the baseline, and the close-fit hypothesis tested the baseline model against the researchers hypothesized model. CFI values for goodness of fit should be greater than or equal to .95. The SRMR gives a sense of the proposed covariance matrix and its relative closeness of fit, and should be less than or equal to .08 (Kline, 2011, p. 209). Additionally, path coefficients (both standardized and unstandardized) were examined to understand the relationship between variables, and the proportion of the variance that these relationships explain. Measures The TPI is a scale that has been developed over the last decade (Lombard et al., 2000; Lombard et al., 2009; Lombard et al., 2011) to amalgamate the various measures and theoretical conceptions of presence (namely spatial/social) (Lombard & Ditton, 1997). The TPI is a 42-item, 7-point Lichert scale that asks participants to rate their experiences concerning a mediated experience. In order to ensure a parsimonious model, six indicators (out of the 42) were chosen to estimate the model for this particular analysis. Mental Immersion Respondents are asked questions concerning their engagement in the mediated experience, their perception of being within the mediated experience, their physical condition during the experience (e.g., dizziness or nausea) as well as their awareness of the mediated nature of the event. The proposed model used 6 manifest variables from

Cipollone the TPI. The two indicators that are proposed to measure the latent variable mental immersion asked participants on a scale of 1 to 7 (1; not at all to 7; very much) whether they felt mentally immersed in the experience, and how involved they were in the experience (see Table 1). The perceptual realism indicators asked participants if they felt as though they experienced the objects directly or if they seemed like they actually occurred (1; Not at all, 7; Very much), and the second asked if participants though the objects they viewed looked as though they might in the real world, using the same interval scale. Finally, the indicators of spatial presence asked participants how much they felt that as though they could reach out and touch object that were presented to them (1; Not at all, 7; Very much) and to what extent did they feel as though the were actually in the environment that was presented to them (1; Not at all, 7; Very much).


RESULTS Descriptive statistics The descriptive statistics, linearity, normality and multivariate outliers were assessed using the SPSS program. None of the variables presented more than 1% of missing data, so there wasnt a need to investigate the significance of why respondents didnt complete a question. Thus, the missing data will be treated as missing completely at random (MCAR). To examine multivariate outliers, the Mahalanobis distance was calculated for data, and compared with a critical chi-square, !2 (8) = 20.09 ("=.01). Thirteen cases were greater than the critical value, thus they were not retained for the

MODELING PRESENCE analysis (N= 456). The descriptive statistics presented in Table 1 reveal relative normality. Thus, no transformations were applied to the data. Of the 469 participants, 20.8% reported that they were very involved in the experience, while 18.0% rated a 6 (out of 7), and 20% rated a 5 (M= 4.81, SD= 1.70). These frequencies showed a relatively high amount of involvement in the experience. When asked about mental immersion, 20.5% of participants (M= 4.46, SD= 1.78) reported a score of 5 (out of 7), meaning they were moderately immersed in the experience. TABLE 1: Frequencies (in percent) and descriptive statistics of the six TPI indicators used for the analysis
Question Mental Immersion To what extent did you feel mentally immersed in the experience? (N= 466) How involving was the experience? (N=467) Perceptual Realism How much did it seem as if you could reach out and touch the objects or people you saw/heard? (N= 467) It seemed like the events I saw/heard were actually occurring at the time I saw/heard them. (N= 457) Spatial Presence Overall, how much did the things and people in the environment you saw/heard look like they would if you had experienced them Not at all 6.9 2 3 4 5 6 Very much 14.8 Skew




























-.489 33.7 12.9 11.8 14.0 8.8 9.8 9.0











Overall, how much 11.8 11.8 10.5 16.1 16.7 16.5 16.7 -.236 did the things and people in the environment you saw/heard look like they would if you had experienced them directly? (N=462) To what extent did 21.9 12.3 10.6 11.0 18.2 14.9 11.0 -.010 you experience a The participants in this data were screened in separate scenarios, so it was sense of being there inside the possible that they were split over whether they felt they could actually reach out and environment you saw/heard? (N= 457) -1.14



touch objects because of spatial presence being lower with a smaller screen versus a

larger one (Lombard et al., 1997). Table 1 demonstrates the descriptive statistics of the six indicators. Of the 469 participants, 27.8% said that they felt they couldnt touch the objects they viewed at all, and 23.3% said they felt they very much could reach out and touch objects (M= 4.14, SD= 2.37). However comparison of group means revealed nonsignificance between group conditions on this particular response F(1, 454)= 1.22, p=.27. Of the participants, 32.8 % said they strongly disagreed that the events they viewed were actually happening (M= 3.16, SD= 2.06). Participants were evenly distributed across responses about objects looking like they might in real life, (M= 4.30, SD= 1.97), and whether they had a sense of being there (M= 3.80 SD=2.07). TABLE 2: Fit Indices for the Structural Regression Model Index !2M dfM p RMSEA (90% CI) Pclose-fit H0 CFI SRMR !2B dfB 11.98 6 0.06 0.047 (0.00-0.09) .497 0.996 0.01 1431.00 15

MODELING PRESENCE For the proposed model, the chi-square is non-significant which indicates a


proposed model that isnt significantly different than the data present. This is known as the exact-fit hypothesis, which, according to the results, is not rejected. The RMSEA value is close .05 and the close-fit hypothesis cannot be rejected (p =.497). Also, lower bound of the 90% confidence interval is below .05, and the upper bound is below .10, so it can be said the model is relatively close fitting, and we can reject the poor-fit hypothesis. The CFI statistic is 0.996, indicating a substantial improvement over the independence model. The SRMR is relatively close to zero (zero can indicate perfect fit), and well below the accepted value of .08. Table 3 demonstrates the factor loadings for the measurement portion of the structural regression model. The standardized factor loadings show the relative strength of the indicators to measure the latent variables mental immersion, perceptive realism and spatial presence, which suggest convergent validity. In this analysis, a loading of .60 or greater was considered a strong factor loading. TABLE 3: Factor Loadings and Residuals for the Measurement Portion of the Structural Regression Model of the TPI Factor Loadings Measurement Errors Parameter Unst. SE St. Unst. SE St. Mental Immersion Involvement Mentally Immersing Perceptive Realism Actually Occur Look Like Spatial Presence

1.00a 1.163


0.817 0.895

0.924 0.620

0.090 0.099

0.333 0.198

1.00a 1.110 0.089

0.645 0.754

2.490 1.665

0.202 0.177

0.584 0.432

Cipollone Being There Reach Out and Touch 1.00a 1.050 -0.053 0.874 0.806 1.007 1.966 0.123 0.174 0.237 0.351


Note: Unst., unstandardized; St., Standardized. Standardized estimates for measurement errors are proportions of unexplained variance. a Not tested for statistical significance. For all other unstandardized estimates, p < .05.

Path model estimation Table 4 shows the estimates for the proposed path model. The coefficients evidence a positive relationship between mental immersion and perceptual realism, as well as mental immersion and spatial presence. Also, there is a significant positive relationship between perceptual realism and spatial presence. Thus, the hypotheses, which proposed that an increase in perceptual realism and mental immersion would lead to an increase in spatial presence was not rejected. Finally, there was a specific indirect effect of mental immersion on spatial presence via perceptual realism. The standardized disturbance variances demonstrate the proportion of unexplained variance for the latent constructs, mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence. Parameter Direct effects Mental Immersion!Spatial Presence* Mental Immersion ! Perceptive Realism* Perceptive Realism ! Spatial Presence* Indirect effects Mental Immersion ! Spatial Presence Through Perceptive Realism* Disturbance variance Mental Immersion* Perceptive Realism* Spatial Presence*

Unstandardized SE 0.420 0.798 0.925 0.135 0.080 0.162

Standardized 0.317 0.782 0.684

0.335 0.702 1.777 0.301

0.098 0.122 0.258 0.142

0.248 0.389 1.00a 0.092

Not tested for statistical significance. Note: Standardized estimates for disturbance variances are proportions of unexplained variance. *p <. 001.



DISCUSSION The results of this structural regression analysis demonstrate that the proposed model (see Figure 1) fit the data. The indicators had strong factor loadings on the proposed latent variables, thus confirming the strength of the TPI in its measurement of mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence. Finally, the results indicate that there is a significant relationship between the three latent variables, both in direct and indirect paths. Thus, the hypothesis that an increase in the amount of mental immersion would lead to an increase in perceptual realism, and an increase in the amount of spatial presence was confirmed. These significant findings implicate that the TPI is adequately estimating the proposed dimensions of presence first conceptualized by Lombard and Ditton (1997). Furthermore, the measurement portion of the model confirms the validity of the exploratory factor analysis conducted in prior research using the TPI (Lombard et al., 2009; 2011). There were several limitations to this analysis. First, the use of structural equation modeling required a larger sample size, so some of the newer data collected in more recent studies was not suitable for the method (Kline, 2011, p. 12). In the future, new data would have to be collected to assess the validity of the TPI using structural regression techniques. Another limitation of the study was the selection of only six manifest variables to measure the latent variables. This analysis investigated the paths of the latent variables concerning mental immersion, perceptual realism, and spatial presence, but the other types of presence should be incorporated into the model using a structural regression technique. More importantly, because the TPI was designed to measure presence across

Cipollone the dimensions explicated by Lombard and Ditton (1997), including the other latent variables would further validate the strength of the scale. A subsequent analysis would include the dimensions of social presence through parasocial interaction, which is an intimate but one-sided type of presence, or social presence- active/passive interpersonal, where the viewer considers mediated objects that are like other beings, and either passively or actively respond to those actors (Reeves & Nass, 1996; Lombard & Ditton, 1997). It would also be necessary to include the dimensions of social richness, in which the medium evokes a sense of immediacy and intimacy, and social realism, in which the viewer believes that the events in the mediated event could possibly occur in the real world. However the inclusion of 42 indicators would increase the complexity of the model, and may not be practical. Thus, in future analyses, the indicators might be parceled together to measure latent variables. In case of the TPI, domain representative parcels could be made using Lombard & Dittons (1997) unidimensional constructs. These parcels could be incorporated into a more parsimonious model with greater reliability (Coffman & McCallum, p. 237). In their analysis of path models, Coffman and McCallum (2005) found that models with pareceled indicators (also known as partially disaggregate models) have larger path coefficients and smaller residual variances than those models that include unparceled indicators. Therefore, it would make a great deal of sense to test the TPI using this technique.




CONCLUSION The validity of the TP1 was assessed in this analysis, specifically in its ability to measure the latent variables: spatial presence, mental immersion, and perceptive realism. The use of the structural regression model was useful in that it was able to confirm prior factor analyses of the TPI (Lombard et al., 2000; 2009; 2011), but also because important relationships between the latent variables were evaluated. As a result of this research, the conditions that induce a spatial presence experience are better understood. On the level of scale development, these results make a strong case for the use of the TPI when measuring presence. In a broader sense, the results add strength to the presence scholarship, because they ensure a more clear measure of the experience. As scholars are able to more acutely understand presence-based experiences, they can further understand the nature of these dynamic experiences, and the cognitive processes behind them.



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