by Keith Hullfish
The theoretical framework also affords a context with which to identify the qualities encoded in a memory from a virtual reality. The matching of this memory to the schema for another origin carries an implicit comparison of phenomenal experiences. Different origins potentially have similar phenomenal qualities. According to the framework, these similarities would be manifest in the confusions between these origins. Hence, the degree of confusion would represent the degree to which these origins share a common set of qualities. If the qualities of the other origin are known, it can be inferred that the memory of the virtual event also has those qualities. On the other hand, the attribution process also highlights the qualities unique to memories from a virtual reality, as represented in the correct attribution of source.
The source monitoring paradigm, and reality monitoring in particular, is also advantageous because it can address themes inherent in the other definitions of reality. The measurement of reality is operationalized to reflect its process-oriented definition. In monitoring experiments, participants must determine what is real by choosing the source of a memory from a specified set of possible origins. Second, the quality of the virtual experience may be studied in the context of the dichotomy between external (i.e., real) and internal (i.e., imagined) origins of phenomenal experience, as suggested by distal attribution (Loomis, 1992). The well-established schemas for these origins provide the anchors in the comparison with which to partition and classify the qualities of the virtual experience. This context also reflects the self/nonself distinction found in all of the other definitions of reality. Finally, although a participant's expectations of real experiences are not explicitly defined, whether these expectations were met is defined by the degree to which memories of virtual events are misattributed to real origins. For instance, given a spatial stimulus, if people expect to be surrounded by a three-dimensional space, and feel present, then any inadequacies of the technology which fail to create this illusion could potentially generate cues to an origin other than real.
Similar inferences may be made of the phenomenal experience. Memory is a record of our experience; it captures the perceptions and reflective processes during the initial experience (Johnson et al., 1993). Differences in the qualities of memories are thought to reflect differences in the phenomenological qualities of the original experiences. For instance, if the experiences from two environments were isomorphic, then it would be expected that their representation in memory would also be isomorphic. Conversely, if the memories were not similar, the original experiences could not be considered similar. However, memories should not be considered isomorphic with the phenomenal experience. Memory is subject to elaboration; cognitive effort and emotion associated with the experience may be encoded as well. Nevertheless. it provides cues about the qualities of the phenomenal experience. Thus, it provides evidence for the degree to which artifacts from the interface are included in the original virtual experience.