Academic Year 2023-2024



Luca Chittaro
Unit Credits
Teaching Period
Second Period
Course Type
Prerequisites. Students must be familiar with the basics of usability, computer programming and human-computer interaction.
Teaching Methods. The course includes both lectures and discussions of case studies. The latter are focused on analyzing and/or designing and/or implementing Virtual Reality and persuasive experiences.
Verification of Learning. 1) Oral Exam about the theoretical aspects of the course

2) small project about the practical implications of the concepts and theories examined in the course



The aim of the course is to introduce the principles, methodologies, and applications of the rapidly growing areas of Virtual Reality and Persuasive Technologies, with a comprehensive focus on how users experience them (User Experience).  The theoretical part of the course includes human perception of reality, psychological models of persuasion, and the factors that affect them. The methodological part of the course deals with the different design choices that have to be taken to create engaging and persuasive interactive systems and virtual experiences, as well as with the metrics and methods to evaluate their effectiveness. The application part of the course presents the different categories of applications of virtual reality, serious games, and persuasive technologies, including several real-world case studies. The course includes a practical assignment that allows students to apply the concepts learned in the course to real-world case studies.


1.1 Knowledge and understanding: Students acquire specific multidisciplinary knowledge about virtual reality, persuasive technology, and user experience. They also learn to choose from various techniques for the design of virtual and persuasive experiences, depending on the objectives of the application, its context of use, and its target user.

1.2 Applied knowledge and understanding: Through a series of case studies, students acquire specific skills to apply knowledge of the discipline to the various aspects of real-world projects concerning virtual reality and persuasive user experiences.

Soft skills

2.1. Autonomy of judgment: Students acquire the ability to critically evaluate the different features of virtual reality and persuasive technology, and how each design choice can positively or negatively affect the effectiveness of the user experience in different contexts of use and for different categories of users.

2.2 Communication Skills: Students learn to describe virtual reality and persuasive user experiences in a technically correct way and using the appropriate terminology. The course also devotes several lessons to the topic of persuasive communication, and such knowledge can be used also for effective interpersonal communication.

2.3 Learning Abilities: The course provides the knowledge and tools that enable the student to deepen and address autonomously issues related to the design and evaluation of virtual reality and persuasive user experiences.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR). Reality and perception. Definitions. The cone of experience. VR as communication. VR history: from flight simulators to the Metaverse.

HEAD-MOUNTED DISPLAYS. Components and architecture of a VR system. Field of View and of Regard. Augmented reality (AR). Audio. Haptics. Motion Platforms. Treadmills. Virtual prototyping and training. Educational contexts. Education case study: autism. Constructivist theory. VR in art and cinema.

IMMERSION. Definitions. Presence. Fidelity continua. Levels of experience processing. Human vision for perception, for action.

PERCEPTUAL MODALITIES. Color. Depth. Visual illusions. Segmenting space around the user. Human hearing, touch, proprioception, balance. Time and motion perception. Attentional blink. Optic flow. Perceptual constancies. Adaptation. Top-down vs. bottom-up attention. Visual salience. Multimodal attention.

MOTION SICKNESS AND ITS PREVENTION. Theories. Eye strain and aftereffects. Adaptation and readaptation. ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS PREVENTION. Motion design: passive and active. Hardware. Safety. Hygyene. Latency. User Factors. Measuring sickness. Safety. Psychological adverse effects.

CONTENT CREATION. The story. Core experience. Aliasing. Perceptual segregation. Contours. Gestalt laws.

NAVIGATION. Definition. Navigational knowledge. Designing navigable environments. Environmental and personal wayfinding aids. Filming 360° content.

VIRTUAL HUMANS. Ergonomic dummy. Avatar. Autonomous agent. Embodied interface agent. Social Influence Theory in VR. The “uncanny valley” effect. Virtual human architecture: geometric, kinematic, physical, behavioral, cognitive levels. Crowds. User studies.

INTERACTION DESIGN CONCEPTS. Interaction fidelity. Reference frames. Bare hands and eye-gaze interaction. Visual-physical-conflict. INTERACTION PATTERNS. Selection. Manipulation. Viewpoint control. Indirect control. Case studies from Half-Life Alyx.

USER-CENTERED DESIGN PROCESS FOR VR. Define stage: assessment and key players. Personas/Scenarios/Storyboards. Requirements. Make stage. Prototyping. Demos. Simulations. Networked VR. Learn stage: validity in user studies.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF VR. The Self. Effects of changing bodily perception. Effects of wearing an avatar.

CYBERTHERAPY. VR Exposure therapy: phobias, anxiety disorders, PTSD. AR for cybertherapy. VR therapeutics in medicine. Virtual analgesia. VR in rehabilitation. Societal aspects of VR and the metaverse.

SERIOUS GAMES. Principles of game-based learning. Examples and studies in different areas.

PERSUASIVE TECHNOLOGIES. Defining persuasion. Characteristics of persuasive technology.

PERSUASION THEORIES. Attitudes. Expectancy-value. Functions of attitudes. Functional Theory of persuasion. Case studies: goarmy, spotify. Accessibility Theory. Theory of Reasoned Action. Theory of Planned Behavior. Dual Models of Persuasion. ELM.

PERSUASION HEURISTICS. Reciprocation. Commitment and consistency. Social Proof. Example: astroturfing. Liking. Case study: disinformation campaigns and cognitive warfare. Authority. Scarcity. Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Contrast principle. Sequential techniques. Communicator factors.

WEB CREDIBILITY. Factors. Expertise. Trustworthiness. Types of credibility.

MESSAGE FACTORS. Structure. Content. Language. Framing. Fear appeals: the EPPM model. Case studies. Guilt Appeals. Humor Appeals. Abraham and Michie’s taxonomy. Case study: My FitnessPal.

FUNCTIONAL TRIAD. Persuasive tools. Reduction. Tunneling. Tailoring. Behavior suggestion. Self-monitoring. Surveillance. Operant Conditioning. Persuasive media. Cause-and-effect simulation, environments, objects. Computers as social actors. Personalized persuasion.

MOBILE AND SOCIAL PERSUASION. Principles. Fogg’s Behavior Model (FBM).

EVALUATION. Evaluation of persuasive technology. Classification of Persuasive Interventions Failures. The Eight-Step design process.

1) Materials provided by the professor in the e-learning web site.

2)  J. Jerald. The VR Book: Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality, ACM Press, 2015.

3) B.J. Fogg. Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Morgan Kaufmann, 2002.

3) R.M. Perloff. The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century. Routledge, 2020.