Academic Year 2022-2023



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 of VR. Creating successful VR: the human factor. The cone of experience. Historical milestones. Forms of Reality: VR, AR, MR, AV. Field of View and Field of Regard. AR with see-through and handheld displays. Non-see-through HMDs. Audio. Haptics. Motion Platforms. Treadmills. VR applications. Virtual prototyping. VR training case studies: aviation and medicine. VR in art and cinema. Immersion. Presence. Fidelity continua. Norman’s levels of experience processing.

PERCEPTUAL MODALITIES. Human vision. Color perception. Depth perception. Human hearing. Human touch. Proprioception and balance. Segmenting space around the user. Time perception. Motion perception. Optic flow. Perceptual constancies. Adaptation. Attention: Top-down vs. bottom-up. Visual salience. Multimodal attention.

ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS PREVENTION. Theories of motion sickness. Eye strain, seizures and aftereffects. Adaptation and readaptation. Motion design: passive and active motion. Hardware challenges. Safety. Hygyene. Latency. User Factors. Measuring sickness. Safety guidelines. Psychological adverse effects.

CONTENT CREATION The story. Core Experience. Perceptual segregation. Contours. Perceptual organization: Gestalt laws. Designing navigable environments. Environmental and personal wayfinding aids. VR vs. 360° film. Types and applications of virtual humans. Ergonomic dummy. Avatar. Autonomous agent. Embodied interface agent. The “uncanny valley”. General virtual human architecture: geometric, kinematic, physical, behavioral, cognitive levels.

INTERACTION PATTERNS: Interaction Fidelity. Reference frames. Bare hands and eye-gaze interaction. Visual-physical-conflict. Selection patterns: Hand selection, pointing, image-plane selection, volume-based selection. Manipulation patterns: direct hand manipulation, proxy, 3D tool. Viewpoint control patterns: walking, steering, 3D multi-touch, automated. Indirect control patterns: widgets and panels, non-spatial control. Interaction case studies from Half-Life Alyx.

ITERATIVE DEVELOPMENT. Define stage. make stage. Learn stage. Methods in each stage.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF VR. User studies of virtual humans. The Self. Effects of wearing an avatar on users. CYBERTHERAPY and its applications. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). Stress inoculation training. Societal aspects of VR.

SERIOUS GAMES: Definition. Principles of game-based learning. Examples and studies.

PERSUASIVE TECHNOLOGIES. Novelties in Web/Mobile Persuasion vs. traditional persuasion.

THEORIES OF PERSUASION. Attitudes. Expectancy-value theory. Functions of attitudes. Functional Theory of persuasion. Functional theory 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. Liking. Case study: disinformation campaigns and cognitive warfare. Authority. Scarcity. Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Contrast principle. Sequential techniques. Communicator factors.

WEB CREDIBILITY Expertise. Trustworthiness. Types of Web credibility: presumed, surface, reputed, earned.

PERSUASION INTERVENTIONS. Message Factors. Structure. Content. Fear Appeals. EPPM model. Case studies of Interactive Fear Appeals. Guilt Appeals. Humor Appeals. Abraham and Michie’s taxonomy of persuasive interventions.

INTERACTIVE PERSUASION. Functional triad. Case study: My FitnessPal. Persuasive tools. Reduction. Tunneling. Tailoring. Behavior suggestion. Self-monitoring. Surveillance. Operant Conditioning. Persuasive media. Simulation, environments, objects. Computers as social actors. Language factors. Framing, Personalized persuasion.

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