Abstract | Advances in head mounted displays (HMDs) have increased the interest in cinematic virtual reality as an artform. However, the freedom of a viewer in 360 video presents challenges in ensuring that audiences do not inadvertently miss important events and locations. We examined whether the high level of immersion provided by HMDs encourages participants to synchronise their attention during viewing. Sixty-four participants watched the 360° documentary “Clouds Over Sidra” using either an HMD or via a flat screen tablet display. We used inter-subject correlation (ISC) analysis to measure attentional synchrony over the course of the video and to examine whether spatial and temporal factors led to different amounts of correlation both within and between groups. We found significantly greater ISC for the HMD compared to the tablet group. This effect was greatest for scenes with a unidirectional focus and at the start of scenes. We discuss our results in terms of the visual properties and the motor affordances of HMDs vs tablets. Our results show the value of HMDs in increasing attentional synchrony and may provide producers of 360° content insight in how to encourage or discourage synchronisation of viewing direction.

Associated Project
Virtual Realities: Immersive Documentary Encounters (VRDocs)
Farmer, H., Bevan, C., Green, D., Rose, M., Cater, K., & Stanton Fraser, D. (2020). Did you see what i saw?: comparing attentional synchrony during 360° video viewing in head mounted display and tablets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
@article{farmer2020did, title={Did you see what I saw?: Comparing attentional synchrony during 360° video viewing in head mounted display and tablets.}, author={Farmer, Harry and Bevan, Chris and Green, David and Rose, Mandy and Cater, Kirsten and Stanton Fraser, D}, journal={Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied}, year={2020}, publisher={American Psychological Association} }