The P.R.O.S.E. Project was established in 2009 to investigate the psychology of 3D or immersive digital environments such as virtual reality and virtual worlds. In examining the psychology of virtual environments, two broad questions were addressed: 1) Do the principles of psychology (i.e., of behavior and subjective experience) that operate in the physical world also apply to the virtual world? and 2) Do experiences in virtual environments have the capacity to influence behavior and subjective experience in the physical world?

A virtual world is defined as a digital environment that:

     • Has a 3-D Graphical Interface (an environment with a text
        interface alone does not constitute a full virtual world.)

     • Supports Massively Multi-User Remote Interactivity
        (simultaneous interactivity between large numbers of users in
        remote physical locations.)

     • Is Persistent (the virtual environment continues to operate even
        when a particular user is not connected.) 

     • Is Immersive (the environment's level of graphical realism
        creates an experience of psychological presence. Users have a
        sense of "being inside," "inhabiting," or "residing within" the
        digital environment rather than being outside of it, thus
        intensifying their psychological experience.)

     • Emphasizes User-Generated Activities and Goals.  (In contrast
        to immersive games, where goals -- such as amassing points,
        overcoming an enemy, or reaching a destination - are built into
        the program, virtual worlds provide a more open-ended setting
        where, similar to real life, users can define their own activities
        and goals. However, there are some immersive games such as
        World of Warcraft that include specific goals for the users but are
        still psychologically and socially complex. These intricate
        immersive environments stand at the border of virtual games
        and virtual worlds.)


While the lab continues its work on 3D environments, its focus has broadened over time to consider the personal and cultural impact of a wide range of leading edge digital technologies including wearable computing, neural implants, affective computing, personal robotics, and artificial intelligence. As part of this expanded focus, papers and presentations on topics such as Identity and the Self in the Digital Age; Human-Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence, and Technology and the Future of Human Labor have been developed. In addition, a course based on the work of The PROSE Project entitled "Computers, Human Behavior, and Society" is now offered to students at Loyola Marymount University.