Immersive Persuasiveness: Investigating media effects of 360-degree immersive journalism

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) have prompted a new wave of persuasive media content, aimed at augmenting the effects of traditional media using the new, more engrossing dimension of experiences mediated through the technological modality. The touted potentials of such media formats have caused a polarization in public opinion, with proponents often exaggerating the possible benefits and global prosocial implications, and critics diminishing its effects describing the added immersiveness of media as a fluke with very little real-world implications or emphasizing its dangers as a propaganda weapon.

This dissertation therefore revolves around the question of what kinds of affective, cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioural media effects does persuasive media have, depending on the modality through which the content is presented? To that purpose, it examines some of the most relevant effects, or lack thereof, of immersive journalism as an emerging field of immersive persuasive media. It is positioned within the multidisciplinary research and theory of persuasive and immersive media, psychology, and media effects. The contributions and findings are drawn from an early literature review of immersive journalism and a set of empirical studies. The empirical work relies on experimental research (N = 89) comparing media effects across three modalities of low (Article), medium (2D-360), and high immersiveness (VR-360).

The chosen research methods support contrasting and comparing the more traditional format of a written article to a 360-degree video presented either on a 2D screen or in mobile VR. The focus on 360-degree videos has been chosen as that format is the most accessible and widespread in the public commercial sphere, unlike fully immersive virtual reality.

The findings and implications of the research primarily contribute to understanding immersive journalism media effects categories of affect, cognition, attitude, and behavior. Publication I presents an overview of previous studies and maps the trends and interests mainly seen in the empirical research of immersive journalism. Arguably, the most touted promise of immersive technologies is their ability to elicit prosocial attitudes, and this is examined in Publication II which focuses on their effects on human rights attitudes. The primary expected effect of immersive journalism and immersion in general is seen on a subjective, affective level, which is further criticized for appealing to the non-rational selves. Accordingly, Publication III employs measures of emotional states before and after the experiment, as well as a memory test of content and investigates their relationship. Lastly, media effects are of little consequence if the media is not popularized and consumed. Publication IV, therefore, aims at exploring users’ intentions to continue consuming the media through different modalities. Finally, as an original contribution of this summary, modality effects are considered in the wider context of media effects. As a whole, this dissertation presents one of the first extensive studies investigating the effects of modalities and technological immersion on the media effects of immersive journalism as a domain of persuasive media.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
PublisherTampere University
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2221-2
ISBN (Print)978-952-03-2220-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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