Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Tamara M. Chock


Attitude change, Heuristic processing, Information processing, Persuasion, Presence, Virtual Reality

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation investigates the extent to which a media audience’s degree of technology acceptance (as a mediator) and interactivity of the media influence the user’s sense of presence, enjoyment, and message engagement, and finally lead to attitude change (persuasion). The study also explores how the user processes a message and changes the individuals’ attitude, guided by the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) of information processing.

To test hypotheses, two different types of media as stimuli sorted by levels of stereoscopic dimension (2D screen versus 3D virtual reality) describing a Syrian Refugee crisis were used for an experiment in the study. Stimuli were randomly assigned to 105 university students to 1) watch (screen) or 2) experience (VR). After the experiment, participants were asked to complete a set of questionnaires, which included items to assess the amount of heuristic and systematic processing; the level of presence; message engagement; enjoyment; message-consistent attitude change; and behavioral intention.

The results showed VR (high interactivity) induced participants’ higher level of telepresence, social presence, message engagement, and enjoyment than a screen (low interactivity), and finally led to message-consistent attitude and behavioral intention. Heuristic processing was primarily worked in VR, where Systematic processing was mainly shown in the 2D condition. In addition, it was found that Technological Acceptance significantly worked as a mediator between interactivity and message engagement. Limitations and suggestions for future research were discussed with implications for both academic and business field.


Open Access