This study gauged the effects of force feedback in the Novint Falcon haptics system on the sensory and cognitive dimensions of a virtual test-driving experience. First, in order to explore the effects of tactile stimuli with force feedback on users' sensory experience, feelings of physical presence (the extent to which virtual physical objects are experienced as actual physical objects) were measured after participants used the haptics interface. Second, to evaluate the effects of force feedback on the cognitive dimension of consumers' virtual experience, this study investigated brand personality perception. The experiment utilized the Novint Falcon haptics controller to induce immersive virtual test-driving through tactile stimuli. The author designed a two-group (haptics stimuli with force feedback versus no force feedback) comparison experiment (N = 238) by manipulating the level of force feedback. Users in the force feedback condition were exposed to tactile stimuli involving various force feedback effects (e.g., terrain effects, acceleration, and lateral forces) while test-driving a rally car. In contrast, users in the control condition test-drove the rally car using the Novint Falcon but were not given any force feedback. Results of ANOVAs indicated that (a) users exposed to force feedback felt stronger physical presence than those in the no force feedback condition, and (b) users exposed to haptics stimuli with force feedback perceived the brand personality of the car to be more rugged than those in the control condition. Managerial implications of the study for product trial in the business world are discussed.
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