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  6. As coastal communities around the globe contend with the impacts of climate change including coastal hazards such as sea level rise and more frequent coastal storms, educating stakeholders and the general public has become essential in order to adapt to and mitigate these risks. Communicating SLR and other coastal risks is not a simple task. First, SLR is a phenomenon that is abstract as it is physically distant from many people; second, the rise of the sea is a slow and temporally distant process which makes this issue psychologically distant from our everyday life. Virtual reality (VR) simulations may offer a way to overcome some of these challenges, enabling users to learn key principles related to climate change and coastal risks in an immersive, interactive, and safe learning environment. This article first presents the literature on environmental issues communication and engagement; second, it introduces VR technology evolution and expands the discussion on VR application for environmental literacy. We then provide an account of how three coastal communities have used VR experiences developed by multidisciplinary teams—including residents—to support communication and community outreach focused on SLR and discuss their implications.
  7. Abstract

    This study focuses on the individual and joint contributions of two nonverbal channels (i.e., face and upper body) in avatar mediated-virtual environments. 140 dyads were randomly assigned to communicate with each other via platforms that differentially activated or deactivated facial and bodily nonverbal cues. The availability of facial expressions had a positive effect on interpersonal outcomes. More specifically, dyads that were able to see their partner’s facial movements mapped onto their avatars liked each other more, formed more accurate impressions about their partners, and described their interaction experiences more positively compared to those unable to see facial movements. However, the latter was only true when their partner’s bodily gestures were also available and not when only facial movements were available. Dyads showed greater nonverbal synchrony when they could see their partner’s bodily and facial movements. This study also employed machine learning to explore whether nonverbal cues could predict interpersonal attraction. These classifiers predicted high and low interpersonal attraction at an accuracy rate of 65%. These findings highlight the relative significance of facial cues compared to bodily cues on interpersonal outcomes in virtual environments and lend insight into the potential of automatically tracked nonverbal cues to predict interpersonal attitudes.