Dr. Bailenson’s main area of interest is the phenomenon of digital human representation, especially in the context of immersive virtual reality. He explores the manner in which people are able to represent themselves when the physical constraints of body and veridically-rendered behaviors are removed. Furthermore, he designs and studies virtual reality systems that allow physically remote individuals to meet in virtual space, and explores the manner in which these systems change the nature of verbal and nonverbal interaction. In particular, he explores how virtual reality can change the way people think about education, environmental behavior, and health.
His findings have been published in over 90 academic papers in the fields of communication, computer science, education, law, political science, and psychology. His work has been consistently funded by the National Science Foundation for over a decade, and he also receives grants from various Silicon Valley and international corporations. Bailenson consults regularly for government agencies including the US Army and Air Force, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Research Council, and the National Institute of Health on policy issues surrounding virtual reality.