Characterizations of presence are many and various. The first part of this article applies philosophical and psychological lenses to three common descriptions: Presence as (or as following from) “the suspension of disbelief,” presence as the “illusion of nonmediation,” and presence as “(the feeling of) being there.” These construals of presence—the assumptions and commitments they make—are compared with one another, their plausibility and utility appraised. The second, shorter part of the article is not so much interested in definitions as distinctions that may help us ask better questions moving forward. We briefly consider the role of attention in presence, whether, when, or how presence is “binary,” and whether it is helpful to speak of presence in unmediated physical reality. A recurring theme throughout the article is whether a given understanding of presence (mis)construes the mind as monolithic: That is, as uniformly rational and consciously accessible. In closing, we suggest that researchers specify precisely what type of presence they're referring to whenever the concept is evoked; and that states such as involvement, absorption, and engagement be kept conceptually separate from presence, since they speak to “higher” cognitive functioning than simply feeling self-located in virtual environments, and indeed need not presuppose placeness or spatiality at all.

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