The emergence of metaverse signifies the transformation of virtual reality (VR) from an isolated digital experience into a social medium, which facilitates new contexts of information exchange and communication. In fact, VR comprises the first-ever computer-mediated communication paradigm that enables the transfer of a broad range of nonverbal cues, including some unique cues which are not even known from face-to-face social encounters. This highlights the urgency to theoretically and experimentally investigate aspects of nonverbal communication (NVC) in immersive virtual environments (IVEs). We provide a critical outlook on empirical studies aiming at widening the discussion on how presence, as a core social factor, is affected by the perception of nonverbal signals and how NVC may be effectively utilized to facilitate social interactions in immersive environments. Our review proposes a classification of the most fundamental cues and modalities of NVC, which we associate with conceptualizations of presence that are more relevant to interpersonal communication. We also investigate the NVC-related aspects that are essential to construct an “active” virtual self-concept and highlight associations among NVC-related aspects through forming a complex web of research topics coming from the field of IVEs. We establish that the key research challenge is to go beyond simply studying nonverbal cues and technological settings in isolation.

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