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Does virtual diversity matter?: Effects of avatar-based diversity representation on willingness to express offline racial identity and avatar customization

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Abstract

The present experiment investigated how avatar-based racial diversity representation of virtual worlds influences racial minority individuals’ expression of their offline racial identity in the virtual realm. Black and White participants, after being exposed to low- vs. high-diversity representation of Second Life, were given an opportunity to customize a Second Life avatar for themselves. Participants also reported how willing they were to reveal offline racial identity in the virtual world. Perceived racial characteristics (Black-looking vs. White-looking) of the avatars customized by the participants were rated by two independent coders who were blind to the objectives and hypotheses of the present experiment. The results showed that White participants’ willingness to reveal offline racial identity and avatar customization were not affected by the levels of avatar-based diversity representation. By contrast, Black participants showed differential responses after being exposed to low- vs. high-diversity representation. When compared with Black participants in the high-diversity condition, Black participants in the low-diversity condition were less willing to reveal their offline racial identity. Furthermore, the avatars customized by Black participants in the low-diversity condition were rated by the independent coders as more White-looking when compared with the avatars customized by Black participants in the high-diversity condition, hinting at virtual racial passing.

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... As they have faced barriers because of physical attributes, marginalized people may be more concerned about displaying or abandoning their physical traits with avatars. Accordingly, research on the avatar-based representation of marginalized people has been steady with increased interest in equity and inclusion focusing on female and colored populations (Cassell and Jenkins, 2000;Kafai et al., 2010;Lee and Park, 2011;Martey and Consalvo, 2011;Todd, 2012;Lee, 2014). However, even discourse alienates people with disabilities (PWD). ...
... The question is whether this barrier-free characteristic of avatar creation will give a new chance to socially marginalized groups. Researchers have continuously conducted studies on the avatar-based underrepresentations of gender (Cassell and Jenkins, 2000;Todd, 2012) or racial minorities (Kafai et al., 2010;Lee and Park, 2011;Martey and Consalvo, 2011;Lee, 2014) in the virtual world. Some researchers pointed out the problems of social minorities' underrepresentations. ...
... For example, Cassell and Jenkins (2000) criticized the dominance of male characters leading females away from enjoying the virtual world service game. Similarly, non-white people were less willing to disclose the color of their physical skin with avatars when they were in a situation with low racial diversity, unlike the white who were free from the skin color of other avatars (Lee and Park, 2011;Lee, 2014). Lee and Park (2011) explained that non-white people might perceive the white-dominant virtual world as an identity threat and keep their distance. ...
Article
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In the virtual world, people can reconstruct their identity the way they want with avatars. Many expect the high degree of freedom in avatar customization will give new chances to socially marginalized people experiencing discrimination against their physical traits. Accordingly, research on a virtual embodiment of marginalized people has been steady with increased interest in equity and inclusion. However, even discourse alienates people with disabilities. In addition, there are few studies on the virtual representations of people with disabilities. Therefore, this paper explores the shared perception of avatar-based disability representations among people with disability to help understand how they want to construct their disability with avatars. The study also gives direction for a barrier-free virtual world. We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with people with physical impairments who used virtual world services and performed a core-periphery analysis of social representations. This study expands the range of academic adoption of the social representations theory and provides insights for stakeholders such as service providers to design an inclusive virtual world.
... In some cases, interactants may not be able to make a sex or gender categorization. Users feel more uncertain with androgynous avatars that lack clear indications of gender (Nowak & Rauh, 2005, 2008 indicated that people choose to convey elements of their social identities in the avatars they select, such as sex, gender, race, or age (e.g., Cheong & Gray, 2011;Gerbaudo, 2015; J. E. R. Lee, 2014;Martey & Consalvo, 2011;Nowak & Rauh, 2008). Alternatively, they may select avatars that depict a more idealized or aspirational version of the self (e.g., Bessière, Seay, & Kiesler, 2007;Lee-Won, Tang, & Kibbe, 2017, Sah, Ratan, Tsai, Peng, & Sarinopoulos, 2016. ...
... ies different from our corporeal bodies, researchers, designers, and users must be careful to avoid antisocial effects such as the reinforcement of stereotypes and the entrenchment of bias. Designers must also ensure that people have diverse and appropriate options for self-presentation so as not to marginalize underrepresented groups (Brock, 2011;J. E. R. Lee, 2014), and be cautious about when they allow avatars to display stereotypically consistent behaviors (Fox & Bailenson, 2009b;Ratan & Sah, 2015). ...
... d individuals may benefit from masking their identities through the avatars they select, there are downsides. Limiting the visibility of women, people of color, and other groups may feed into the illusion that they are not present in these environments and reinforce the default assumption that the vast majority of users are White males(Brock, 2011;J. E. R. Lee, 2014). ...
Article
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Avatars are growing in popularity and present in many interfaces used for computer-mediated communication (CMC) including social media, e-commerce, and education. Communication researchers have been investigating avatars for over twenty years, and an examination of this literature reveals similarities but also notable discrepancies in conceptual definitions. The goal of this review is to provide a general overview of current debates, methodological approaches, and trends in findings. Our review synthesizes previous research in four areas. First, we examine how scholars have conceptualized the term “avatar,” identify similarities and differences across these definitions, and recommend that scholars use the term consistently. Next, we review theoretical perspectives relevant to avatar perception (e.g., the computers as social actors framework). Then, we examine avatar characteristics that communicators use to discern the humanity and social potential of an avatar (anthropomorphism, form realism, behavioral realism, and perceived agency) and discuss implications for attributions and communication outcomes. We also review findings on the social categorization of avatars, such as when people apply categories like sex, gender, race, and ethnicity to their evaluations of digital representations. Finally, we examine research on avatar selection and design relevant to communication outcomes. Here, we review both motivations in CMC contexts (such as self-presentation and identity expression) and potential effects (e.g., persuasion). We conclude with a discussion of future directions for avatar research and propose that communication researchers consider avatars not just as a topic of study, but also as a tool for testing theories and understanding critical elements of human communication. Avatar mediated environments provide researchers with a number of advantageous technological affordances that can enable manipulations that may be difficult or inadvisable to execute in natural environments. We conclude by discussing the use of avatar research to extend communication theory and our understanding of communication processes.
... In previous research, the visual appearance of humanlike virtual avatar designs was mostly cartoonish [7,12,14,17,[22][23][24][25][26]33,35,36,38,45,43,47,66]. However different types of fantasy figures [33,36,28], such as Furries [53] and robots [7] were also common. ...
... Also translucent avatars have been used in forms of shadows [9] or holograms [37,43,65]. In addition, designs have had different degrees of full-body ranging from showing just eyes and mouth [33,36] or the head of the avatar [25,33,35,36,54] to combination of hands to head or eyes [63,65]. Some designs featured a torso with hands [22,26,42] or a torso with parts of the legs [9,28,30,43]. ...
Article
This paper presents two studies investigating how physically remote telexistence users wish to see other users visualized as virtual avatars in a) augmented reality, and b) immersive virtual reality while conducting a collaborative task. To answer this research question, a telexistence system was designed and implemented with simple avatar designs. After that, visual examples of alternative avatar representations for both use cases were designed by thoughtfully altering the visual parameters of 36 virtual avatar examples. The avatar designs were first evaluated in a user study with 16 participants in conjunction with using an implemented telexistence system. As a follow-up an online survey with 43 respondents was used to record their preferences regarding virtual avatar appearance. The results suggest that users prefer the other user to be represented in a photorealistic full-body human avatar in both augmented reality and virtual reality due to its humanlike representation and affordances for interaction. In augmented reality, the choice for a hologram full body avatar was also popular due to its see-through appearance, which prevents a mix-up with a real person in the physical space.
... Only seven studies recruited diverse samples to examine intergroup relationships between underrepresented groups (Tawa et al., 2015(Tawa et al., , 2016(Tawa et al., , 2020 and stereotype threats to Black users in VEs (Lee, 2009(Lee, , 2014Lee & Nass, 2012;Lee & Park, 2011). Tawa et al. (2016) had Black, Asian, and white participants interact in Second Life after creating selfresembling avatars. ...
... Scholars of color have demonstrated that it is possible to examine racial bias and the harmful effects POC endure with methods that decenter Whiteness. For example, by focusing on Black and Asian participants, the same two scholars of color led all seven studies demonstrating a mirroring of white domination of offline spaces in VEs (Lee, 2009(Lee, , 2014Lee & Nass, 2012;Lee & Park, 2011;Tawa et al., 2015Tawa et al., , 2016. These scholars never asked participants to take on another race; instead, they examined interpersonal racial hierarchies in everyday interactions. ...
Article
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Virtual environments (VEs) provide novel ways for users to experience computer generated people and places, which can be used by researchers to examine and reduce racial bias. However, unless researchers consider the systemtic structures of racial inequities when designing their simulations, they may unintentionally create experiences that could prime or entrench racist beliefs or attitudes. A critical Whiteness framework guides this systematic review of 20 years of prejudice and bias reduction research in VEs. Of the 68 articles, findings indicated that virtual experiences are a promising tool in anti-bias interventions. Future research must expand to more longitudinal, behaviorally focused studies while prioritizing predictive theoretical models and meaningfully reflecting on inclusive practices within the broader bias reduction space. We discuss best practices for future research in anti-bias and anti-prejudice in VEs.
... The ability of young people to customize their avatar representation has not so far produced any differences in their willingness to reveal their offline ethnic identity and white participants have been no more or less willing than black participants to customise their avatars to exhibit features of other ethnic or cultural groups, irrespective of whether the virtual world's range of ethnic representations has been of lower or higher diversity. The avatar-based racial diversity representation in the virtual environment has not been found to influence racial minority individuals' expression of their physical world ethnic identity in the virtual realm, in contrast to results found elsewhere (Lee, 2014). ...
Chapter
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Many young people now access digital networks that include individuals very unlike them who promote different cultural, religious and ethical value systems and behaviour. Such value systems can create conflicts of expectation for young people seeking to resolve their relationship to a national citizenship in a pluralistic society, especially if they are experiencing adolescent uncertainties or a growing awareness of social inequalities. The emergence of trans-national political structures and their differing value systems, together with the rise of international tensions, have increased uncertainty about the nature of identity and entitlement to a national citizenship. This paper describes the ongoing Citizens project study of identity development in young people, using real-world scenarios to discover the values that underpin their engagement with this wider range of religious and cultural value systems and to explore personal identity, political issues and citizenship.
... In other words, avatars are primarily defined on the basis of their interactive and social properties, as representations of users in digital space (Lee, 2014). Representation should be understood in complex terms: for example, some assume that avatars should look like the actual physical appearance of the human creators (Hooi & Cho, 2014), while others expect avatars to reflect the personality/internal processes of the users, independently of what and how they actually look like (Behm-Morawitz, 2013). ...
Chapter
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Avatars are an important feature of digital environments. Existing both in social networks and webchats (usually as static images) and in single-player and online video games (as dynamic characters, often humanoid), avatars are meant to represent users' action and communication within digital environments. Research has shown that, when they are customized by users, avatars are not created "randomly," rather they maintain some kind of relationship with users' actual self-representation and identity. However, more recent studies showed that users may have multiple digital representations: the same person could create multiple avatars depending on which facet of the self is primed by an experimental manipulation, or on which aims they have to pursue in the given virtual environments (e.g., to seduce, to play, to work). With this background, this contribution explores the possibility to use customized avatars within psychological assessment, as adjunctive assessment tools useful to get information on patients' self-representation(s) and communicative intentions.
... 3,5,6 Avatars serve as a key means for self-presentation and identity construction in technology-mediated environments, 7,8 and compensatory motives can drive customization of avatars. 9,10 Inspired by the Proteus effect framework [11][12][13][14] and the agency model of customization, 15,16 we investigated whether masculinity-threatened young men compensate for the threat through avatar muscularity when customizing a selfavatar and how such compensatory avatar customization influences masculinity-threatened men's physical endurance-a behavior associated with masculinity. 1 ...
Article
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Abstract Masculinity-threatened men attempt to resolve the negative states caused by the threat through compensatory behavior such as public display of muscularity, which constitutes one way in which men physically establish masculinity. Avatars serve as a key means for self-presentation in technology-mediated environments, and compensatory motives can drive avatar customization. Noting this, the present research examined whether masculinity-threatened young men engage in compensatory avatar customization and whether such customization can be self-affirming. Specifically, we conducted a laboratory experiment to investigate the effects of masculinity threat on customization of avatar muscularity and physical endurance on a task that represents behavioral self-regulation. Data from 238 male college students revealed that masculinity-threatened young men customized their avatar to have greater muscle definition than did their nonthreatened counterparts, and greater muscle definition of the customized avatar predicted greater physical endurance on a handgrip task. Furthermore, muscle definition of the customized avatar significantly mediated the relationship between masculinity threat and physical endurance. None of these effects were moderated by masculine norm conformity, which suggested that the effects overrode individual differences in the extent to which participants conformed to masculine norms and expectations. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
... Regardless of the age and gender, majority of users chose the white female avatar, followed by either the white male avatar or the black male or female avatar. Moreover, black participants exposed to the low-diversity representation of Second Life were shown to create more white-looking avatars as opposed to black participants exposed to the high-diversity representation [14]. ...
Article
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Background The number of adults using the Internet to obtain health information is on the rise. An estimated 66% of the adults reportedly use the Internet to obtain health information related to a specific disease (ie, human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, HIV/AIDS). Previous research has demonstrated that health information seekers use the Internet to seek answers to stigma-laden questions from health avatars. Objective The objective of this study was to identify patterns in the choice of avatar among health information seekers (patients or public health workers) using the Internet to obtain HIV/AIDS information and to describe the demographic characteristics (age, gender, and ethnicity) of health information seekers to determine whether they preferred an avatar that was similar to their own gender and ethnicity. Methods The Rural South Public Health Training Center (RSPHTC) partnered with the New York State Department of Health to create the HIV/AIDS Avatar project. The avatar project was created to serve as an educational resource for public health workers by providing relevant and accurate information about HIV/AIDS. First, the user was instructed to choose one of the 8 avatars that voiced responses to 100 common questions and answers about HIV/AIDS. Next, the website gave users the option to complete a brief 3-question demographic survey. Finally, the demographic characteristics of each user were compared with the chosen avatar to determine whether they preferred an avatar that was similar to their own gender and ethnicity. Results The avatar project website was loaded with 800 videos that included the answers to the top 100 questions about HIV/AIDS voiced by 8 avatars. A total of 1119 Web-based health information seekers completed the demographic survey upon accessing the website. Of these, 55.14% (617/1119) users were female. A total of 49.96% (559/1119) users were aged between 30 and 49 years. The ethnicity of the user and the avatar was found to have the strongest connection. All the users choose the female avatar matching their own ethnicity, followed by the male avatar. Additionally, the white female avatar was chosen the most by all users regardless of the age group or gender. Conclusions Web-based health information seekers using the Internet to access medical research information may feel more comfortable receiving the answers to HIV stigma-laden questions from avatars, rather than receiving information directly from a health care provider. Additionally, providers seeking to utilize avatars to deliver interventions in health care settings may benefit from offering individuals choices in how they receive health information. Having the ability to choose whom you seek information from may lead to an increase in knowledge and awareness and could motivate HIV-positive individuals to seek care.
... Virtual reality users who embodied a dark-skinned virtual body showed less implicit racial bias afterward (Peck, Seinfeld, Aglioti, & Slater, 2013), and Israelis who interacted with Palestinians in an in-depth VR conversation reported positively changed evaluations of Palestinians (Hasler, Hirschberger, Shani-Sherman, & Friedman, 2014). However, information about seeking and selecting contact with outgroups in virtual worlds is generally lacking, and users may hide or obscure their group affiliations with avatars (R. Lee, 2014). ...
Chapter
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Media users exercise control over their information and entertainment environments. Selective exposure to media allows individual to choose channels and messages that satisfy their interests and motivations. A variety of selective exposure studies have assessed selective exposure to messages about ingroup versus outgroup members. Relevant theoretical perspectives include information seeking, confirmation bias, informational utility, self and affect management, reinforcing spirals, boundary expansion, exemplification, and social comparison. Each of these theories of selective exposure identifies an attitudinal or self-conceptual basis for media use, yet also allows for the role of social identity or beliefs about intergroup members and interactions. In addition, the distinction between selective exposure and selective avoidance is critical for understanding intergroup media contact, as is the distinction between positive and negative portrayals of relevant social groups. Applicable findings from survey and experimental studies illustrate that age identity, sex and gender identity, and race and ethnicity all produce patterns of selective exposure in which ingroups are generally favored. Information about outgroups is more likely to be selected if it suits the situational or dispositional needs of the individual. Partisan selective exposure is also examined from an intergroup perspective, as is selective exposure to information about aspirational future selves and self-expansion. Depictions of persons that exemplify social groups or allow for social comparison are also discussed, yet little direct evidence exists about exposure to outgroup members in these processes. Finally, interpersonal new media are considered with regard to intergroup contact. Immersive media such as virtual reality provide interactive contact with outgroups, and social identity plays an important role in the distribution of user-generated content, the cultivation of online social networks, and the ongoing convergence between mass and social media. Selective exposure researchers are increasingly considering intergroup contact as an important type of media content relevant to their theories, and intergroup contact researchers are increasingly accounting for the selectivity factor in media processing and effects. Integrating key findings and building a more programmatic approach to this topic will enhance the understanding of individuals’ self-selected exposure to media about, and produced by, outgroups. Indeed, for intergroup media contact to be successful in producing less stereotyping, more positive attitudes, and more intergroup harmony, media users must first choose to come into contact with messages about outgroup members, specifically messages that can convey and produce beneficial effects for intergroup relations.
... Furthermore, White dominance in some online social media and games has been shown to have negative effects on racial identity construction (Nishi, Matias, & Montova, 2015). In her study of avatar-based diversity representation, Lee (2014) found that Adolescents of Color who created avatars in White-dominated virtual reality worlds were more likely than adolescents in diverse virtual reality worlds to lighten the skin tone of their avatars and to refuse to share their offline racial identities with other users. Other studies have traced the connections between minstrelsy, film, and literature, and the projection of Whiteness embedded in the design of online personae through White avatars. ...
... This exploration can be impeded, however, by the gender, racial and cultural biases integrated in the structure of the seemingly neutral virtual environment (e.g. see Lee (2014), on the role of virtual diversity in avatar customization). These environments (including avatar-based games and virtual worlds) have been shown to over-represent White, male and adult people over the non-White, female and elderly population (Williams et al. 2009). ...
Article
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This article explores identity development and understanding of avatars as an important educational goal in the avatar-based multi-user virtual environment platform of Second Life (SL). There are in general two ways to understand identity development in virtual worlds. The first way is to examine the role that these platforms play in the search for identity. The second way is to see avatar development as a micro-version of the identity task outlined by Erik Erikson. This article, which also looks to explore how avatar identity development might foster what the Brazilian educator refers to as conscientization, the ability to recognize the ways that society predetermines perceptions of self and others, focuses on the latter. We suggest that these micro-identity tasks involve a place–space dialectic in which users’ experiences in their place-based emotional/identity development initially serve as context for avatar development. There is then an ensuing dialectic in which the space-based avatar helps these users gain further understanding of their place-based lives as they continue to create their in-world avatar identities. We include interviews and blog posts of four undergraduate students who participated in a course that integrated SL as a primary learning tool into a general education course. The students discuss the development of their avatars, which coincided with a unit on identity development. Each of these students brought their place-based experiences into their avatar development in different ways, which in turn affected their place-based understandings. The article argues that place-based experience serves as an important social/cultural indicator for conscientization as part of the ongoing learning process.
... Hence, close attention should be given to the portrayal of various underrepresented groups in video games (Maclean, 2016). This is particularly important because depictions in virtual environments tend to threaten the social identity of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in non-virtual environments, and affect viewers' perception of real-life interactions (Lee, 2014;Saleem et al., 2017). ...
Article
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Studies investigating the representation of Africans and other ethnicities are scarce in video game literature. Using a content analysis approach, this paper examines Africans’ representation in ten of the most popular games of 2014 in the United States based on industry market research reports. The findings show that Africans are underrepresented in video games explored in this study. The study also reveals that African characters in these games did not play leading roles in the storyline. Results are discussed as they pertain to Africans’ representation in video games, media effect, and media literature. This exploratory study broadens the discussion on representation in video games to other ethnicities and shows the need for studies on representation in contemporary video games that include understudied ethnicities.
... Avatars have been found to display one's personal as well as social identities 4,5 and striving for positive social identities, have been suggested to play a crucial role for avatar selection. For instance, Lee 6 found Black subjects to create more "Whitelooking" avatars for ethnically non-diverse environments than for ethnically diverse ones. ...
Preprint
Irrespective of the numerous possibilities for avatar selection and customization, research claimed that White avatars compared to avatars from other ethnicitiesare overrepresented in online environments. The present experiment investigated how existential threats, namely the awareness of one’s own mortality (mortality salience, MS) affects the preference for White over Black avatars in a life-simulation game (SIMS III). In addition, the success of a White versus Black avatar as potential influence on avatar-choices was examined. White participants (N = 65) were assigned to a MS versus control condition andwatched a game-play video of a human chess game that was won either by the White or by the Black team. Drawing upon terror management theory, we predicted White individuals to prefer in-group to out-group avatars under conditions of MS. We further asked whether thein-game success of the teams would attenuate this in-group bias. The results revealed an increased preference for in-group over out-group avatars under conditions of MS. Success did not affect the pattern. The results are discussed concerning the role of existential anxieties forthe behavior in virtual worlds
... SL was not developed for research, but social scientists soon recognized its utility as a platform to study human interaction. A number of the studies conducted have tended to focus on examining the unique characteristics of SL participants (Hooi & Cho, 2014;McLeod, Liu, & Axline 2014), the behavior of SL avatars in virtual worlds (Grinberg, Careaga, Mehl, & O'Connor, 2014;Hooi & Cho, 2013), the use of SL for online instruction within educational institutions (Halvorson, Ewing, & Windisch, 2011;Inman, Wright, & Hartman, 2010), or the feasibility of conducting social experiments and experimental manipulations in SL (Greiner, Caravella, & Roth, 2014;Lee, 2014;Tawa, Negrón, Suyemoto, & Carter, 2015). A handful of studies have used SL as a tool for recruitment, though generally the recruitment goals are directed at specific populations (Keelan et al., 2015;Swicegood & Haque 2015). ...
Article
Increasingly, researchers have begun to explore the potential of the Internet to reach beyond the traditional undergraduate sample. In the present study, we sought to compare the data obtained from a conventional undergraduate college-student sample to data collected via two online survey recruitment platforms. In order to examine whether the data sampled from the three populations were equivalent, we conducted a test of equivalency using inferential confidence intervals-an approach that differs from the more traditional null hypothesis significance testing. The results showed that the data obtained via the two online recruitment platforms, the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing site and the virtual environment of Second Life, were statistically equivalent to the data obtained from the college sample, on the basis of means of standardized measures of psychological stress and sleep quality. Additionally, correlations between the sleep and stress measures were not statistically different between the groups. These results, along with practical considerations for the use of these recruitment platforms, are discussed, and recommendations for other researchers who may be considering the use of these platforms are provided.
... Virtual ethnocultural groups most plausible are more permeable than offline groups (Lee, 2014) and, thus, should allow for individualist strategies in terms of (a) a decreased identification with these virtual groups, or (b) becoming part of another group by selecting an out-group avatar. ...
Thesis
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The synopsis of this cumulative dissertation reports the theoretical background, methodology and main results of five studies addressing the role of intergroup versus interpersonal similarities for mediated social encounters under conditions of mortality salience (MS). Drawing upon terror management theory (TMT, Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) individuals were expected to prefer similar over dissimilar others under conditions of MS. In theory, similarity can take place on the intergroup level (i.e. by belonging to the same in-group) as well as on the interpersonal level (e.g., by holding the same attitudes). So far, the relative relevance of intergroup versus interpersonal similarity has not been studied systematically. Particularly in mediated social encounters, intergroup and interpersonal similarity can be independent from each other and might have different effects. The results of five studies in different contexts confirmed intergroup and interpersonal similarities to have different effects in mediated encounters under conditions of MS. In an online dating context, a similarity-attraction effect emerged only among in-group but not out-group members (Study 1), and intergroup but not interpersonal dissimilarity threatened the individuals’ defense against MS (Study 2). In a gaming context, individuals preferred an interpersonally similar in-group (versus out-group) avatar (Study 4) but showed no in-group bias when the avatar was interpersonally dissimilar (Study 3). Further, the valence of the in-group played a role under conditions of interpersonal dissimilarity (Study 3), but not under conditions of interpersonal similarity (Study 4). Finally, Study 5 found an increased interest in media content by in-group but not out-group members under conditions of MS even when the content (extremist propaganda) was negatively valenced and did not match the recipients’ political attitude. The results are discussed regarding their implications.
... This model can be used in future studies on the subjectivity of racial representation in other forms of media, as the medium can affect people's perceptions of racial diversity, as some research regarding avatars indicates (Lee 2014). What this model doesn't do is claim that the individuals in each of these factors hold colourblind or anti-racist sentiments necessarily, but rather that their opinions of racial diversity in film are theoretically similar to people's varied treatment or understanding of race. ...
Article
In order to understand how people from all major racial groups in the United States feel about racial representation in film, this study employed Q methodology to assess the motivations, attitudes, and opinions of individuals on this issue. Four factors were identified: (1) balanced critics, (2) storyline devotees, (3) tolerant learners, (4) grounded advocates. These four groups of people with common opinions on diversity in film represent a spectrum on perceptions of race, from colourblind to anti-racist. Variation in factor differences are explained through the lens of symbolic interactionism. In three of the four groups, individuals indicated a desire for more racially diverse film casts. The fourth group did not oppose racial representation in film, rather, these individuals were more concerned about the quality of the storyline. Implications for Hollywood’s incorporation of racially diverse casts are discussed.
... In general, when a person chooses or designs her own avatar or virtual representation, she tends to use characteristics that reflect her self-perception in the real world, even if the options she can choose from may not always meet her expectations, due to demographic or contextual factors (e.g. the country where the application was developed compared to the country where it is used) or to the fact that the anthropomorphic characteristics of the avatars are developed based on stereotypes [65], [66]. In the field of education, Brown et al. [67] and Lee [68] argue that avatars with ethnic characteristics provide greater possibilities of interaction, creating culturally diverse and inclusive virtual worlds. The impact of ethnic aspects is much less investigated in healthcare areas, although the ethical implications of interactions among patients and healthcare providers in virtual environments have been discussed [69]. ...
Article
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Avatars have been found to be useful tools to overcome communication barriers in people affected by Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and to help them understand and express emotions. However, it has been shown that the success of the interactions is highly dependent on the subject's identification with the avatar. In this study, we assess the variables that may influence that perception in children under 10, in the context of the largely multi-ethnic Ecuadorean society. The results reveal that, unlike previous studies showed for young adults, the ethnic traits displayed by the avatars are not a critical factor, as the the quality of the interactions was more influenced by the perception of the avatars' appearance, their similarity with the kids' peers and, above all, the ability of the human model who controls the avatar to use a pleasant voice, to succeed in making his/her questions and responses fully understood, and to master the non-verbal communication transmitted through gestures and voice.
... In social work, a systematic review of five evaluation studies sought to describe the nature of virtual education in that field. Training targets included case management (Levine et al., 2013;Wilson et al., 2013), interviewing skills (Tandy et al., 2017), and diversity and inclusion competencies (Lee et al., 2014;Reinsmith-Jones et al., 2015). The review in social work concluded that while the research was typically pilot in nature, there is emerging evidence for acceptability when delivered as an addition to classroom instruction (Huttar & BrintzenhofeSzoc, 2020). ...
Article
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In the present review, we consider technology-based methods for training and monitoring counseling skills in behavioral health (i.e., addictions, mental health, and behavioral medicine). We provide an overview of topical foci and design features, as well as review the available research. The Arksey and O'Malley framework for scoping review was used and there were two project phases. First, we reviewed and charted design features and training topics. Second, we reviewed and charted published research evaluating training outcomes. The search process yielded six commercial companies or academic research centers targeting online training of behavioral health counseling skills. These programs could be categorized by an avatar (i.e., computer-generated) or video (i.e., human actor) client interface, as well as by a completely interactive experience (i.e., virtual reality) or an experience with a pre-programmed, branch-logic interaction (i.e., computer simulation). One final company provided monitoring services only, without an explicit training component. The literature in this area is in its nascent stages, with primarily pilot scope and comparatively less progress if contrasted with fields such as general medicine. Online training and monitoring of behavioral health counseling skills is a promising emerging field with positive qualities such as scalability, resource efficiency, and standardization. Future research should emphasize (1) between-group randomized clinical trials, (2) comparisons to standard training practices, and (3) alignment with professional competency standards. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s41347-022-00252-8.
... People want their avatars to communicate things about themselves, and they spend time choosing or customizing them. Some research has been performed about strategies designing avatars for different purposes (Boberg, Piippo, & Ollila, 2008;Kafai, Fields, & Cook, 2010;Lee, 2014;Vasalou, Joinson, Bänziger, Goldie, & Pitt, 2008). These studies show a balance between the need for aligning the avatar image with the actual self and the strategies of idealization. ...
Article
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Avatars are used in different contexts and situations: e-commerce, e-therapy, virtual worlds, videogames, collaborative online design… In this context, a good design of an avatar may improve the user experience. The ability of controlling the way an avatar convey messages and emotions is capital. In this work, a procedure to design avatar faces capable of conveying to the observer the most suitable sensations according to a given context is developed. The proposed system is based on a combination of genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks whose training is based on perceptual human responses to a set of faces.
... While self-disclosure is involved in self-presentation strategies to help build closer relationships [70], it also poses potential risks of exposing one's vulnerabilities, especially to the unknown or anonymous audience online [53]. Prior research has explored the online self-disclosure experiences of various underrepresentative groups, such as racial minority [36,49,50] and gender minority [9,11,20,60]. In this section, however, we focus on the work for people with disabilities (PWD). ...
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In social Virtual Reality (VR), users are embodied in avatars and interact with other users in a face-to-face manner using avatars as the medium. With the advent of social VR, people with disabilities (PWD) have shown an increasing presence on this new social media. With their unique disability identity, it is not clear how PWD perceive their avatars and whether and how they prefer to disclose their disability when presenting themselves in social VR. We fill this gap by exploring PWD's avatar perception and disability disclosure preferences in social VR. Our study involved two steps. We first conducted a systematic review of fifteen popular social VR applications to evaluate their avatar diversity and accessibility support. We then conducted an in-depth interview study with 19 participants who had different disabilities to understand their avatar experiences. Our research revealed a number of disability disclosure preferences and strategies adopted by PWD (e.g., reflect selective disabilities, present a capable self). We also identified several challenges faced by PWD during their avatar customization process. We discuss the design implications to promote avatar accessibility and diversity for future social VR platforms.
... Similarly, in settings such as Second Life, non-white users who encounter mainly white avatars tend to assume that most users are white and/or adopt a white avatar in order to pass. 19 (Lee & Park 2011;Lee 2014) The social expectations and stereotypes of the physical world impact both what people choose to portray and how that portrayal is received. 16 Granted, in short interactions we may be unable to uncover your deceit because there is insufficient information with which to judge your veracity; however, this is also true of conversations struck up with strangers at bus stops. ...
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Understanding identity requires understanding the communities to which we belong; virtual communities are increasingly relevant to our personal identity. While many point to alleged differences of behavior and presentation online, these are not as great as first appear; characteristics which encourage antisocial behavior online do so offline as well. Furthermore, while deception and alteration of identity are possible online, they are difficult to sustain and rooted in our understanding of physical identities. Thus while there is space between our physical and virtual representations, the two are not sharply separated. Anonymity is often used to argue for such a separation, however while there is sufficient anonymity to allow for deceptive portrayals online, it is harder to attain than most realize. I discuss ways of piercing anonymity online and possible future ramifications of our increasing ability to do so. Less anonymity will likely lead to greater responsibility for our online actions, but it also will diminish our ability to use virtual worlds for identity experimentation. I discuss positive and negative effects of the increasing connection between virtual and physical identities.
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The use of virtual learning environments (VLEs) has become more common and educators recognized the potential of VLEs as educational environments. The learning community in VLEs can be a mixture of people from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds. However, despite many studies about the use of virtual environments for learning, there has been little research on the perspectives of both instructors and students from different cultural backgrounds toward using a VLE. Thus, to gain insight into both instructors’ and students’ perspectives with different cultural backgrounds toward using a VLE, this paper conducted a qualitative exploratory case study. For more interactive learning, the VLE of the study was designed in Second Life which is one of the 3D VLEs and equipped with screen sharing software. In addition, one facilitator provided the technical and language translation support throughout the research process. Then, this paper also endeavored to determine educational implications of this new approach based on its findings. © 2015 Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
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This study is centred around social research that aims to reconstruct relevant knowledge on the contemporary VR work environment. More particularly, we seek to answer three research questions. First, we seek an understanding of elements and factors within the VR work environment that influence an individual’s productivity. Second, we explore how a VR work environment can impact individuals’ well-being. Finally, we investigate what can strengthen the formal and informal interactions between individuals and subsequently knit collaborative ties.
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Research inspired by terror management theory has demonstrated that mortality salience (MS) triggers defense of one’s self-esteem and cultural worldview, for instance in terms of in-group identification. A necessary pre-condition is that this in-group contributes to a positive self-evaluation by being successful in relevant social comparisons. Unsuccessful in-groups pose an identity-threat and trigger dis-identification. Nowadays, virtual worlds and avatars offer new pathways to in-group identification and self-enhancement, raising the question which virtual groups and self-representations serve terror-management needs. The current study examined this question in a life simulation game. Participants either wrote about their death or a control topic before they were confronted with an identity-buffering (successful) versus identity-threatening (unsuccessful) virtual in-group, manipulated via ethnicity. Subsequently, preference for in-group avatars and identification with the virtual group were assessed. The results confirmed an increased identification after MS only when one’s identity was buffered. Results are discussed with regard to their implications.
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The individuals and organizations in a variety of industries are experimenting with new ways to use virtual worlds as a complementary means to the real world for communicating, collaborating, and organizing economic activity with the growth of broadband Internet access. One of the main assumptions cited as a key differentiator of virtual worlds over more traditional technologies is that there is something unique to the 3D environment of virtual worlds that provides a richer, more immersive experience. 3D environments are objectively rich because there is synchronous contact, the visual stimuli, objects, and environmental designs offer a variety of social cues, and communication occurs through multiple channels, including audio, visual, and text. Virtual worlds allow users to progress at their own pace, offering different levels of challenges and capabilities to ensure a skill-ability balance for users.
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Invisible social identities influence social interaction in distinct ways and create unique dynamics in terms of identity management. We integrate research from the sexuality, illness, and racial diversity literature, as well as the stigma, disclosure, and identity literature, to create a generalized model of invisible identity management. We focus specifically on revealing and passing strategies of identity management and conclude by discussing the implications of invisible differences for diversity research.
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Drawing on interview data with black-white biracial adults, we examine the considerable agency most have in asserting their racial identities to others. Extending research on “identity work” (Snow and Anderson 1987), we explore the strategies biracial people use to conceal (i.e., pass), cover, and/or accent aspects of their racial ancestries, and the individual and structural-level factors that limit the accessibility and/or effectiveness of some strategies. We further find that how these biracial respondents identify is often contextual—most identify as biracial, but in some contexts, they pass as monoracial. Scholars argue that passing may be a relic of the past, yet we find that passing still occurs today. Most notably, we find a striking reverse pattern of passing today—while passing during the Jim Crow era involved passing as white, these respondents more often report passing as black today. Motivations for identity work are explored, with an emphasis on passing as black.
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This study investigates the phenomenon of intensive remedial identity work by exploring responses to the trauma and stigma of adult bullying at work. It analyses the narratives of 20 workers who reported being bullied at work, in which they talk about persistent emotional abuse and their shifting, intensifying identity work in response. The following specific questions are explored: (a) what threats to identity does workplace bullying trigger?; (b) what are the types and remedial goals of identity work?; (c) what is the processual nature of this identity work? Analysis resulted in seven inter-related types of identity work: first-and second-level stabilizing, sensemaking, reconciling, repairing, grieving and restructuring. Each of these was associated with specific identity threats and a constellation of remedial goals. Comparative analysis among self-narratives suggested that identity work occurred in three approximate phases associated with abuse onset, escalation and cessation. Findings extend understanding of intensive remedial identity work in the face of persistently traumatic and stigmatizing organizational experiences.
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Demographic research and anecdotal evidence suggest that, historically, games have been dominated by male players. However, newer research shows gains by female players, especially in online games. Therefore, how gamers perceive the masculinity of other gamers in game has become relevant. Two experiments examine how two variables – game genre and player skill – inform gender perception in online games. Results from both studies show that game genre is a salient cue for gender perception, but that perception of player skill is not. A number of gender differences in perceptions of player skill and the relationship between genre and perceptions of player masculinity are also identified. These findings are an important first step in understanding the perception of others in online entertainment environments.
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Contrary to research that suggests Blacks can only be reached effectively with Black-oriented media, this research demonstrates that there appears to be a subset of the Black population that can be reached equally well with White targeted media as they can with Black-targeted media. The study findings confirm expectations that Blacks’ differential responses to race-targeted Web sites are mediated by their level of ethnic identification. Blacks with strong ethnic identities spent more time browsing a site and viewing each story when the site was targeted to Blacks than Whites. Blacks with strong ethnic identities also rated the site and the stories more favorably when browsing the Black-targeted site compared to the White-targeted site. In contrast, Blacks with weak ethnic identities displayed no difference in their browsing time on the sites and stories or their rating of the sites and stories based on the racial target of the Internet site.
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This study explores the relatively new idea that individuals engage with media in an effort to meet their social identity needs. Specifically, the study broadens the social identity gratifications (SIG) approach to the domain of ethnicity by examining how African Americans’ ethnic identity gratifications selection and avoidance are related to their perceptions of ingroup vitality. Two mediation models involving level of ethnic identification are proposed. Although the model of television selection is not supported, the model of television avoidance is supported. Implications and future research are discussed.
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This article explores avatar appearance of 211 individuals in the virtual world Second Life (SL). Through analysis of observations, online interviews, and a survey, it examines the ways that players use avatars to perform self contextualized by group identities, from gender, race, and sexuality to specific communities, such as furries or role players. Drawing on literature from fashion and dress, we examine how players choose avatar appearance in relation to participation or alignment with groups and their prevailing social norms. We found that although Second Life provides unprecedented freedom in appearance, local social contexts, as much as external ones, created powerful boundaries and expectations, leading many participants to seek socially acceptable appearance that would be interpreted in certain ways as part of their interactions.
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This paper investigates impression management and misrepresentation in chat rooms (a form of computer‐mediated communication, or CMC) from the vantage point of 10 chat room participants. The grounded theory approach was employed to derive a model firmly rooted in participants’ accounts. The resultant model reveals the motivations for engaging in impression management, the strategies used while in the chat rooms, as well as the goals achieved during this process. To illustrate the model, the experience of 1 chat room user is detailed. By producing a set of relationships among concepts, this study represents chat room participants’ experiences in a meaningful and coherent way. Findings are linked to extant theory and the value of this study is explored.
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Considers the fact that experimental results may be interpreted in 2 different ways according to 2 different theories. M. M. Page's (see 43:6) interpretation of his experimental results in a classical conditioning of attitudes experiment, and B. H. Cohen's (see 39:1) suggestion that classical conditioning of meaning may be attributed to S's "awareness" instead of the conditioning process are questioned. Studies are presented that support the "classical conditioning analysis of attitude formation in contrast to the 'demand aware' interpretation." (20 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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In this paper, we investigate racial diversity in avatar design and public discussions about race within a large-scale teen virtual world called Whyville.net with more than 1.5 million registered players ages 8-16. One unique feature of Whyville is the players' ability to customize their avatars with various face parts and accessories, all designed and sold by other players in Whyville. Our findings report on the racial diversity of available resources for avatar construction and online postings about the role of race in avatar design and social interactions in the community. With the growing interest in player-generated content for online worlds such as Second Life, our discussion will address the role of avatars in teen identity development and self-representation, and the role of virtual entrepreneurs and community activists in increasing the diversity of avatar parts available.
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The study extends research on the Proteus effect by demonstrating that avatars can prime negative attitudes and cognition in desktop virtual settings. Experiment 1 shows that, after virtual group discussions, participants using black-cloaked avatars developed more aggressive intentions and attitudes but less group cohesion than those using white-cloaked avatars. In Experiment 2, individual participants using a Ku Klux Klan (KKK)-associated avatar created more aggressive Thematic Apperception Test stories in comparison to a control group. Participants using the KKK avatar also wrote less affiliative stories in comparison to those employing avatars dressed as doctors. Overall, the resulting pattern of activation of negative thoughts (i.e., aggression) coupled with the inhibition of inconsistent thoughts (i.e., cohesion, affiliation) is consistent with principles of current priming models and provides initial evidence for automatic cognitive priming in virtual settings.
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Virtual environments allow individuals to dramatically alter their self-representation. More important, studies have shown that people infer their expected behaviors and attitudes from observing their avatar's appearance, a phenomenon known as the Proteus effect. For example, users given taller avatars negotiated more aggressively than users given shorter avatars. Two studies are reported here that extend our understanding of this effect. The first study extends the work beyond laboratory settings to an actual online community. It was found that both the height and attractiveness of an avatar in an online game were significant predictors of the player's performance. In the second study, it was found that the behavioral changes stemming from the virtual environment transferred to subsequent face-to-face interactions. Participants were placed in an immersive virtual environment and were given either shorter or taller avatars. They then interacted with a confederate for about 15 minutes. In addition to causing a behavioral difference within the virtual environment, the authors found that participants given taller avatars negotiated more aggressively in subsequent face-to-face interactions than participants given shorter avatars. Together, these two studies show that our virtual bodies can change how we interact with others in actual avatar-based online communities as well as in subsequent face-to-face interactions.
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This paper presents two experimental studies investigating the effects of presenting cues that provide information about the interactors – called cues to identity – in computer mediated communications (CMCs). Study 1 shows that even though cues to identity affected interpersonal evaluations, in making them more positive, the presence of these cues were associated with less certainty and less medium satisfaction for users with experience in online communication. Study 2 shows that when performing an online communication task, participants felt more certain, were more satisfied with the medium, and thought they had performed better in the absence of cues to identity. Thus, this study supports the widespread assumption that rich interactions (i.e., interactions that allow the transmission of cues to identity such as face-to-face) are superior in that they make the interaction more personal, but that these outcomes are not mirrored by the evaluation of the interaction. It is suggested that the presence of cues to identity positively affects interpersonal perceptions, but at the same time decreases perceptions of solidarity or entitativity.
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This paper investigates whether the nature of an online environment can prime users to create avatars that emphasize particular characteristics. Participants created an avatar for one of three contrasting settings: blogging, dating or gaming. For the most part, avatars in blogging were created to accurately reflect their owners’ physical appearance, lifestyle and preferences. By contrast, participants in the dating and gaming treatments accentuated certain aspects of their avatar to reflect the tone and perceived expectations of the context. For instance, avatars in dating were made to look more attractive while avatars in gaming were made to look more intellectual. Yet, predominantly, these emphasized avatar attributes drew on participants’ self-image, and thus avatars were perceived by their owners as highly similar to themselves. The implications of these results are discussed against current frameworks of online identity and behavior. Most importantly, we use our results to extract design recommendations for improving avatar-driven applications.
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Interactivity has become ubiquitous in the digital media landscape. Numerous interactive tools are designed, tested, deployed and evaluated. Yet, we do not have generalizable knowledge about the larger concept of interactivity and its psychological impact on user experience. As a first step toward a theory of interface interactivity, this paper identifies three species of interactivity corresponding to three central elements of communication - source, medium, and message. Interactivity situated in any of these three loci of communication can provide cues and affordances that operate either individually or together to capture users' attention and determine the nature and depth of their processing of online content as well as contribute to their perceptions, attitudes and behavioral intentions. This paper discusses psychological mechanisms by which the three classes of interactivity tools affect users, with the specific purpose of drawing out design implications and outlining UI challenges for strategic development of interactive interfaces.
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An increasingly large number of users connect to virtual worlds on a regular basis to conduct activities ranging from gaming to business meetings. In all these worlds, users project themselves into the environment via an avatar: a 3D body which they control and whose appearance is often customizable. However, considering the prevalence of this form of embodiment, there is a surprising lack of data about how and why users customize their avatar, as well as how easy and satisfying the existing avatar creation tools are. In this paper, we report on a study investigating these issues through a questionnaire administered to more than a hundred users of three virtual worlds offering widely different avatar creation and customization systems (Maple Story, World of Warcraft, and Second Life). We illustrate the often-surprising choices users make when creating their digital representation and discuss the impact of our findings for the design of future avatar creation systems.
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Distributed teams are increasingly common in today' s workplace. For these teams, face-to-face meetings where members can most easily build trust are rare and of ten cost- prohibitive. 3D virtual worlds and games may provid e an alternate means for encouraging team development due to their affordances for facile communication, emotional engagement, and social interaction among participants. Using pr inciples derived from social psychological theory, we have d esigned and built a collection of team-building games within th e popular virtual world Second Life. We detail here the desig n decisions made in the creation of these games and discuss how they evolved based on early participant observations.
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Software designers often attempt to increase the customizability of their products to facilitate human–computer interaction and improve user response. However, exactly how customizability affects online gaming is unclear. This study posits that customization enhances gamer immersion satisfaction and loyalty. The study sample consists of 865 online gamers who provided valid responses to an online survey.Three models are compared using structural equation modeling: a partial mediator model, in which customization increases gamer loyalty directly and indirectly via enhanced immersion satisfaction; a full mediator model, in which immersion satisfaction fully mediates how customization influences loyalty; and an independent variable model, in which customization and immersion satisfaction are independent variables impacting gamer loyalty. The results of this study demonstrate that the partial mediator model significantly outperforms the other two models, suggesting that online game providers that increase customization and satisfy gamer needs regarding immersion can better foster gamer loyalty.
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The acclaimed social psychologist offers an insider’s look at his research and groundbreaking findings on stereotypes and identity.Claude M. Steele, who has been called “one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.
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journal published by Elsevier. The attached copy is furnished to the author for internal non-commercial research and education use, including for instruction at the authors institution and sharing with colleagues. Other uses, including reproduction and distribution, or selling or licensing copies, or posting to personal, institutional or third party websites are prohibited. In most cases authors are permitted to post their version of the article (e.g. in Word or Tex form) to their personal website or institutional repository. Authors requiring further information regarding Elsevier's archiving and manuscript policies are encouraged to visit: a b s t r a c t While prior studies have investigated factors, processes and pathways traversed in user innovation and user entrepreneurship within the real world, there is scant attention for user innovation and user entrepreneurship that take place within the virtual world. We report on an exploratory study of a select group of user innovators-entrepreneurs in Second Life, using virtual participant observation and in-depth interviews. Results suggest that the paths traversed by user innovators and user entrepreneurs in the virtual life broadly resemble those in the real life as reported in the literature. Interestingly, our study also suggests that Second Life as a virtual world breeds opportunities leading to entrepreneurial acts in the 'real' world as well as further opportunities in the Second Life. The virtual world itself, as a technological platform, also generates a range of opportunities. We formulate testable propositions and further link our insights to existing research on the drivers and pathways of user innovation and entrepreneurship in the 'real' world (i.e., the role of prior knowledge and networks), Austrian economics theory of entrepreneurial discovery, and creative collective theory.
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This article focuses on questioning and theorizing the visual and discursive disappearance of blackness from virtual fantasy worlds. Using EverQuest, EverQuest II, and World of Warcraft as illustrative of a timeline of character creation design trends, this article argues that the disappearance of blackness is a gradual erasure facilitated by multicultural design strategies and regressive racial logics. Contemporary fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) privilege whiteness and contextualize it as the default selection, rendering any alterations in coloration or racial selection exotic stylistic deviations. Given the Eurocentrism inherent in the fantasy genre and embraced by MMORPGs, in conjunction with commonsense conceptions of Blacks as hyper-masculine and ghettoized in the gamer imaginary, players and designers do not see blackness as appropriate for the discourse of heroic fantasy. As a result, reductive racial stereotypes and representations proliferate while productive and politically disruptive racial differences are ejected or neutralized through fantastical proxies.
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a "2 1/2 D" world in which the ueI looks at their avatar from a third person perspective.Althouc it is not a three dimensional space, Iwou] argu that it still very muy constituI) avirtu[ environment (as text-based MUDs --mu0[CI)'] du0[CI or dimensions -- do). Users engage in real time with an immersive simusive world in which objects and others occus the space. Avatar bodies (of which there are ten varieties in The Dreamscape -- five male and five female) can be changed at will bypu'9WCI)' new ones (both via "inworld" tokens or "real" credit cards). Avatar heads, which are separate and different objects from the rest of the avatar body, more commonly operate as the main means ofcu0"PI)[5[' andindividu)[5[ in the world. They too can bepu889PPI and are also often given as prizes or gifts. These heads and bodies can befu855[ cu55[[I)[ throu[ the ue of "spray paints" to change the color of the clothes, skin, and hair. Finally, many different accessories(sue as hats and je
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This study examines the patterns of racial identity expression for 174 African American adolescent females and 111 African American adolescent males between the ages of 14 and 18. Participants were given the Black Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS-B) as an assessment of attitudes that characterize self-concept issues concerning race. It was predicted that African American adolescents would predominantly endorse internalization attitudes, and endorse pre-encounter attitudes the least. It was further predicted that there would be a difference in pattern expression for males and females. Results revealed that African American adolescents widely endorsed internalization attitudes that represent a healthy, self-defined racial transcendence. African American adoles-centfemales endorsed significantly less pre-encounter attitudes (prediscovery of racial identity) than their male counterparts. Racial identity development as part of the global search for identity of adolescence and the present limitations in measuring adolescent racial identity attitudes are discussed.
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This study examines whether White majority and Black minority members differ in selecting news stories that featured either individuals of their own group or dissimilar others. Hypotheses derived from social-cognitive theory, social comparison theory, and distinctiveness theories were tested utilizing unobtrusive observations of news story selections. This selective exposure research design overcomes methodological constraints of previous experimental studies that employed self-reports and forced-exposure techniques to measure responses of Blacks and Whites to race-specific media sources. Our sample consisted of 112 Blacks and 93 Whites, who browsed 10 online news stories while exposure was unobtrusively logged via software. The news site displayed equal numbers of Black and White characters, with the pictures associated with the news stories rotated across participants. Results indicate that Whites showed no preference based on the race of the character featured in the news story. In contrast, Blacks strongly preferred news stories featuring Blacks and spent more than twice the reading time on them compared to exposure to news stories featuring Whites.
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Can the workplace be redesigned to include avatars, three-dimensional environments, and a host of virtual rewards that form newly transparent reputations for you and your team? This grounded and thought-provoking book by Byron Reeves and Leighton Read argues that it is not only possible, it is inevitable. Massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) are a new cultural phenomenon at the intersection of electronic entertainment and social networking. Borrowing the key design principles from these games can address a host of classic challenges in the workplace including collaboration, innovation, leadership, and of course, boredom. No longer the sole domain of adolescent boys, today’s best complex social games capture countless of hours of attention from men and women across the age spectrum who are carrying out activities in these entertainment titles that look surprisingly like the same tasks being performed by enterprise information-workers. There is a lot to be learned from the context that makes this behavior engaging, for example: positioning tasks within compelling stories that matter to the player, providing the tools for internal marketplaces where economic behavior replaces command and control, and affordances that help solve the problem of “what do I get when we win” Reeves and Read show how to choose and implement the right elements for your business. Of course, the psychological power of game design can have both positive and negative consequences for the workplace. That’s why it’s important to put them into practice correctly from the beginning–and Reeves and Read explain how by showing which good design principles are powerful antidotes to the addictive and stress-inducing potential of games. Supported by specific case studies and years of research, Total Engagement completely changes the way you view both work and play.
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Examined whether the salience of an individual group member's gender would depend on the group's sex composition. According to W. J. McGuire's (1984) distinctiveness theory, even for "momentary" or ad hoc groups, gender would be more salient in the spontaneous self-concepts of members of the minority sex in mixed-sex groups than in other conditions. To test this prediction experimentally, 192 undergraduates (aged 17–55 yrs) were divided into 3-person groups in which the sex composition was manipulated. This resulted in 4 types: all male, all female, lone male, and lone female. Within these group contexts, Ss responded to 2 open-ended probes of spontaneous self-concept (i.e., "Tell me what you are" and "Tell me what you are not"), with order counterbalanced, and subsequently completed a structured measure of gender identity (Personal Attributes Questionnaire). Chi-square analyses of whether gender was mentioned on the "Tell me about yourself" probe supported the distinctiveness theory. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Taking part in an experiment is "a special form of social interaction." The S plays a role and places himself under the control of the E; he may agree "to tolerate a considerable degree of discomfort, boredom, or actual pain, if required to do so." The very high degree of control inherent in the experimental situation itself may lead to difficulties in experimental design. The S "must be recognized as an active participant in any experiment." With understanding of factors intrinsic to experimental context, experimental method in psychology may become a more effective tool in predicting behavior in nonexperimental contexts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The methodology and content of 9 published studies on the workplace experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are examined. Findings are integrated within 5 areas of common content: the pervasiveness of discrimination in the workplace, formal and informal types of discrimination, fear of discrimination, variability of workers in their openness about sexual orientation, and correlates of workers' degree of openness vs concealment of sexual orientation. The methodology employed in existing research is examined focusing specifically on sampling, data collection, and analyses and presentation of results. Recommendations are made for improving those aspects of methodology in future studies. Ideas for expanding the scope of the content and methodology of research concerning the workplace experiences of this population are presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This study examined how generally theories of taste performance, identity warranting, and social capital formation could be applied to behavior on MySpace. New MySpace members (N = 365) was tracked for 7 weeks to determine how frequently boundary conditions for these theories were satisfied. Most new members rarely visited their profiles, did little to personalize them, and did not list friends or receive comments from others during the 7-week study period. Therefore theories of taste performance, identity warranting, and social capital formation apply only to a minority of MySpace users. These findings limit the application of theories, but also point to new areas for research on social network sites and to a revised view of the interpersonal character of MySpace.
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This study analyzes the influence of avatars on social presence, interpersonal trust, perceived communication quality, nonverbal behavior, and visual attention in Net-based collaborations using a comparative approach. A real-time communication window including a special avatar interface was integrated into a shared collaborative workspace. Communication modes under investigation were text chat, audio, audio-video, and avatar. Significant differences were found between text chat and all other communication modalities in perceived intimateness, co-presence, and emotionally-based trust. Microanalyses of nonverbal activity and visual attention point to similarities between video and avatar modes, both showing higher levels of exposure to the virtual other and visual attention, in particular in the initial phase of interaction as compared to text and audio.
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This research examined how individuals’ gendered avatar might alter their use of gender-based language (i.e., references to emotion, apologies, and tentative language) in text-based computer-mediated communication. Specifically, the experiment tested if men and women would linguistically assimilate a virtual gender identity intimated by randomly assigned gendered avatars (either matched or mismatched to their true gender). Results supported the notion that gender-matched avatars increase the likelihood of gender-typical language use, whereas gender-mismatched avatars promoted countertypical language, especially among women. The gender of a partner’s avatar, however, did not influence participants’ language. Results generally comport with self-categorization theory’s gender salience explanation of gender-based language use.
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In social psychology, perspective-taking has been shown to be a reliable method in reducing negative social stereotyping. These exercises have until now only relied on asking a person to imagine themselves in the mindset of another person. We argue that immersive virtual environments provide the unique opportunity to allow individuals to directly take the perspective of another person and thus may lead to a greater reduction in negative stereotypes. In the current work, we report on an initial experimental investigation into the benefits of embodied perspective-taking in immersive virtual environments. It was found that negative stereotyping of the elderly was significantly reduced when participants were placed in avatars of old people compared with those participants placed in avatars of young people. We discuss the implications of these results on theories of social interaction and on copresence.
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To date, most inquiries into race and cyberspace have focused on the "digital divide" - whether racial minorities have access to advanced computing-communication technologies. This paper asks a more fundamental question: Can cyberspace change the way that race functions in American society? Professor Jerry Kang starts his analysis with a social-cognitive account of American racial mechanics that centers the role of racial schemas. These schemas consist of racial categories, rules of racial mapping that place individuals into these categories, and racial meanings associated with each category. He argues that cyberspace can disrupt racial schemas because it alters the architecture of both identity presentation (enabling racial anonymity and pseudonymity) and social interaction (enabling increased interracial interactions). Thus, cyberspace presents society with three design options: abolition, which challenges racial mapping by promoting racial anonymity; integration, which reforms racial meanings by promoting interracial social interaction; and transmutation, which disrupts the very notion of fixed racial categories by promoting racial pseudonymity (or "cyber-passing"). After analyzing each option's merits, Professor Kang concludes that society need not adopt a single, uniform design strategy for all of cyberspace. Instead, society can embrace a policy of digital diversification, which explicitly zones different cyber spaces according to different racial environments. For example, most market places could be zoned abolition, whereas most social spaces could be zoned integration. By encouraging a diversified policy portfolio, society can exploit synergies created by flexible zoning while avoiding policy lock-in. Although cyberspace is no panacea for the racial conflicts and inequality that persist, it offers new possibilities for furthering racial justice that should not be wasted.
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This paper experimentally examines the effects of passing (versus revealing) a contextually devalued identity on performance-related self-confidence. An experimental scenario was developed on the basis of the results of a pilot study. Studies 1 and 2 (total N = 255) experimentally manipulate passing versus revealing a contextually devalued identity, to an ingroup or an outgroup partner. The results show that, although passing makes participants believe that their partner has more positive expectations of them, it also undermines performance-related self-confidence. Moreover, the results show that negative self-directed affect (i.e., guilt and shame) mediated the negative effect of passing on performance-related self-confidence. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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What makes customization so appealing? Is it because the content is tailored or because the user feels greater agency? Study 1 tested these propositions with a news-aggregator Website that was either personalized (system-tailored), customized (user-tailored), or neither. Power users rated content quality higher when it had a customizable interface, whereas nonpower users preferred personalized content. In Study 2, half the participants were told that their browsing information may be used for providing requested services while the other half was told that it would not be used. The interaction found in Study 1 was observed only under conditions of low privacy, with the pattern being reversed under high privacy. Significant three-way interactions were found for sense of control and perceived convenience.
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Internet technology has made possible the widespread dissemination of individualized media messages, but we know very little about their psychological import. A between-subjects experiment (N =60) with three levels of customization (low, medium, high) was designed to examine whether greater levels of personalized content engender more positive attitudes. The results not only confirm this hypothesis but also reveal the mediating role played by users’ perceptions of relevance, involvement, interactivity, and novelty of portal content. In addition, customization has behavioral effects in that it affects users’ browsing activity.
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Virtual environments, such as online games and web-based chat rooms, increasingly allow us to alter our digital self-representations dramatically and easily. But as we change our self-representations, do our self-representations change our behavior in turn? In 2 experimental studies, we explore the hypothesis that an individual’s behavior conforms to their digital self-representation independent of how others perceive them—a process we term the Proteus Effect. In the first study, participants assigned to more attractive avatars in immersive virtual environments were more intimate with confederates in a self-disclosure and interpersonal distance task than participants assigned to less attractive avatars. In our second study, participants assigned taller avatars behaved more confidently in a negotiation task than participants assigned shorter avatars. We discuss the implications of the Proteus Effect with regards to social interactions in online environments.
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Online three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds are emerging technologies that offer unique learning opportunities for traditional and distributed education. One of the more popular 3D virtual worlds, Active Worlds, is currently being used as a medium for synchronous and asynchronous distance learning. This investigation presents two exploratory case studies of different, but exemplary educational activities using Active Worlds for formal and informal education. The focus of each case study is to investigate how Active Worlds is being used for distance learning and to determine the type of learning experiences afforded  by  this  3D  virtual  environment.  Whilst  more  research  is  necessary to explore fully the potential of 3D virtual worlds for learning, this initial investigation illustrates how Active Worlds affords opportunities for experiential learning and situated learning within a collaboration learning environment.
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Being in the numerical minority can impair intellectual performance. We suggest, however, that these negative effects need not extend to everyone because some people—specifically high self-monitors—can overcome the effects of situationally activated stereotypes. In two studies, we manipulated the race/sex composition of small groups and assessed intellectual performance. Results revealed that: (a) self-monitoring moderated the effects of group-composition on performance, such that it was positively related to performance in stressful minority settings, (b) the number of out-group members in a group caused a linear effect on performance that differed for high and low self-monitors, and (c) stereotype activation mediated self-monitoring’s moderating effect on performance. Thus, high self-monitors may be resilient to threatening environments because they react to negative stereotypes with increased (and not decreased) performance. We discuss these results in relation to theories of inter-group contact, stereotype threat, and stress and coping.
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Traditional concepts of identity emphasize race to the exclusion of life span criteria. Race based models ignore the human behavior of biracial Americans in their social environment. Conversely, a substantial portion of the scholarly literature advocates social experience rather than physiological attributes as keystone to individual identity development. In the aftermath biracial Americans are conflicted. In an effort to insure their psychic health, scholars and practitioners must inculcate an identity development across the life span model to accommodate the nation’s increasing level of ethnic and racial miscegenation.
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While many reports espouse the potential impact that 3-D virtual worlds are expected to have on teaching and learning in higher education in a few years, there are few empirical studies that inform instructional design and learning assessment in virtual worlds. This study explores the nature and process of learning in Second Life in a graduate interdisciplinary communication course in fall 2007. Literature suggests that 3-D virtual worlds can be well suited for experiential learning environments. In this study, the actual instructional effectiveness of Second Life as an experiential learning environment for interdisciplinary communication is empirically examined using mixed research methods of journal content analysis, surveys, focus group, and virtual world snapshots and video.