A polythetic model of player-avatar identification: Synthesizing multiple mechanisms

Edward Downs, Nicholas D. Bowman, Jaime Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Identification is understood to be central to player-avatar relations in digital games however, extant literature is fragmented. Scholars tend to either treat discrete features of identification as equivalent to the broader construct or use a rigid, monothetic measurement architecture that potentially excludes some who may actually identify with a game avatar. Toward a more inclusive model, then, this study integrated different factors culled from the literature to develop a more comprehensive measurement scheme in which physical similarity, value homophily, wishful identification, perspective-taking, liking, and embodiment are all subconstructs that fall under the larger umbrella of the player-avatar identification construct. The second-order factor structure suggests the construct to be more complex than is currently engaged in the literature, and a polythetic approach to measuring identification is proposed for understanding gamers' connections with their avatars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-279
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Popular Media Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Avatars
  • Identification
  • Measures
  • Polythetic construct
  • Video games


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