The Influence of Avatar Representation on Interpersonal Communication in Virtual Social Environments

Sahar Aseeri, Victoria Interrante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Current avatar representations used in immersive VR applications lack features that may be important for supporting natural behaviors and effective communication among individuals. This study investigates the impact of the visual and nonverbal cues afforded by three different types of avatar representations in the context of several cooperative tasks. The avatar types we compared are No_Avatar (HMD and controllers only), Scanned_Avatar (wearing an HMD), and Heal_Avatar (video-see-through). The subjective and objective measures we used to assess the quality of interpersonal communication include surveys of social presence, interpersonal trust, communication satisfaction, and attention to behavioral cues, plus two behavioral measures: duration of mutual gaze and number of unique words spoken. We found that participants reported higher levels of trustworthiness in the Real_Avatar condition compared to the Scanned_Avatar and No_Avatar conditions. They also reported a greater level of attentional focus on facial expressions compared to the No_Avatar condition and spent more extended time, for some tasks, attempting to engage in mutual gaze behavior compared to the Scanned_Avatar and No_Avatar conditions. In both the Heal_Avatar and Scanned_Avatar conditions, participants reported higher levels of co-presence compared with the No_Avatar condition. In the Scanned_Avatar condition, compared with the Heal_Avatar and No_Avatar conditions, participants reported higher levels of attention to body posture. Overall, our exit survey revealed that a majority of participants (66.67%) reported a preference for the Real_Avatar, compared with 25.00% for the Scanned_Avatar and 8.33% for the No_Avatar, These findings provide novel insight into how a user's experience in a social VR scenario is affected by the type of avatar representation provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Atmospheric measurements
  • Avatars
  • Particle measurements
  • Resists
  • Task analysis
  • Three-dimensional displays
  • Virtual environments
  • behavioral cues
  • communication satisfaction
  • interpersonal communication
  • social presence
  • trust
  • virtual environment

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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