Bailenson, J.N. & Yee, N. (2008). Virtual interpersonal touch: Haptic interaction and copresence in collaborative virtual environments. International Journal of Multimedia Tools and Applications, 37(1), 5-14.
As digital communication becomes more commonplace and sensory rich, understanding the manner in which people interact with one another is crucial. In the current study, we examined the manners in which people touch digital representations of people, and compared those behaviors to the manner in which they touch digital representations of nonhuman objects. Results demonstrated that people used less force when touching people than other nonhuman objects, and that people touched the face with less force than the torso area. Finally, male digital representations were touched with more force than female representations by subjects of both genders. We discuss the implications of these data to the development of haptic communication systems as well as for a methodology of measuring the amount of copresence in virtual environments.