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Avatar Psychology

The explosive growth and dissemination of internetworking technology has changed what we may consider community, culture, and society. A major part of this movement toward the virtual is the use of self-representative avatars. Studies have demonstrated that interactions between humans while they are embodied in avatars have distinct psychological implications both for the user and for others who may interact with the virtual representation. Social scientists are beginning to study avatars as a way of understanding people. This chapter explores research on the effects of human avatar interaction as well as effects found to occur when people interact via technology-mediated environments. It will cover the concepts of presence (the feeling of being there) and social presence (the feeling that others are there as well) and detail the theories of transformed social interaction and the social influence model. Several practical applications and examples will be discussed as well.

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J.K. Scarborough
J.N. Bailenson
The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality
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