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Journal Article

Presence and Pronouns: An Exploratory Investigation into the Language of Social VR


As social virtual reality (VR) continues to grow as a medium for digital communication, sustaining presence among communicators remains one of the main constructs that researchers and practitioners use to assess the quality of user experience. In the present paper, we explore language patterns as a behavioral link to presence. We accomplished this through an exploratory text analysis of over 4,800 min of conversation in social VR, consisting of over 130,000 spoken words from 126 participants. We observed that the use of self-references and collective references positively correlated to social presence and spatial presence. Furthermore, median interpersonal distance between communicators was positively associated with using impersonal pronouns, suggesting that participants who stood farther apart from their interlocutors tended to speak in more impersonal terms. Our work sheds light on the possible psychological mechanisms behind presence and the potential of using speech data to help build systems that enhance user engagement.

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Cyan DeVeaux
David M. Markowitz
Jeremy N. Bailenson
Journal Name
Journal of Language and Social Psychology,
Publication Date
April 28, 2024