Avoidance and Attraction in Virtual Worlds: The Impact of Affiliative Tendency on Collaboration

By Paul Wallace.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The purpose of this empirical study was to investigate the impact of affiliative tendency on willingness to collaborate in virtual worlds with nonhuman avatars, and with those human avatars that differ from the user with respect to gender and ethnicity. Previous studies have shown that a majority of users of collaborative virtual worlds select avatars for self-representation that match their own physical features, such as gender and ethnicity. However, some users do choose avatars for self-representation that are nonhuman, possess different human physical features or are of the opposite sex. It has been found that there exist prejudices in virtual worlds related to the appearance of avatars in collaborative groups based on ethnicity, as well as non-human physical characteristics. The results from this study show that affiliative tendency does impact attitudes toward avatars that differ from the participant. Significant differences were found between high and low affiliative users, related to willingness to collaborate in varying degrees of intimacy in group activities with human outgroup and nonhuman avatars.

Keywords: Collaborative Virtual Environment, Distance Education, Collaboration, Social Interaction, Avatar, Affiliative Tendency

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.119-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.356MB).

Dr. Paul Wallace

Assistant Professor, Instructional Technology, Leadership and Educational Studies, Reich College of Education, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Paul Wallace received his Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from the University of Tennessee, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology in the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University. Previously he worked in Japan’s information technology industry and taught courses at the International University of Japan, and served as an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Guam. Dr. Wallace’s teaching focus is the integration of technology into the classroom. His courses all have a home in the AET Zone, a 3D immersive virtual world created at Appalachian State University that capitalizes on the qualities of virtual worlds to support social aspects of teaching and learning. His research interests include the design and development of virtual and augmented reality environments for education, and he has received funding from the U.S. Geological Survey to develop place-based mobile games for environmental education.

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