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