Avatars (Virtual reality), Self disclosure, Strangers, Trust, Virtual reality
This study investigated the development of trust between strangers interacting via avatars in virtual worlds. The first part of the study analyzed perceived trustworthiness based on the visual appearance of avatars; the second part makes observations of two strangers self-disclosing information via avatars in a virtual world; the third part analyzed an experimental situation of two individuals interacting via avatars, where avatar appearance was changed and participants were recruited based on their experience with interacting with others via avatars. Findings showed that perceived trustworthiness does vary based on the visual appearance of the avatar. A positive relationship was found for self-disclosure and experience, in that those who have previously chosen to participate in a virtual world were more likely to share more detailed information about themselves. Non-significant differences in self-disclosure were found for avatar appearance; however, experience in using virtual worlds was significantly different for the willingness to share information before engaging in a task: experienced participants shared more information than inexperienced participants. This suggests that self-disclosure might be influenced by appearance at the point of formation in that the experienced are willing to overlook the avatar, and less so when there are other sources of information to base trust-behavior on (Altman & Taylor, 1973; Nowak & Rauh, 2006). Recommendations were made for modifications for similar experiments trying to validate an objective measure of trust, and for continued research in the development of trust between strangers interacting via avatars.
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Sims, Valerie K.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Surprenant, Amanda M., "Measuring Trust In Virtual Worlds: Avatar-mediated Self-disclosure" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2157.