People, places, and time: a large-scale, longitudinal study of transformed avatars and environmental context in group interaction in the metaverse

Eugy Han, Mark R. Miller, Cyan DeVeaux, Hanseul Jun, Kristine L. Nowak, Jeffrey T. Hancock, Nilam Ram, Jeremy N. Bailenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


As the metaverse expands, understanding how people use virtual reality to learn and connect is increasingly important. We used the Transformed Social Interaction paradigm (Bailenson et al., 2004) to examine different avatar identities and environments over time. In Study 1 (n = 81), entitativity, presence, enjoyment, and realism increased over 8 weeks. Avatars that resembled participants increased synchrony, similarities in moment-to-moment nonverbal behaviors between participants. Moreover, self-avatars increased self-presence and realism, but decreased enjoyment, compared to uniform avatars. In Study 2 (n = 137), participants cycled through 192 unique virtual environments. As visible space increased, so did nonverbal synchrony, perceived restorativeness, entitativity, pleasure, arousal, self- and spatial presence, enjoyment, and realism. Outdoor environments increased perceived restorativeness and enjoyment more than indoor environments. Self-presence and realism increased over time in both studies. We discuss implications of avatar appearance and environmental context on social behavior in classroom contexts over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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