Title

The Effects of Virtual Actions on Real World Behaviors

Presenter Information

Brian Miller
Kelly Boozer

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effect of virtual avatars on health behaviors in the real world. Previous research indicates that actions performed by a virtual avatar can result in behavioral changes in the person watching the avatar. In the current study, participants were undergraduate psychology students at Central Washington University. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: 1) creating an avatar of themselves and exercising with it; 2) creating an avatar of themselves and not exercising with it; 3) using a control avatar and exercising with it; or 4) using a control avatar and not exercising with it. It was hypothesized that participants who had watched an avatar with an appearance similar to them exercise in a virtual reality would be inclined to engage in more healthy behaviors in the real world, such as eating less candy and planning to exercise more when compared to participants in the other three groups. In addition to measures of their inclination to healthy behaviors immediately after the manipulation, participants were asked about their agreement that the avatar looked like them (i.e., avatar copresence), their anxiety in working out (i.e., social physique anxiety), their typical reasons for exercising, and their activity levels 48- hours after the experimental manipulation .The results of this study should have implications for developing low-cost, online treatments or activities that can improve health-related behaviors.

Poster Number

48

Faculty Mentor(s)

Kara Gabriel, Terry DeVietti, Susan Lonborg

Additional Mentoring Department

Psychology

Additional Mentoring Department

Psychology

Additional Mentoring Department

Psychology

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May 16th, 2:15 PM May 16th, 4:44 PM

The Effects of Virtual Actions on Real World Behaviors

SURC Ballroom C/D

The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effect of virtual avatars on health behaviors in the real world. Previous research indicates that actions performed by a virtual avatar can result in behavioral changes in the person watching the avatar. In the current study, participants were undergraduate psychology students at Central Washington University. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: 1) creating an avatar of themselves and exercising with it; 2) creating an avatar of themselves and not exercising with it; 3) using a control avatar and exercising with it; or 4) using a control avatar and not exercising with it. It was hypothesized that participants who had watched an avatar with an appearance similar to them exercise in a virtual reality would be inclined to engage in more healthy behaviors in the real world, such as eating less candy and planning to exercise more when compared to participants in the other three groups. In addition to measures of their inclination to healthy behaviors immediately after the manipulation, participants were asked about their agreement that the avatar looked like them (i.e., avatar copresence), their anxiety in working out (i.e., social physique anxiety), their typical reasons for exercising, and their activity levels 48- hours after the experimental manipulation .The results of this study should have implications for developing low-cost, online treatments or activities that can improve health-related behaviors.