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Does Avatar Appearance Matter? How Team Visual Similarity and Member–Avatar Similarity Influence Virtual Team Performance



This multimethod study investigated how avatar appearance influences virtual team performance. This study is the first to integrate the framework of social identity model of de-individuation effects (SIDE) and Self-Identification theory, using “morphing” techniques. Results were obtained from a 2 (team visual similarity: dissimilar vs. similar team avatars) × 2 (member–avatar similarity: cartoon avatars vs. avatar similar to self) experiment (N = 240). The findings indicated that teams using “morphed team avatars,” which combined both a high degree of team visual similarity and member–avatar similarity in their appearances, performed best on the task, and showed greater social attraction than teams in the other conditions. Moreover, content analysis of the chat conversations revealed that these teams interacted more strategically and expressed a greater motivation to solve the task.