Self-Representations in Immersive Virtual Environments1


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    The authors thank Eyal Aharoni, Andy Beall, Michelle Denni, Alex Dollman, Tim German, Crystal Hoyt, Jack Loomis, Kim Swinth, Max Weisbuch, and Ariana Young for their comments on this paper; as well as Meg Brzezinska, Kelly Eversole, Nicole Moler, Mike Raimundo, and Annabelle Vicente for their assistance in data collection. The present research was sponsored in part by NSF Award SBE-9873432.

Jeremy N. Bailenson, Department of Communication, Stanford University, Building 120, Room 101, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-2050. E-mail:


This experiment varied whether individuals interacted with virtual representations of themselves or of others in an immersive virtual environment. In the self-representation condition, half of the participants interacted with a self-representation that bore photographic resemblance to them, whereas the other half interacted with a self-representation that bore no resemblance to them. In the other-representation condition, participants interacted with a representation of another individual. The experimental design was a 2 (Participant Gender) × 3 (Agent Identity: high-similarity self-representation vs. low-similarity self-representation vs. other representation). Overall, participants displayed more intimacy-consistent behaviors for representations of themselves than others. Implications of using immersive virtual environment technology for studying the self are discussed.