I See Myself through My Avatar: Evidence from East Asia and North America for Acculturated Effects on Virtual Representation Preference

in Asiascape: Digital Asia
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In the present research we argue that avatars, as identity containers, can mirror people’s self-concepts. Research in cultural psychology suggests that East Asians tend to be more tolerant of contradictions and that they more easily adjust their self-concepts in accordance with changing contexts compared to North Americans (see Heine 2001). We therefore assume that preferred forms of avatars among East Asians and North Americans are different because of this self-concept variability across cultures. We conducted a quasi-experiment to explore how people in the two cultures differently evaluate two forms of avatars, human-like and cartoon-like avatars, in terms of likeability and preference. We found that East Asians rated cartoon-like avatars more favourably than North Americans. Moreover, compared to North Americans, East Asians preferred cartoon-like avatars to human-like avatars for their hypothetical avatars to play games. We conclude by discussing implications for future research.

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