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.
Entertainment Software Association (5 September 2014)‘Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry’Entertainment Software AssociationRetrieved 5 September 2014 from http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf
Goto-JonesChris‘Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World: An Experiment in Real Exploration, Actual Travel, Constructed Worlds, and Emancipation (in/from Japan)’Asiascape: Digital Asia201411-2104126
GroomVictoriaNassCliffordChenTinaNielsenAlexiaScarboroughJames K.RoblesErica‘Evaluating the Effects of Behavioral Realism in Embodied Agents’International Journal of Human-Computer Studies20096710842849
KashimaYoshihisaYamaguchiSusumuKimUicholChoiSsang-ChinGelfandMichele J.YukiMasaki‘Culture, Gender, and Self: A Perspective from Individualism-Collectivism Research’Journal of Personality and Social Psychology1995695925937
NorenzayanAraChoiIncheolNisbettRichard E.‘Cultural Similarities and Differences in Social Inference: Evidence from Behavioral Predictions and Lay Theories of Behavior’Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin2002281109120
RheeEunUlemanJames S.LeeHoon K.RomanRobert J.‘Spontaneous Self-Descriptions and Ethnic Identities in Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultures’Journal of Personality and Social Psychology1995691142152
SingelisTheodore M.TriandisHarry C.BhawukDharm P.GelfandMichele J.‘Horizontal and Vertical Dimensions of Individualism and Collectivism: A Theoretical and Measurement Refinement’Cross-Cultural Research1995293240275