Understanding Group Behavior in Virtual Reality: A Large-Scale, Longitudinal Study in the Metaverse

72nd Annual International Communication Association Conference, Paris, France.

27 Pages Posted: 18 May 2022

See all articles by Eugy Han

Eugy Han

Stanford University - Department of Communication

Mark Roman Miller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Nilam Ram

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Kristine L. Nowak

Department of Communication

Jeremy N. Bailenson

Stanford University - Department of Communication

Date Written: May 14, 2022

Abstract

Networked virtual reality (VR) allows people to interact via avatars. The metaverse, or the promise of experiences in immersive digital worlds, is technologically possible but a surprisingly small number of experiments have examined group interaction in immersive collaborative virtual environments. Previous work typically involves small samples, focuses on dyads or triads, and looks at behavior in only a single session. The current study, housed within a 10-week course about VR, examined collaborative groups. Eighty-one participants, separated into eight groups, met eight times using VR headsets on a networked platform. After each meeting, participants completed a questionnaire about their experience. During half the meetings, participants wore customized avatars similar to their offline selves, while in the other half, participants wore uniform avatars. Quantitative and qualitative data demonstrated the critical role of time, both in developing group cohesion and the efficacy of VR as a medium. Embodying avatars which resembled users increased self-presence, but decreased enjoyment, compared to having uniform avatars. We discuss theoretical implications and provide suggestions for designers of VR platforms and curricula.

Keywords: time, networked, virtual reality, avatars

Suggested Citation

Han, Eugy and Miller, Mark and Ram, Nilam and Nowak, Kristine and Bailenson, Jeremy N., Understanding Group Behavior in Virtual Reality: A Large-Scale, Longitudinal Study in the Metaverse (May 14, 2022). 72nd Annual International Communication Association Conference, Paris, France., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4110154

Eugy Han (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Communication

Stanford, CA 94305-2050
United States

Mark Miller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Nilam Ram

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Kristine Nowak

Department of Communication ( email )

215 Glenbrook Road, U-4098
Storrs, CT 06269-4098
United States

Jeremy N. Bailenson

Stanford University - Department of Communication ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2050
United States

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