Morality in tele-immersive environments

Segovia, K.Y., Bailenson, J.N., Monin, B. (2009). Morality in tele-immersive environments. Proceedings of the International Conference on Immersive Telecommunications (IMMERSCOM), May 27 – 29, Berkeley, CA, USA.


Humans are spending an increasing amount of time in tele-immersive environments interacting with avatars or virtual human bodies. Additionally, human behavior and cognition are affected by experiences in tele-immersive environments. Although there is substantial psychological work surrounding the notion of morality, there is little work that examines the interplay of immersive digital environments and the moral identity of the digital medium user. We conducted a study to explore how participants’ moral behaviors and self-ratings of morality changed after immersion in either a moral or immoral tele-immersive environment. Results revealed that participants who witnessed the immoral scenarios felt and acted more immoral than participants in the moral scenario condition. These findings have important implications for understanding the effects of digital media as well as for the study of the psychological construct of moral identity.