Herrera, F., Bailenson, J.N. (2021). Virtual reality perspective- taking at scale: Effect of avatar representation, choice, and head movement on prosocial behaviors. Virtual reality perspective-taking at scale: Effect of avatar representation, choice, and head movement on prosocial behaviors. New Media & Society. 23(8):2189-2209. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444821993121
The present investigation examined the effect of avatar representation, choice, and head movement on prosocial behaviors and measures of presence after a virtual reality perspective-taking (VRPT) task. Participants were either represented by a set of virtual hands or had no representation during a VRPT task. Of those with hands, only half were able to choose their skin tone. Results showed that there was no significant advantage to having an avatar representation. However, if participants had an avatar and were able to choose their own skin tone, a higher proportion of participants performed prosocial behaviors and reported higher social presence scores compared with participants who had no choice. Regardless of condition, head rotations significantly predicted petition signatures such that the more participants rotated their heads side to side, the more likely they were to sign the petition. Moreover, when participants do not consistently rotate their head side to side, the proportion of petitions signed is on par with individuals who do not complete a VRPT task at all.