Emotional Contagion with Artificial Others. Effects of Culture, Physical Appearance, and Nonverbal Behavior on the Perception of Positive/Negative Affect in Avatars

  • Gary Bente
  • Thomas Dratsch
  • Diana Rieger
  • Ahmad Al-Issa
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8531)


In the present study, we investigated whether cultural stereotypes activated through the physical appearance of avatars would influence the perception of positive and negative affect in in- and out-group members. In a first study, forty-three German and forty Arab participants saw short video clips of a German and an Arab avatar displaying ambiguous nonverbal behavior. In spite of cultural stereotypes, both Arab and German participants attributed more positive emotions to the Arab avatar than to the German avatar. To further investigate these counterintuitive results, we conducted a follow-up study, in which fifty-two German and fifty-two Arab participants rated the valence of both avatars. Both German and Arab participants rated the Arab avatar significantly more positively than the German avatar. Taken together, the results of both studies show that the valence of avatars has the potential to override cultural stereotypes and influence the perception of positive and negative affect.


Culture Stereotypes Avatars Nonverbal Behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Bente
    • 1
  • Thomas Dratsch
    • 1
  • Diana Rieger
    • 1
  • Ahmad Al-Issa
    • 2
  1. 1.University of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.American University of SharjahSharjahUnited Arab Emirates

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