The Proteus Effect: Influence of Avatar Appearance on Social Interaction in Virtual Environments

  • Yulong Bian
  • Chao Zhou
  • Yu Tian
  • Peng Wang
  • Fengqiang GaoEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 529)


In virtual interactions, avatars can affect people’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors consciously or unconsciously, which is known as the Proteus effect. The study created a new paradigm of “virtual scenario simulation” to investigate the impact of avatars on social behavior in different social interaction contexts. Experiment 1 investigated the impact of avatars on social participation level in participating-social-interaction contexts. Experiment 2 extended the work to maintaining-interaction context. Results showed that: (1) both situational factor (social interaction contexts) and individual factor (shyness level) could affect the occurrence of the Proteus effect. (2) The Proteus effects were moderated by the social interaction contexts. (3) In the maintaining- interaction context, the Proteus effects were moderated by the level of shyness.


Proteus effect Virtual environment Avatar Shyness Social interaction 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yulong Bian
    • 1
  • Chao Zhou
    • 2
  • Yu Tian
    • 1
  • Peng Wang
    • 1
  • Fengqiang Gao
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of PsychologyShandong Normal UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.College of PsychologyLiaoning Normal UniversityDalianChina

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