Consensus and (lack of) accuracy in perceptions of avatar trustworthiness

Masha Machneva, Anthony Evans*, Olga Stavrova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

In some online interactions, people use avatars to represent themselves and judge whether interaction partners should be trusted. However, little is known about human accuracy in perceptions of avatar trustworthiness. We conducted a two-stage study to investigate whether people are able to accurately judge trustworthiness in avatars. In Stage 1, participants created avatars using avatarmaker.com and made decisions as trustees in an incentivized trust game (N = 360 avatars). In Stage 2, a new group of participants (N = 315 raters) were presented with avatars created in Stage 1; rated their trustworthiness; and made decisions about whether to trust them. We observed three main results: First, there was a high level of consensus in perceptions of avatar trustworthiness. Differences in trustworthiness judgments were mainly attributed to differences between avatars (rather than differences between raters). Second, raters' trust decisions were guided by their perceptions of avatar trustworthiness. Third, perceptions of avatar trustworthiness were not associated with actual trustworthiness of avatar creators. People were not, on average, able to accurately identify the actual trustworthiness of avatar creators from avatar appearance. Our results suggest that people erroneously rely on others’ avatar appearance in online interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107017
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume126
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

Keywords

  • 1ST IMPRESSIONS
  • Avatars
  • BEHAVIOR
  • CONTEXT
  • DECISIONS
  • FACE
  • JUDGMENTS
  • Judgment and decision making
  • PERSON PERCEPTION
  • SELF
  • SIMILARITY
  • Social dilemmas
  • TRUST
  • Trust

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