Effects of Behavioral Realism and Physical Appearance on Social Interaction Quality in Shared Virtual Environments
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Presentation at the 2nd Virtual Social Interaction Workshop, Media City, UK, (July 2016)

Avatar-mediated social interactions in shared virtual environments (SVEs) considerably differ from real-life interactions, as they often lack in reproducing the full range of social signals and behaviors (in real-time), such as facial expression and gaze. We investigated the impact of these deficiencies on the quality of social interaction. In a first study (N=36), we compared a motor driven collaborative task and a verbal driven negotiation task in real world and SVE. Users were immersed using head-mounted-displays and represented as mannequin-like avatars controlled with body tracking. The results suggest significant differences in networked minds/presence factors as well as motor performance. However, functional aspects of the negotiation task did not show significant differences. In a second study (N=64), we replicated the negotiation task and paid special attention to judgments of communication quality. While the results confirm similar functional negotiation outcomes, preliminary results show that users subjectively rated a lower effectiveness.
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