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Online avatars and trustworthiness judgments: The role of avatar customizability

On October 3 Maria S. Machneva took part in the "Culture matters" research seminar with the report on "Online avatars and trustworthiness judgments: The role of avatar customizability".

While online avatars are becoming increasingly popular among Internet users, little is known about whether people can evaluate trustworthiness of others based on online avatars. To answer this question, as well as to understand how avatar customizability affects formation of trustworthiness judgments, a two-stage experiment was conducted: 138 students from Tilburg University participated in Stage 1; whereas, participants for Stage 2 (N = 90) were recruited online.

The findings of the study suggesed that people can efficiently evaluate trustworthiness of others based on online avatars, and that they do so in a similar way to inferring trustworthiness from human faces. Additionally, high avatar customizability found to facilitate formation of avatar-based trustworthiness judgments.