Social Conformity in Immersive Virtual Environments

Christos Kyrlitsias, 2015 – today

Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, Cyprus University of Technology

Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) finds many applications in areas such as health, education, entertainment, e-commerce, cultural heritage, and more. Human-agent interactions are used due to the advantages they have in relation to human-human interaction, which include saving time and cost. Although according to theories, people react socially to computers when computers present social features, there is very little evidence that virtual people can cause social conformity (normative or informational) within Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs). Therefore, the parameters that affect the existence of social conformity by virtual humans in IVEs, such as the degree of realism of the virtual human’s appearance and behaviour are unknown. Also, there is no empirical evidence of whether agency (whether the user believes that the virtual humans are agents or avatars) effects the degree of social conformity.

The research will examine the normative and informational social conformity from Agents in IVEs. The primary objective of this research is to provide empirical evidence social conformity by virtual humans within an IVE. Also, the conditions and parameters that affect the conformity towards virtual humans within IVEs will be explored. The parameters that will be considered is the type of conformity, the degree of the virtual humans ‘behavioural realism’ and whether the user believes he interacts with an avatar or an agent (‘agency’).

The results of this research will contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of human-agent interaction and in generally in social interaction in IVEs. The results will be useful for designing VR applications involving social interaction with virtual people. Additionally, the understanding of human-agent social interaction is an important prerequisite for the use of VR technologies as a research tool in social psychology. Finally, this research seeks to highlight possible ethical issues and risks which arise from the use of agents in IVEs, that do not exist (or they do, to a much lesser extent) in other media.


Publications

Kyrlitsias, C., & Michael-Grigoriou, D. (2018). Asch conformity experiment using immersive virtual reality. Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds (CAVW), 29(5), e1804.
TOP DOWNLOADED PAPER 2018-2019 (CAVW)

Kyrlitsias, C., & Michael, D. (2016). Asch conformity experiment using immersive virtual reality. CASA 2016: 29th International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents. Geneva, Switzerland.

Kyrlitsias, C., & Michael, D. (2016, March). Influence by others’ opinions: social pressure from agents in immersive virtual environments. In 2016 IEEE Virtual Reality (VR) (pp. 213-214). IEEE.

Kyrlitsias, Ch., Michael, D. (2015). Social pressure from agents in a virtual environment: an investigation of conformity level. 8th Cyprus Workshop on Signal Processing and Informatics (CWSPI). Nicosia, Cyprus.

@article {kyrlitsias2018,
author = {Kyrlitsias, Christos and Michael-Grigoriou, Despina},
title = {Asch conformity experiment using immersive virtual reality},
journal = {Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds},
volume = {29},
number = {5},
pages = {e1804},
keywords = {agents, Asch experiment, avatars, behavioral realism, conformity, virtual reality},
doi = {10.1002/cav.1804},
url = {https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cav.1804},
eprint = {https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/cav.1804},
note = {e1804 cav.1804}
}

@inproceedings{kyrlitsias2016asch,
title = {{A}sch conformity experiment using immersive virtual reality.},
author = {Kyrlitsias, Christos and Michael-Grigoriou, Despina},
booktitle = {29th International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA)},
year = {2016},
organization = {Geneva, Switzerland}
}

@inproceedings{kyrlitsias2016,
  
title = {Influence by others’ opinions: social pressure from agents in immersive virtual environments.},
  
author = {Kyrlitsias, Christos and Michael, Despina},
  
booktitle = { Virtual Reality (VR), 2016 IEEE},
  
pages = {213--214},
  
year = {2016},
  
organization = {IEEE}
}

@inproceedings{kyrlitsias2015,
  
title = {Social pressure from agents in a virtual environment: an investigation of conformity level.},br>  
author = {Kyrlitsias, Christos and Michael, Despina},br>  
booktitle = {8th Cyprus Workshop on Signal Processing and Informatics (CWSPI)},br>  
year = {2015},br>  
organization = {Nicosia,Cyprus}br>
}