Avatar Design for Bullying Prevention in the Metaverse: Avatar Appearances and the Presumption of Bullying

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Teru KawakitaHideaki Kanai

Abstract: Nowadays, people operate avatars in the metaverse to engage in social activity. While technology is making human society better, the bullying and harassment that occurs on the internet are still unresolved. Bullying is caused by a variety of influences, including psychological and environmental factors. Previous research has shown that the appearance of bullying victims is a cause of bullying. In the future, the appearance of the avatar could cause others to act aggressively. To prevent bullying in the metaverse, we create strong-impression and weak-impression avatars and investigate their association with the presumption of bullying. In this study, the presumption of bullying means that the participants answer whether an avatar is a victim or a perpetrator of bullying. The research method is described below.Participants: The participants were Forty-five graduate students (M = 24.49, SD = 4.48, Forty males, Four females, and one other).Avatars: Four avatars with a weak impression (e.g., fat/introverted) and Four avatars with a strong impression (e.g., good figure/extroverted) were created by VRoid Studio. We will describe the avatar images used in the experiment in the AHFE paper. Materials and procedure: Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) from 1 to 10 (10-point scale) was used as the evaluation method. The survey items are as follows. (1) The impression of avatars (weak impression to strong impression). (2) The attractiveness of avatars (unattractive to attractive). (3) The presumption of bullying (I think this avatar is: victim to perpetrator). Participants were asked to respond to each avatar and survey items using Google Forms. This study was approved by the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology's life science committee.Results: We hypothesized that the impression of avatars and the attractiveness of avatars were related to the presumption of bullying. Then, A multilevel analysis was performed. The model is as follows. [bullying~1+ impression+ attractiveness+ (1|avatars)]. Singular fit results were obtained when participants were included in random effects. Therefore, there would be little difference between participants. R² = .52. The fixed effect omnibus tests are: The impression of avatars (p <. 001), The attractiveness of avatars (p = .575). The results have shown that the impression of avatars has a significant effect on the presumption of bullying.Discussion: The results of this study have shown that the avatars perceived as weak by the participants tend to be presumed the victim of bullying. It shows that people have the physical stereotype of the victim about avatars. Stereotypes do not cause bullying immediately. However, people in the metaverse should avoid using a weak impression avatar to protect themselves from potential harm. The multilevel analysis has shown that the attractiveness of avatars had no significant effect on the presumption of bullying. Participants who are attracted to a particular avatar may have psychological resistance to identifying that avatar as a victim or perpetrator. This study shows that designers should be careful not to subconsciously build the weak impressions into avatars.

Keywords: avatar, kansei (affective) engineering, affective design, bullying, metaverse

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002991

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