Omar Shaikh

Personalized Avatars and Self-Presence

Swati Pandita
Byungdoo Kim
International Society for Presence Research Annual Conference (PRESENCE), 2018


In order to achieve a sense of self-presence in a virtual environment, users are represented by avatars. While avatars do not have to resemble individual users or even appear human, the avatar in which a user is embodied in can affect how that user behaves in a virtual environment. Thus, experiments in virtual reality will often manipulate avatar appearance, including personalizing avatars and agents so they resemble individual users. However, the customizable features in avatar creation software may create a biased representation of the participant. In the following paper, we discuss issues in generating custom avatars for experimental purposes and briefly describe the method we use of generating semi-customized avatars for use in a networked virtual environment designed for experimental manipulations. Using a small sample of convenience from an ongoing experiment, we describe participant self-presence ratings while inhabiting these avatars and compare those ratings to the “ground truth” ratings of avatar resemblance to the photographs by research assistant coders. We find a relationship between coder ratings of resemblance and participant ratings of self-presence for a subgroup of participants. Finally, we discuss suggested areas of improvement in avatar generation, including common pitfalls in photographing user faces and customizing avatar bodies and accessories




  title={Personalized avatars and self-presence},
  author={Sun, Y and Pandita, S and Shaikh, O and Kim, B and Won, AS},
  booktitle={Proceedings of the International Society for Presence Research Annual Conference},