Virtual Reality

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 66–81 | Cite as

Mediating the expression of emotion in educational collaborative virtual environments: an experimental study

  • Marc Fabri
  • David Moore
  • Dave Hobbs
Original Article


The use of avatars with emotionally expressive faces is potentially highly beneficial to communication in collaborative virtual environments (CVEs), especially when used in a distance learning context. However, little is known about how, or indeed whether, emotions can effectively be transmitted through the medium of a CVE. Given this, an avatar head model with limited but human-like expressive abilities was built, designed to enrich CVE communication. Based on the facial action coding system (FACS), the head was designed to express, in a readily recognisable manner, the six universal emotions. An experiment was conducted to investigate the efficacy of the model. Results indicate that the approach of applying the FACS model to virtual face representations is not guaranteed to work for all expressions of a particular emotion category. However, given appropriate use of the model, emotions can effectively be visualised with a limited number of facial features. A set of exemplar facial expressions is presented.


Avatar Collaborative virtual environment Emotion Facial expression 



Photographs from the CD-Rom Pictures of Facial Affect [35] are used with permission. Original virtual head geometry by Geometrek. Detailed results of this study as well as the virtual head prototypes are available online at


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ISLE Research GroupLeeds Metropolitan UniversityLeedsUK
  2. 2.School of InformaticsUniversity of BradfordBradfordUK

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