Virtual Doppelgangers: Psychological Effects of Avatars Who Ignore Their Owners

  • Jeremy N. Bailenson
  • Kathryn Y. Segovia
Part of the Human-Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


For a decade, the Virtual Human Interaction Lab has been creating doppelgangers, virtual versions of the self, for research purposes. This chapter considers how humans may be affected by confrontation with virtual versions of themselves, on the basis of well-established psychological theories, including social cognitive theory (social learning theory), media richness theory (information richness theory), and self-perception theory. Experiments carried out in the Lab, and informed by these theories, have explored such notable topics as health communication, marketing, and false memories. The findings of one series of studies suggest that doppelgangerscan show the rewards of exercise and proper eating habits, changing people’s health-related behavior as a result. Other studies showed that doppelgangers are powerful marketing agents and can be used in advertisements to create favorable brand impressions among consumers. Other research documented that children have difficulty in distinguishing between an actual memory elicited by a physical world event and a false memory elicited by mental image or doppelganger.


Video Game False Memory Social Cognitive Theory Mental Imagery Virtual Representation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Sun Joo Ahn, Jesse Fox, James Scarborough, and Nick Yee for their helpful comments on this chapter. The current work was partially supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant 0527377. In addition, the Stanford Graduate Fellowship supported Kathryn Segovia during her contribution to this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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