"A feeling of déjà vu": The Effects of Avatar Appearance-Similarity on Persuasiveness in Social Virtual Reality

Meng Ting Shih, Yi Chieh Lee, Chih Mao Huang, Liwei Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The similarity effect refers to the tendency for people to be more easily influenced by others who resemble them in appearance. This phenomenon has been found to have positive impacts, including on the building of trust, that enrich the quality of communication (e.g., fluency or collaboration performance). While research has shown that the similarity effect occurs in screen-based communication platforms, it remains unclear how this phenomenon impacts user perceptions, especially of others' persuasiveness, in immersive environments such as virtual reality (VR). In this study, we adopted a mixed-methods approach to exploring how interaction with avatars of similar appearance to one's own self-representation influences conversations. Such similarity was operationalized as having three levels: identicality, moderate similarity, and dissimilarity. The study found that avatars of moderate similarity have the greatest persuasiveness; however, in both identicality and moderate similarity conditions, participants felt it was easier to communicate with and lower eeriness rating to avatars than in the dissimilarity condition. Multiple linear regression further revealed that users who had relatively low self-esteem and/or were relatively conscientious were more susceptible to the positive effect of appearance similarity on persuasiveness. We conclude that the similarity effect, especially when the similarity in question is moderate, could be leveraged to support persuasiveness in VR-based communication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3610167
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW2
StatePublished - 4 Oct 2023


  • appearance
  • avatar
  • computer mediated communication
  • similarity effect
  • social virtual reality
  • virtual reality


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