Avatars, disconnecting agents: exploring the nuances of the avatar effect in online discourse

Chris Macdonald


A recurring theme in the study of unethical and harmful behavior is disconnection. And therefore perhaps it is no surprise that when individuals view themselves as a separate entity, they can loosen or even lose their moral compass. This phenomenon is known as the avatar effect. The experiment reported here explores the avatar effect in online communities. It explores whether participants adopt the suggested traits of a given entity when they communicate via that entity. The results revealed that participants' youtube comments were significantly influenced by their username and profile image, despite being asked to give their own opinion. The paper offers further insight into the growing field of disconnecting agents and compromised ethics.


Ethics, Psychology, Economics, Cognition, Sociology, Connection, Communication, Human connection, Ethical decision-making, Disconnecting agents, Avatar effect, Youtube, Internet, Online commenting, Negativity, Positivity, Anonymity, Pseudonymity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.23954/osj.v5i2.2385


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