Blurring the Boundaries Between Real and Virtual: Consumption Experiences and the Self Concept in the Virtual World.

Ereni Markos, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
Lauren Labrecque, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
Virtual worlds offer limitless play and opportunity to live out fantasy and desires absolved from real life constraints. As such, millions of people are affiliated with virtual worlds. Members of these online communities customize avatars that mimic real life activities such as shopping, socializing as well as a myriad of other endeavors. This study focuses on one of the most rapidly growing virtual worlds, Second Life (SL). We aim to uncover what drives virtual consumption and how these experiences play out in the virtual setting while exploring the self-concept. Firstly, our paper aims to uncover consumption trends via qualitative research. Secondly, from these responses, we develop a survey instrument and collect data from virtual world residents. Preliminary results suggest that in SL one can explore self while living out desires and seemingly unattainable dreams.
[ to cite ]:
Ereni Markos and Lauren Labrecque (2009) ,"Blurring the Boundaries Between Real and Virtual: Consumption Experiences and the Self Concept in the Virtual World.", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 884-885.