Virtual Avatar and Me: The Effect of Body-Scan Virtual Avatars on Consumers’ Self-Perceptions and Well-Being
A 3D body-scan virtual avatar enables consumers to examine the fit of clothes based on their own body measurements. Interacting with a body-scan avatar in a virtual environment creates a unique consumer experience because it allows consumers to see themselves from a third-person perspective. Drawing from a self-discrepancy theory, this study aims to explore how 3D body-scan virtual avatars influence consumers’ self-perceptions and examines the psychological and social outcomes of such self-perceptions. Specifically, this study proposes four different types of virtual avatars (i.e., scanned avatars, smooth avatars, statistical avatars, and measurement avatars) and attempts to explore consumer experiences with each type of avatars focusing on consumers’ self-perceptions. Lab experiments with 60 female subjects will be performed to conduct 3D body scanning, create virtual avatars, and have subjects complete questionnaire. The findings of this study will provide practical implications as to how virtual avatars could be used in consumer marketing to create positive effects on consumer well-being and society and to minimize any negative effects that might arise, such as body dissatisfaction and emotional discomfort. Further, the results from this study will provide helpful suggestions especially for vulnerable consumers including older consumers who are less familiar with digital technologies, obese or disabled consumers who might be more in need of body-scan virtual avatar technologies for online shopping, and young consumers who are more susceptible to media marketing messages regarding body images.