Decision Making in Virtual Worlds: An Experimental Test of Altruism, Fairness, and Presence
In: European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2010, conditionally accepted; Pretoria, South Africa
The Validity of Decision Making in Virtual Worlds: An Experimental Test of Altruism, Fairness, and Presence
In: Workshop on Information Systems and Economics (WISE 2008), NYU Stern Business School and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Télécommunications 12/08; Paris, Frankreich[Find it]
Virtual worlds are gaining in popularity and more and more companies act in those digital environments to test users' reactions to modifications in their products and advertising messages. One main characteristic of these virtual worlds is that users act via their avatars and make decisions for them. Companies that utilize virtual worlds for market research purposes and experimentation implicitly assume that an individual’s decision making for her avatar in virtual worlds is similar to her decision making in the real world. In this paper, we analyze the validity of decision making in virtual worlds in an economic experiment (Dictator Game) conducted in the virtual and real world for the same set of subjects. For this purpose, we develop a methodology to test the validity of decision making in virtual worlds. We find similar decisions in the virtual and the real world with respect to sharing. Interestingly, altruism has a significant influence in the real world setting but not in the virtual world; fairness is insignificant in both settings. We explain this finding with the lower degree of nonsatiation in the virtual world. In addition, we identify the feeling of presence in one’s avatar as a driver of the decision making in the virtual world.