Modality effects in second life: The mediating role of social presence and the moderating role of product involvement

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Abstract

The rapid growth of virtual worlds is one of the most recent Internet trends. Some distinguishing features of virtual environments include the employment of avatars and multimodal communication among avatars. This study examined the effects of the modality (text vs. audio) of message presentation on people's evaluation of spokes-avatar credibility and the informational value of promotional messages in avatar-based advertising inside 3D virtual environments. An experiment was conducted in the virtual Apple retail store inside Second Life, the most popular and fastest growing virtual world. The author designed a two-group (textual advertisement vs. auditory advertisement) comparison experiment by manipulating the modality of conveying advertisement messages. The author also created a spokes-avatar that represents a real-life organization (Apple) and presents promotional messages about its innovative product, the iPhone. Data analyses showed that (a) textual modality (vs. auditory modality) resulted in greater source expertise, informational value of the advertisement message, and social presence; and that (b) high product involvement (vs. low product involvement) resulted in a more positive attitude toward the product, higher buying intention, and a higher level of perceived interactivity. In addition to the main effects of product involvement and modality, results showed significant interaction between involvement and modality. Modality effects were stronger for people with low product involvement than for those with high product involvement, thus confirming the moderating effects of product involvement. Results of a path analysis also showed that social presence mediated the effects of modality on the perceived informational value of the advertisement message.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-721
Number of pages5
JournalCyberpsychology and Behavior
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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