Transformed Social Interaction in Virtual Reality

Speaker: Jeremy Bailenson , Stanford University

Date: Friday, March 16, 2007

Time: 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

Refreshments: 3:15 PM

Public: Yes

Location: Star Seminar Room (D463)

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Host: Rob Miller, MIT CSAIL

Contact: Michael Bernstein, (949) 300-2421,

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Reminder Subject: TALK: Transformed Social Interaction in Virtual Reality


Over time, our mode of remote communication has evolved from written letters to telephones, email, internet chat rooms, and videoconferences. Similarly, collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) promise to further change the nature of remote interaction. CVEs are systems which track verbal and nonverbal signals of multiple interactants and render those signals onto avatars, three-dimensional, digital representations of people in a shared digital space. In this talk, I describe a series of projects that explore the manners in which CVEs qualitatively change the nature of remote communication. Unlike telephone conversations and videoconferences, interactants in CVEs have the ability to systematically filter the physical appearance and behavioral actions of their avatars in the eyes of their conversational partners, amplifying or suppressing features and nonverbal signals in real-time for strategic purposes. These transformations have a drastic impact on interactants’ persuasive and instructional abilities. Furthermore, using CVEs, behavioral researchers can use this mismatch between performed and perceived behavior as a tool to examine complex patterns of nonverbal behavior with nearly perfect experimental control and great precision. Implications for communications systems and social interaction will be discussed.


Jeremy Bailenson earned a B.A. cum laude from the University of Michigan in 1994 and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Northwestern University in 1999. After receiving his doctorate, he spent four years at the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior at the University of California, Santa Barbara as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and then an Assistant Research Professor. He currently is the director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Bailenson's main area of interest is the phenomenon of digital human representation, especially in the context of immersive virtual reality. He explores the manner in which people are able to represent themselves when the physical constraints of body and veridically-rendered behaviors are removed. Furthermore, he designs and studies collaborative virtual reality systems that allow physically remote individuals to meet in virtual space, and explores the manner in which these systems change the nature of verbal and nonverbal interaction. His work has been published in several academic journals, including Cognitive Psychology, Discourse Processes, Human-Computer Interaction, Psychological Science, and PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, and his research is funded by the National Science Foundation, Stanford University, and by various Silicon Valley and international corporations.

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Created by Linda L. Julien Email at Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 6:22 AM.