Groom, V., Bailenson, J.N., & Nass, C. (2009). The influence of racial embodiment on racial bias in immersive virtual environments. Social Influence, 4(1), 1-18.
Increasingly, people interact with others via digital representations, or avatars, that feature indicators of race. Nonetheless, little is known about the effects of avatar race on attitudes and behaviors. We conducted a study to determine how people’s implicit racial bias is affected by the race of their avatar in an immersive virtual environment (IVE). Our results indicate that the effects of avatar race extend beyond digital spaces. People embodied by Black avatars in an IVE demonstrated greater implicit racial bias outside the IVE than people embodied by White avatars. These findings have important implications for strategies to reduce racial prejudice and provide new insights into the flexibility of racial identity and racial attitudes afforded by virtual technologies.