Effects of Facial and Voice Similarity on Presence in a Public Speaking Virtual Environment

Aymerich-Franch, L., Karutz, C., & Bailenson, J.N. (2012). Effects of Facial and Voice Similarity on Presence in a Public Speaking Virtual Environment. Proceedings of the International Society for Presence Research Annual Conference. October 24–26, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Self-presence examines how much a user extends features of his or her identity into a virtually mediated world while represented by an avatar. Additionally, social and spatial presence measure how a user treats actors and environments in mediated space as if they were real. In this study, we examined the effects of facial and voice similarities of participants on self-reported presence measures in a public speaking task that takes place in an immersive virtual environment. Experimental participants (N = 51) were instructed to give a five-minute speech in front of a virtual audience in a two (voice similarity) by two (face similarity) design. For facial similarity, participants saw their avatar’s face reflected back in a virtual mirror with either a similar or dissimilar face. For voice similarity, participants either gave their own speech out loud, or had a previous participant’s speech emanate from their avatar’s mouth. Results showed participants in the similar voice condition reported significantly higher self-presence and social presence than those in the dissimilar voice condition. Facial similarity did not significantly affect any measures of presence. We discuss implications for the study and design of avatars.