Avatar-Mediated Communication and Social Identification

Ching I. Teng*, Alan R. Dennis, Alexander S. Dennis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

2 Scopus citations


Avatar-mediated communication (AMC), commonly used in online environments such as games and the emerging metaverse, is different from traditional computer-mediated communication in that it is a human-object-object-human relationship mediated by the individual’s avatar and the avatar of the person with whom they are communicating. We conceptualize AMC by using three key concepts: user-avatar identification (i.e., how a user perceives their avatar as themselves), avatar-avatar identification (i.e., how a user perceives their avatar as part of a community of avatars), and social presence (i.e., how a user perceives the other avatar as a representation of the other person). We tested this model using 778 individuals who responded to three waves of data collection. The results show that the three factors of AMC influence users’ social identification with their community and strengthen its impact on loyalty. From a theoretical perspective, our research adds two novel constructs—user–avatar identification and avatar–avatar identification—that play key roles in AMC in addition to the well-known effects of social presence. From a practical perspective, our research helps developers better design online games and virtual worlds such as the metaverse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1201
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Management Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • avatar identification
  • avatars
  • CMC
  • computer-mediated communication
  • metaverse
  • online games
  • online influence
  • online loyalty
  • Social identification
  • social presence
  • virtual worlds


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