Hugging from A Distance: Building Interpersonal Relationships in Social Virtual Reality

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PubDate: June 2021

Teams: Clemson University

Writers: Guo Freeman;Dane Acena

PDF: Hugging from A Distance: Building Interpersonal Relationships in Social Virtual Reality

Abstract

This paper focuses on how the emerging social VR systems, as new and unique social interaction spaces that afford high-fidelity and multidimensional physical presence, may support building interpersonal relationships in a more nuanced, immersive, and embodied way. Based on 30 interviews, our investigation focuses on 1) the main reasons why people build and foster interpersonal relationships in social VR; 2) various novel activities through which users can foster relationships in social VR; and 3) the complicated influences of social VR mediated relationships on users’ online and offline social lives. We contribute to better understanding mediated interactive experiences by shedding light on the novel role of social VR in transforming how people meet, interact, and establish connections with others compared to other forms of media. We also provide potential directions to inform the design of future social VR systems to better afford healthy, fulfilling, and supportive interpersonal relationships.

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