Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Makana Chock


avatar, personality judgment, thin-slice judgment, uncanny valley effect, willingness to be a friend

Subject Categories

Communication | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


With the rapid growth of social virtual reality platforms, an increasing number of people will be interacting with others as avatars in virtual environments. Therefore, it is essential to develop a better understanding of the factors that could impact initial personality assessments and how they affect the willingness of people to befriend one another. Thin-slice judgment constitutes a quick judgment of a personality based on an avatar, and it could be impacted by the avatar’s appearance, particularly if the avatar elicits an uncanny valley effect that brings negative emotions such as eerieness. However, personality judgments and friendship decisions could also be influenced by social cues, such as conversational style. This experimental study investigated how these factors impact willingness to make friends with others in a virtual world. Drawing upon the uncanny valley effect and thin-slice judgment, this study examined how different levels of realism and conversational cues influence trustworthiness, likeability, and the willingness to be a friend. Furthermore, the current study tried to shed light on the interaction effects of realism and conversational cues to the dependent variables. In other words, this study investigated how this eventually influences one’s willingness to be a friend under the thin-slice judgment when personality judgments result from the negative feeling (i.e., eeriness) of the uncanny valley effect and social cues are conflicted. To this end, a 2 (realism: cartoonish vs. hyper-realistic) x 2 (conversational cues: extroverted vs. introverted) between-subjects online experiment was conducted. The results showed that trustworthiness and likeability significantly impacted the willingness to be a friend. Furthermore, realism and conversational cues marginally affected the willingness to be a friend. Keywords: uncanny valley effect, thin-slice judgment, avatar, personality judgment, willingness to be a friend


Open Access