Thomas, Dratsch (2013). Using Avatars to Study Social Cognition in Cross-cultural Psychology and High-functioning Autism. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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Over the last 20 years, virtual avatars have become a popular research tool in psychology and neuroscience for studying social cognition. As opposed to photographs or movie recordings of actual human beings, avatars allow for the precise control over all aspects of the stimulus, ranging from the avatar's gaze and movement behavior to its physical appearance, such as age, gender, or ethnicity (Vogeley & Bente, 2010). Additionally, avatars have made it possible to create interactive paradigms that enable the study of social interactions in real-time (Wilms et al., 2010). Benefitting from this recent development, the present thesis set out to use avatars to study social cognition in two areas: cross-cultural psychology and high-functioning autism. The unifying connection between the four studies combined in this thesis is that they all rely on specific advantages offered by avatars and that they could not have been conducted without them. As a whole, the aim of the present thesis is to advance knowledge in two major fields of social cognition—cross-cultural psychology and high-functioning autism—by using virtual avatars. Study 1 assessed the validity of social avatars as a research tool. Study 2 focused on cross-cultural differences in trust. Study 3 and Study 4 investigated whether two core abilities of social cognition—detection of direct gaze and perception of attractiveness—are impaired in individuals with high-functioning autism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Thomas, Dratscht.dratsch@mac.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-54402
Date: 11 November 2013
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Human Sciences > Department Psychologie
Subjects: Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
autism, avatars, trust, cross-cultural psychology, attractivenessEnglish
Date of oral exam: 19 December 2013
NameAcademic Title
Gary, BenteProf. Dr.
Kai, VogeleyProf. Dr. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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