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Virtual selves, real relationships: an exploration of the context and role for social interactions in the emergence of self in virtual environments

Evans, Simon (2012) Virtual selves, real relationships: an exploration of the context and role for social interactions in the emergence of self in virtual environments. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 46 (4). pp. 512-528. ISSN 1932-4502

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Abstract

With the evolution of computer-mediated communication and the arrival of new virtual environments, there are potential implications for how the Self may be conceptualised. This paper considers these implications by examining the continuities and discontinuities between the Self in virtual and non-virtual environments, and contemporary and historical settings. Symbolic Interaction and Activity Theory approaches emphasise the Self as emerging in context, through Self-Other and Self-environment interactions in the minutiae of everyday life, but to some extent foreground physical rather than virtual interactions. Interactions in virtual environments are characterised by specific forms of embodiment and the experience of "presence", with avatars providing embodiment for interaction separate from the physical world and interaction with others being one of the determinants of presence. The complexion of Self-Other interactions in virtual environments is circumscribed by the characteristics of communications and relationships that occur in them, which are constrained by reduced social cues but overcome through the invention of techniques driven by the desire to socially interact. This paper highlights the role of symbolic mediation in the emergence of Self in virtual environments and posits that, while emergence of Self is interactive in nature, virtual environments are particular sites for a Self where the specific role of social interaction must be foregrounded.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.springer.com/psychology/journal/12124
Additional Information: © 2012 Springer
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Social Psychology
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2012 09:33
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/45774/

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