A Face Validation Study for the Investigation of Proteus Effects Targeting Driving Behavior
The Proteus effect describes the phenomenon that Immersive Virtual Reality users derive identity cues from their avatar's appearance which in turn activate specific stereotypes that influence the users' behavior or attitudes. The aim of this study was to validate faces of different age groups that can be used for avatars in further studies of Proteus effects targeting driving behavior. To achieve this goal, four neutral faces were selected from the CAL/PAL face database. They were rated with established questionnaires for driving behavior and driving styles to reveal explicit driver stereotypes. Implicit stereotypes were assessed with the implicit association test. Study 1 (N = 93) revealed explicit driver stereotypes. In line with prior research, the young man's driving style was seen as riskier, angrier, with a higher velocity, and as less careful and less patient. The opposite pattern of results was found for the old woman, who received high scores for dissociative, anxious, and patient driving styles. Study 2 (N = 160) replicated the overall pattern of results from study 1. Moreover, there were in-group out-group effects for the implicit gender stereotypes with regard to dissociative driving style and overall driving ability. Based on these results, observable influences upon driving behavior are expected for driving errors, violations and lapses, as well as upon driving velocity with more violations and higher velocity for the male avatars and with more errors and lapses for the old female avatar. All faces were remodeled with Autodesk 3ds Max for further experiments investigating the Proteus effect targeting driving behavior.