An Alternate Reality: Real-Life Relationship Building in the Virtual World Open Access

Johnson, Benjamin Norman (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8g84mm29d?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
An Alternate Reality: Real-Life Relationship Building in the Virtual World

The current study examines interpersonal interactions and tests whether or not practice of a successful romantic relationship in the virtual world improves interpersonal behavior in the real world. Seventy-seven participants (56 female, 21 male) completed the online component of the study. Fifty participants successfully finished the entire study, including both the online and the lab components. During the online phase, participants completed the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R), created a personalized virtual identity, and engaged in an interactive relationship-formation story with a virtual partner. Participants were randomly assigned into either an experimental group, which underwent the secure possible self intervention, or a control group, which simply engaged in the program without intervention. Participants then visited the lab, were video recorded interacting with a researcher, and again completed the ECR-R. Change in attachment security did not differ based on study group, although an overall decrease in anxiety was found. Ratings of the positivity of participants' interactions with a researcher also did not differ based on study condition. Supplementary analyses found that relationship status predicted attachment security; a cyclical model was proposed to explain these findings. These results indicate that virtual interventions that allow individuals to create a virtual identity and practice adaptive relationship behavior may partially improve attitudes towards real-life relationships. Such findings could form the basis for widespread online relationship-building programs that are both affordable and effective.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES...i
LIST OF FIGURES...ii
LIST OF APPENDICES...iii
TITLE PAGE...1
ABSTRACT...2


Section
1. INTRODUCTION...3

Statement of Purpose
Attachment Theory
Possible Selves Motivational Theory
Online Social Environments
Hypotheses

2. METHOD...17

Participants
Study Design
Measures
The Experiences in Close Relationships!Revised Questionnaire
The Attachment Style Characteristics Inventory
The Bond Formation Success Scale
Procedure
Online Component
Laboratory Component

3. RESULTS...28

Online Program
Laboratory Visit

4. DISCUSSION...32
5. REFERENCES...42
6. TABLES...51
7. FIGURES...55
8. APPENDICES..58

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