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Japanese research team explores dynamics of online romantic relationships; check out their findings

ANI | Updated: Oct 29, 2022 03:59 IST


Hiroshima [Japan], October 29 (ANI): A study presenting the idea of romantic anthropomorphism, which entails giving a non-human agent human-like qualities in a romantic context, was written by an international team of researchers. Their work contributes to a better knowledge of virtual romance among researchers. While earlier psychology studies looked at how anthropomorphized entities can satisfy human desires, this study is the first to look at romantic relationships in virtual reality.
The study was released in the British Journal of Social Psychology.
"Most romantic relationship research has been focused on human-human social domains, and most previous anthropomorphism research has concentrated on platonic anthropomorphism. Our research helps to cultivate a new field bridging the gap between anthropomorphism and relationship science," said Mayu Koike, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hiroshima University.
In today's environment, virtual agents are becoming increasingly important. A virtual agent, also known as a virtual rep or chatbot, is a piece of software that helps people online by using natural language processing and pre-written responses. Virtual agents often take the place of human work, but as they develop in complexity, they are also being used in new capacities. Virtual agents are becoming more involved in people's romantic life, which is a significant area of social interaction. Every person has the yearning to love and be loved. This has typically meant another person throughout human history--someone to love and be loved in return. But today, a virtual agent might meet this requirement.
Virtual characters in romantic video games are become more lively and responsive. These video games are becoming more and more well-liked because they give millions of individuals the chance to pursue, develop, and experience a love connection with a virtual agent. Despite these games' explosive surge in popularity, no thorough research of these virtual romances has yet been done.

Humans may start to perceive virtual agents as being substantially similar to other humans as they become more sophisticated and engaged. If this is the case, relationships with these virtual agents can seem genuine and real, causing people to feel good and want to keep the connection going.
The study team used romantic video games to analyse how romantic anthropomorphism influences relationship authenticity, desire for real-world relationships, mood, and real-world interpersonal conduct in order to better understand and explore this idea known as anthropomorphism.
In their initial laboratory investigation, the researchers found that romantic anthropomorphism of a virtual agent predicted a person's desire for a real-world relationship with the virtual agent as well as increased pleasant affect from the perception that the relationship was legitimate. By employing a larger sample size and a different romantic video game in their second investigation, they were able to confirm the findings of the previous study. Their third study confirmed the findings of the first two investigations, but it also showed that romantic video game play did not foretell actual behaviour in a subsequent encounter with a real research actor.
When people believe that their connection and relationship with the virtual agent is genuine, anthropomorphism is connected with results, according to the main pathway found across these three investigations. "This finding suggests that what predicts a desire for a real-world relationship with a virtual agent and a positive mood is not anthropomorphism per se--there is no consistent direct relationship between anthropomorphism and outcomes--rather, it is how anthropomorphism feeds through relationship authenticity. Simply said, anthropomorphism fosters the perception of genuineness in interpersonal interactions. To create a solid connection with agents, relational authenticity is important, according to Koike. The team's research pinpoints a distinct method by which individuals connect in the contemporary day and offers a fresh perspective on the disciplines of anthropomorphism, virtual interactions, and relationship science.
Looking ahead the team suggests that future research could systematically vary the extent to which a romantic interest is likely to elicit anthropomorphism. "This presents an important future direction for this field. Also, it would be beneficial for future research to examine whether personality traits or other individual differences influence whether people engage in romantic anthropomorphism," said Koike. (ANI)

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