Skip to main content
Original Article

How Socially Relevant Visual Characteristics of Avatars Influence Impression Formation

Published Online:

Like in the real world, the first impression a person leaves in a computer-mediated environment depends on his or her online appearance. The present study manipulates an avatar’s pupil size, eyeblink frequency, and the viewing angle to investigate whether nonverbal visual characteristics are responsible for the impression made. We assessed how participants (N = 56) evaluate these avatars in terms of different attributes. The findings show that avatars with large pupils and slow eye blink frequency are perceived as more sociable and more attractive. Compared to avatars seen in full frontal view or from above, avatars seen from below were rated as most sociable, self-confident, and attractive. Moreover, avatars’ pupil size and eyeblink frequency escape the viewer’s conscious perception but still influence how people evaluate them. The findings have wide-ranging applied implications for avatar design.