The Effect of Anonymity on the Usage of Avatar: Comparison of Internet Relay Chat and Instant Messenger

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Hye-seung Kang, Ewha Womans University and Hee-dong Yang, Ewha Womans University


The purpose of this study is to examine the difference between chatting avatars and messenger avatars. Users of IRC are not generally known by their ‘real’ names, while users of IM are usually known by their ‘real’ names: i.e., IRC users are anonymous to each other, whereas those of IM are not. Avatars represent users' identity and desire of self-disclosure. Therefore, we assume that the anonymity of user identity influences on the usage of the avatars in terms of self-identify and self-disclosure. Our hypotheses were verified that users have different sense of self-identify and self-disclosure between these two different types of avatars. The moderation effect of gender was significant for both IRC and IM. Meanwhile, age had the mixed moderation effect on IRC and IM.


Avatar, Instant messenger, Internet Relay chat, Anonymity, Cyberspace, Computer-mediated-communication



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