Developing and using personalized photorealistic avatars in research settings poses novel challenges for research ethics procedures. These challenges stem from the highly identifiable nature of avatars, which are imbued with the users’ identities. This study examines how individuals, who have had personalized photorealistic avatars created for participation in multiple research experiments, relate to their avatars when not embodying them. In three focus groups (N=9), we use hypothetical scenarios to explore avatar ownership. Using thematic analysis, we identify three themes that encapsulate individuals’ psychological sense of ownership of and connection to their avatars: i) the desire for control over the avatar, ii) the entangled relationship between user and avatar identities, and iii) feelings towards the avatar. From these themes, we suggest three recommendations for enhancing future ethical procedures, emphasizing transparency, access, control, and consent, and discuss factors limiting the generalizability of our results.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2024 - Extended Abstracts of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsFlorian Floyd Mueller, Penny Kyburz, Julie R. Williamson, Corina Sas
Place of PublicationNew York, U. S. A.
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9798400703317
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2024
EventACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2024 (CHI 2024) - Hawaiʻi Convention Center, Honolulu, USA United States
Duration: 11 May 202416 May 2024

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


ConferenceACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2024 (CHI 2024)
Country/TerritoryUSA United States


  • personalised photorealistic avatars
  • privacy
  • psychological ownership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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