We investigated how manipulating self and opponent avatar weight (normal vs. obese) affected people's physical activity in real life as they played an exergame. While playing virtual tennis, female players operating a normal weight self avatar were more physically active relative to those using an obese self avatar. Participants physically exerted themselves the most when both self and opponent had normal weight avatars, implying increased physical activity when self and opponent avatars look equally fit. The study also identified conditions that discouraged physical activity (e.g., normal weight self avatar vs. an obese opponent). The findings were congruent with priming and social comparison models, and illustrated how virtual social cues can be leveraged to influence health behaviors via exergames.
- Physical activity
- Social comparison