Avatars as Peers at Work

  Avatars at Work  

Project partners
Prof. Dr. Özgür Gürerk, LuFg Experimentelle Wirtschaftsforschung
Andreas Staffeldt, Lehrstuhl für Organisation
Prof. Dr. Torsten Kuhlen, Dr. Bernd Hentschel, Andrea Bönsch, Lehrstuhl für Informatik 12 (Virtual Reality Group)

Project start: July 1, 2014

Abstract: Understanding peer effects is of utmost importance for the design of work organization and the composition of teams. Does a “bad apple” have a negative effect on his or her peers’ performances? Does a high-productivity performer induce fellow workers to high effort levels? The answers to these questions have implications for the efficient composition of teams. With this project, we aim to understand the determinants of peer effects by combining two original ideas. First, we design an economic real effort experiment we will conduct in the highly immersive virtual environment of the aixCAVE.

This experiment will be a novel application of virtual reality to experimental economics giving us a very high degree of control over the complete experimental setting, more than achieved in classical economic experiments. Second, to explore peer effects in a more controllable way, we program and embed a humanoid avatar into the experimental setting as a co-worker of human subjects. When a human subject enters the aixCAVE he or she will perceive this room as a virtual production hall. The subject will perform a real-effort sorting task at a virtual conveyor belt while seeing an avatar that independently works in the same work location performing the same task. To explore peer effects, we will manipulate the avatar’s behavior and investigate the reaction of the human subject.