The Digital Patient

Ahn, Sun Joo (Grace) (2016). Using avatars and agents to promote real world health behavior changes. In Combs, C. D., Sokolowski, J. A., & Banks, C. M. (Eds.), The Digital Patient: Advancing Healthcare, Research, and Education (Chapter 12, pp. 167-178). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Abstract: This chapter reviews the past and current trends of one particularly intriguing aspect of virtual worlds—virtual representations commonly known as avatars—in the context of health behavior change.  Despite the growing interest in the influence of virtual representations on health behaviors, there has been a surprising dearth of research exploring the use of virtual representations as a direct and central vehicle of behavior change.  State-of-the-art findings on the use of virtual representations to promote behavior change will be discussed first, followed by a more detailed discussion of recent studies that specifically target health behavior change using virtual representations.

Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn 

Related Research


Where readers look, and what they miss

Abstract: Participants (N=88) in a two-condition (Facebook post information level: high vs. low) mixed factorial design took part in a laboratory experiment that utilized eye tracking to gauge what areas of the page in common news layouts attract viewers’ gaze, and whether this viewing amount of information about the story disclosed in the Facebook posts. […]

Bartosz WojdynskiCamila EspinaKate KeibJennifer MalsonHyejin BangYen-I Lee
read more
Image and framing effects on perceptions of self-efficacy and body satisfaction

Abstract: This study, in the context of encouraging participants to enroll in a company’s employee wellness program, uses gain-loss framing (Rothman & Salovey, 1997) and social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) to examine the effects of messages on participant perceptions of self-efficacy for maintaining a healthy weight, consuming healthful foods and body satisfaction. A 2 (framing: […]

Maria Len-RíosYen-I Lee
read more