Perceiving Mind of Video Game Characters in COVID-19 Times: Focusing on Influence of Pessimistic Expectations
COVID-19 pandemic, mind attribution, video game character, likability, emotion, cognition, Intention
Young June SAH
The present study examined how pessimistic expectation of the COVID-19 pandemic influences perception of video game characters. Based on the theoretical framework of anthropomorphism, it is proposed that pessimistic expectation about COVID-19 is associated with greater perception of emotion, cognition, and intention of video game characters. In an online study, participants (N = 486) were asked to report their expectation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and rate their perception of video game characters, including capability of emotion, cognition, and intention, as well as likability, and perception of the characters as nonhuman objects (i.e., dehumanization). Supporting our expectations, the more pessimistic expectation they had, the greater extent participants perceived emotion, cognition, and intention from the characters. The pessimistic expectation was also positively associated with dehumanization, indicating the negative sentiment transferred to the perception of the characters. More importantly, results revealed that mind perception was positively associated with likability of the video game characters. These results suggest that people who have negative predictions on the COVID-19 pandemic are more likely to appreciate the social nature of the video game character, rendering video game play pleasant and enjoyable. Practical implications of the findings were discussed.
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