Navigating the Virtual Gaze: Social Anxiety's Role in VR Proxemics

Beatriz Mello, Robin Welsch, Marissa Verbokkem, Pascal Knierim, Martin Johannes Dechant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

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For individuals with Social Anxiety (SA), interacting with others can be a challenging experience, a concern that extends into the virtual world. While technology has made significant strides in creating more realistic virtual human agents (VHA), the interplay of gaze and interpersonal distance when interacting with VHAs is often neglected. This paper investigates the effect of dynamic and static Gaze animations in VHAs on interpersonal distance and their relation to SA. A Bayesian analysis shows that static centered and dynamic centering gaze led participants to stand closer to VHAs than static averted and dynamic averting gaze, respectively. In the static gaze conditions, this pattern was found to be reversed in SA: participants with higher SA kept larger distances for static-centered gaze than for averted gaze VHAs. These findings update theory, elucidate how nuanced interactions with VHAs must be designed, and offer renewed guidelines for pleasant VHA interaction design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI '24: Proceedings of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsFlorian Floyd Mueller, Penny Kyburz, Julie R. Williamson, Corina Sas, Max L. Wilson, Phoebe Toups Dugas, Irina Shklovski
ISBN (Electronic)979-8-4007-0330-0
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2024
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Honolulu, USA, Honolulu, United States
Duration: 11 May 202416 May 2024


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleACM CHI
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Proxemics
  • Virtual Human Agents
  • Virtual Reality


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