Florida State University has released the results of a study conducted in conjunction with Planet Calypso parent First Planet Company, about how virtual world experiences affect user buying habits. The study concluded that users who interact with a brand in a virtual world environment are far more likely to purchase brand products than users who interact with a brand through traditional advertising mediums. The study is expected to help scientists better understand how cognitive states influence consumer behavior.
The study also hopes to help businesses better understand how to promote products in virtual environments.The study describes at length something it calls "Flow," a term that refers to the best possible mental state a person can achieve during a particular activity. The study describes Flow as a distinct theoretical construct characterized by pursuit of clear goals, a lost sense of time, and reaction to explicit feedback.
Flow can occur during the socially-oriented activities that users typically participate in while visiting a virtual world. The study conducted a virtual beauty pageant, during which users displayed signs of being more self-conscious about their avatar's appearance. Greater levels of self-consciousness heighten a person's experience of Flow. A user experiencing Flow will be more positively inclined toward brand products and will experience higher purchase intent when in a virtual world context.
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