Virtual bystanders in a language lesson : examining the effect of social evaluation, vicarious experience, cognitive consistency and praising on students' beliefs, self-efficacy and anxiety in a virtual reality environment

C. Qu, Y. Ling, I.E.J. Heynderickx, W.P. Brinkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
106 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Bystanders in a real world's social setting have the ability to influence people’s beliefs and behavior. This study examines whether this effect can be recreated in a virtual environment, by exposing people to virtual bystanders in a classroom setting. Participants (n = 26) first witnessed virtual students answering questions from an English teacher, after which they were also asked to answer questions from the teacher as part of a simulated training for spoken English. During the experiment the attitudes of the other virtual students in the classroom was manipulated; they could whisper either positive or negative remarks to each other when a virtual student was talking or when a participant was talking. The results show that the expressed attitude of virtual bystanders towards the participants affected their self-efficacy, and their avoidance behavior. Furthermore, the experience of witnessing bystanders commenting negatively on the performance of other students raised the participants’ heart rate when it was their turn to speak. Two-way interaction effects were also found on self-reported anxiety and self-efficacy. After witnessing bystanders’ positive attitude towards peer students, participants’ self-efficacy when answering questions received a boost when bystanders were also positive towards them, and a blow when bystanders reversed their attitude by being negative towards them. Still, inconsistency, instead of consistency, between the bystanders’ attitudes towards virtual peers and the participants was not found to result in a larger change in the participants’ beliefs. Finally the results also reveal that virtual flattering or destructive criticizing affected the participants’ beliefs not only about the virtual bystanders, but also about the neutral teacher. Together these findings show that virtual bystanders in a classroom can affect people’s beliefs, anxiety and behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0125279
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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