Self-Disclosure of Bullying Experiences and Social Support in Avatar Communication: Analysis of Verbal and Nonverbal Communications
Avatar communication through the Internet has great potential to be an appropriate environment for self-disclosure and social support. Anonymity and ease of access drive selfdisclosure of even the most serious problems. Rich nonverbal communication, co-presence, and real-time interaction increase emotional closeness. However, there has not been much research with regard to examining social support in avatar communication. In this paper, we aim to facilitate self-disclosure and social support for bullied people through avatar communication. For this purpose, we analyzed verbal and nonverbal communication about bullying experiences through an avatar communication service. We demonstrate that people who emotionally disclosed their bullying experiences received better social support. In addition, people who provided social support used emotional expressions to convey emotional empathy. These were observed in conversations with a few acquaintances in closed spaces. Our findings reveal areas where we can improve upon the design of avatar communication spaces for effective social support.