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EMAC 2022 Annual

Consumption in virtual worlds: Extending identity into digital markets

Published: May 24, 2022


Bernadett KOLES, IÉSEG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT; Peter Nagy, Arizona State University; Center for Science and the Imagination


The purpose of the current paper is to explore the influence of identity on self-extension tendency and virtual consumption in online communities. The importance of material possessions for individual identity has been explored extensively in offline yet only sporadically in online conditions. Data were collected from a group of Second Life residents. Participants rated their virtual identities more favourably than their offline ones across most dimensions. Users characterised with specific identity orientations – such as being more emotional, more anxious and less powerful – were more likely to incorporate digital objects into their self. Additional variation was established by age and gender, yielding results that extend or at times even contradict our understanding derived from offline contexts. Emotion and stability influenced virtual consumption patterns, as manifested in more frequent store visits and greater product variety. Implications and future directions are discussed.