Real-World Persuasion From Virtual-World Campaigns Academic Article uri icon


  • With the general public spending increasing amounts of time in virtual gaming worlds, it is relevant to explore social influence dynamics that can occur in virtual reality settings. Three studies tested the hypothesis that transportation into a virtual game heightens susceptibility to influence from in-game health communications. Study 1 participants played a first-person shooter game that had either landscape paintings or graphic anti-DUI (drive under the influence of alcohol) messages embedded in the background of scenes. Results indicated that, to the extent gamers were transported into the virtual experiences in the game, willingness to DUI was reduced by the presence of anti-DUI graphic messages. Study 2 explored potential mechanisms driving this effect and revealed evidence that transportation disrupts counter-arguing among individuals who might otherwise resist real-world influence attempts. Study 3 replicated Studies 1 and 2 findings but also pointed to a potential boomerang effect that can occur when transportation is not achieved in a game. Discussion focused on the potential positive and negative consequences of embedding persuasive health communications into the background of virtual gaming worlds.

published proceedings

  • Communication Research

altmetric score

  • 37.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Burrows, C. N., & Blanton, H.

citation count

  • 38

complete list of authors

  • Burrows, Christopher N||Blanton, Hart

publication date

  • June 2016