Physiological and perceptual responses to athletic avatars while cycling in virtual reality

Martin Kocur, Florian Habler, Valentin Schwind, Pawel W. Wozniak, Christian Wolf, Niels Henze

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Avatars in virtual reality (VR) enable embodied experiences and induce the Proteus efect-a shift in behavior and attitude to mimic one's digital representation. Previous work found that avatars associated with physical strength can decrease users' perceived exertion when performing physical tasks. However, it is unknown if an avatar's appearance can also infuence the user's physiological response to exercises. Therefore, we conducted an experiment with 24 participants to investigate the efect of avatars' athleticism on heart rate and perceived exertion while cycling in VR following a standardized protocol. We found that the avatars' athleticism has a signifcant and systematic efect on users' heart rate and perceived exertion. We discuss potential moderators such as body ownership and users' level of ftness. Our work contributes to the emerging area of VR exercise systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
ISBN (Print)9781450380966
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


  • Body ownership illusion
  • Health intervention
  • Perception of efort
  • Proteus efect
  • Virtual embodiment
  • Virtual reality
  • Vr cycling

Cite this