A polythetic model of player-avatar identification: Synthesizing multiple mechanisms

Edward P. Downs, Nicholas Bowman, Jaime Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identification is understood to be central to player–avatar relations in digital games however, extant literature is fragmented. Scholars tend to either treat discrete features of identification as equivalent to the broader construct or use a rigid, monothetic measurement architecture that potentially excludes some who may actually identify with a game avatar. Toward a more inclusive model, then, this study integrated different factors culled from the literature to develop a more comprehensive measurement scheme in which physical similarity, value homophily, wishful identification, perspective-taking, liking, and embodiment are all subconstructs that fall under the larger umbrella of the player–avatar identification construct. The second-order factor structure suggests the construct to be more complex than is currently engaged in the literature, and a polythetic approach to measuring identification is proposed for understanding gamers’ connections with their avatars.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDefault journal
StatePublished - Oct 2017


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