Decision-making in-socio and in-situ: Facilitation in virtual worlds

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Past research suggests that "situatedness", i.e. the context, as well as the social interaction that occurs within it, play an important role in cognitive processes such as learning and decision-making. Thus far, IT tools have been limited in the level and type of situatedness they facilitate. The advent of virtual worlds has changed this. Virtual worlds provide open, three-dimensional platforms for creating and designing real life-like spaces; they also allow for interaction between users in the form of "avatars" in that space. This research study focuses on virtual worlds as platforms for learning and decision-making. We propose a model that explains how individuals in a group learn and make decisions through a process that is influenced by the two unique characteristics of virtual worlds that enable situatedness: the facilitation for designing real life-like spaces, and the facilitation of rich many-to-many interactions. We draw on theories of situated cognition, social cognition, and flow to explicate the influence of these characteristics on the process of learning and decision-making. Data was collected by means of a quasi-experiment in Second Life (SL). Results from this study extend and validate the predictions of situated theories of decision-making within the context of a virtual world environment and suggest guidelines for practitioners who wish to use such environments to support organizational learning and decision-making. Perhaps the most compelling of these is to focus on maximizing the immersion of the individual in the activity by stimulating his or her perceptions of others and activity-related cues in the environment. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Decision Support Systems





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