Avatars and the Disease: Digital Customization as a Resource for Self-Perception Assessment in Breast Cancer Patients

Stefano Triberti, Alessandra Gorini, Lucrezia Savioni, Valeria Sebri, Gabriella Pravettoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Avatars, or users' renditions within digital environments, may change depending on modifications of users' self-conception. According to literature, chronic health conditions influence patients and survivors' identity, because living with a disease requires people to reconfigure their self-representation and their own daily life and future plans. This is especially true for breast cancer, whose treatment and surgery also affect patients' body image, sexual identity, and sense of womanhood. In this study, 22 breast cancer survivors were asked to create multiple avatars resembling their actual self (AS), their ideal self (IS), and their self connected to the disease experience; then, they were asked to rate their attitudes toward their three avatars. Results show that disease avatars are significantly different in patients' attitudes toward them from AS and IS avatars. In addition, attitudes toward one's own avatars appeared partially related to clinically relevant psychological states, such as anxiety and depression. Discussion explores suggestions for usage of avatars in interventions for assessment and quality-of-life promotion among chronic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-564
Number of pages7
JournalCyberpsychology, behavior and social networking
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019


  • attitudes
  • avatar
  • breast cancer
  • cancer
  • oncology
  • psychological assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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