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"S.Minocha" <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 16 Apr 2008 09:21:16 +0100
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Full-time PhD Studentship

Closing date for applications: 30th April, 2008

Department of Computing, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Influence of 3-D Virtual Worlds on Consumer's Expectations in 2-D E-Commerce Environments
This PhD studentship is funded by the Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology (MCT). The MCT Faculty is one of the Open University's most research-intensive units. There are excellent research facilities, equipment and technical support. You will be based in Milton Keynes, UK in the Human-Computer Interaction group in the Department of Computing. The Department of Computing in MCT is a part of the Centre for Research in Computing ( at the Open University.

The Project 

3-D virtual worlds are multimedia immersive, simulated environments, often managed over the Web, which users can 'inhabit'. The users can interact via their own graphical, humanoid, self-representations known as 'avatars'. 3-D virtual worlds are being used in many applications: education/training, gaming, social networking, marketing, and commerce. Some examples are: and for social networking; World of Warcraft is a Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG); and Second Life, primarily for education and business Research on 3-D virtual worlds has focussed primarily in the areas of the education, computer supported collaborative working (CSCW), and MMORPGs. Businesses have begun to advertise in 3-D virtual worlds. They seek to create a brand presence, and provide products and services for avatar-based consumption. However, little is known about the patterns of consumption in 3-D virtual worlds.  Nothing has been reported on how consumers' expectations of 2-D e-commerce environments vary depending on exposure to 3-D virtual worlds. 

The aim of this research project is to examine the effect of the use of 3-D virtual worlds on consumers' expectations and satisfaction with 2-D e-commerce environments. We will investigate whether or not consumer's experiences with 3-D virtual worlds have a bearing on what they expect from 2-D e-commerce environments.  We will examine how this influences their perceptions of the satisfaction with the service provider. We will explore the potential service design implications facing organisations engaged in e-commerce activities. We will investigate questions such as: whether and how the expectations and behaviours of consumers with experience of 3-D virtual worlds differ from those of consumers without such experience? How avatar-based consumption behaviours in 3-D virtual worlds can influence the choices and behaviours of consumers in 2-D e-commerce environments? More details of the project and the application procedure are available at: Informal enquiries about the proposed research can be made by e-mail to Dr. Shailey Minocha ([log in to unmask]). 

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed research we would like to hear from candidates who have a Masters Degree in Human-Computer Interaction, Psychology, Sociology, or a related discipline, and have an outstanding research potential and a keen interest in Usability, Consumer Behaviour, and 3-D virtual worlds. 

The studentship provides a standard living allowance (of 12,600 per annum and tax-free) for up to three years subject to satisfactory progress. For further information about the PhD studies, in general, contact the postgraduate admissions tutor, Dr. Leonor Barroca ([log in to unmask]); or email the Research School ( ). 

The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

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