Who needs real-life? Examining personal needs in real-life and virtual worlds

Stuart J. Barnes, Andrew D. Pressey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several authors have suggested that virtual worlds provide the potential for an altered reality for their users, who may seek to experiment with different personalities, appearances and personal needs. This paper empirically tests this assertion using Maslow's three higher order needs as the base. A survey delivered in the virtual world Second Life examines needs in real-life and the virtual world and personal characteristics. Using ANOVA the paper tests for differences in needs between the two environments and according to personal characteristics. The study finds that real-life needs significantly dominate virtual world needs. However, the pattern of needs in Second Life is different to real-life needs and emphasizes higher order needs, particularly self-actualization. This is particularly the case for the most innovative users of technology. Needs in real-life are still the key motivator for consumers, but the results also demonstrate the notion of an ‘altered reality’ for some respondents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Computer Information Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Maslow
  • Needs
  • Second Life
  • Virtual worlds

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