Culturally-Grounded Virtual Identities: A Case Study in a Qatari Context
Mixed-methods qualitative (interviews and coding) and computational (AI) approach to understanding relationships between social identities, cultural values, and virtual identity technologies (e.g., online profiles and avatars).
This research presents our mixed-methods qualitative and computational approach to understanding relationships between social identities, cultural values, and virtual identity technologies (e.g., online profiles and avatars).
As a case study demonstrating our approach for understanding culturally-specific needs and values related to virtual identity use, we analyzed over 42,000 publicly-available Qatari social media profiles using AI approaches (archetypal analysis) and more than 250 profiles using manual qualitative analytic methods.
Additionally, we conducted semi-structured interviews of 5 Qatari virtual identity users (social media and videogames). The qualitative analyses revealed needs/values regarding supports for local cultural (Khaleeji) features, self-expression, social connections, peer-monitoring, and contrasts between physical/virtual identity. The computational analysis contributed to and verified these findings by discovering clusters of virtual identity use explainable by these needs/values.
Finally, we demonstrate that our approach and findings suggest principles for virtual identity system design to support Qatari users in negotiating virtual identity technologies while preserving cultural traditions.