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.