Is Virtual Marriage Acceptable? a Psychological Study Investigating the Role of Ambiguity Tolerance and Intimacy Illusion in Online Dating among Adolescents and Early Adults

By Abraham, Juneman; Falah, Annisa | Journal of Psychological and Educational Research, November 2016 | Go to article overview

Is Virtual Marriage Acceptable? a Psychological Study Investigating the Role of Ambiguity Tolerance and Intimacy Illusion in Online Dating among Adolescents and Early Adults


Abraham, Juneman, Falah, Annisa, Journal of Psychological and Educational Research


Introduction

The most current development of virtual marriage defines it as a marriage or contractual agreement that is conducted through internet medium in which the activities (wedding ceremony, kisses, etc.) are "played" and the instrumentalities as well as the artifacts (wedding dress, wedding ring, wedding hall, marriage certificate, marriage norms, wedding accessories, etc.) are present digitally in video games that involve visuals, sound, and social and emotional interactions dimensions between digital representatives of selves (avatars) (Freeman et al., 2015; Lo, 2009; Wu et al., 2007). "Virtual marriage" is synonymous with terms such as "cyber marriage", "online wedding", and "in-game marriage". Considering the terms, virtual marriage contains the combination of "virtual game" and "(traditional) marriage" features. As an illustration, the components of goal-directed playfulness (from virtual game) as well as intimacy, commitment, and sexual interaction (from traditional marriage) could be present in the activity of virtual marriage (Freeman et al., 2015).

Virtual marriage becomes a prevalent phenomenon in the rapid development of technology. This symptom brings about crucial social transformation since the "traditional" norms are pulverized. As an example, virtual marriage enables someone to choose different gender representation from of the life's actuality of him/herself, as well as it enables same-sex marriage without facing resistances which will be experienced in offline marriage in some certain geographic areas. For some people, these possibilities are considered aversive, even offensive, since they contradict the belief they hold firm all this time (Freeman et al., 2015). When virtual marriage tends to be or becomes a real or serious marriage, it has the potency to disrupt the existing marriage. Wu et al. (2007) found that "virtual affair" done by the legitimate spouse in offline world, which involves having virtual sex with someone else and even taking care of virtual babies as a result of virtual marriage, could lead to a divorce. The 3D virtual world nowadays, as it is known, could facilitate virtual sex (Gilbert, Gonzalez, & Murphy, 2011; Hartoyo & Abraham, 2015) - one of the features of virtual marriage.

However, on the other hand, many people could get positive aspects from this phenomenon. As an illustration, many people might agree that virtual marriage enables people to learn from each other intimate relationships and learn how to mingle and negotiate with others who have different social identities; the point is "learn to survive" (Freeman et al., 2015). Virtual marriage can make us "achieve a good sense of presence and reality at a distance" (Knudsen, 2002). About it, some people have given a redefinition on virtual world and considered it as real as the offline world (Gilbert, Murphy, & Ävalos, 2011), at least equally true in affecting human development, as stated in the Co-construction Model (Cool, 2010; Subrahmanyam & Smahel, 2010). The actors of virtual marriage enjoy their "life adventure", which in one of the interpretations, defies conventional values from the offline world which are stereotypic, bureaucratic, and dominated by heterosexual norms (Wu et al., 2007). Virtual marriage could function as a refreshing option in the midst of the "difficulties" of conducting a marriage in offline world which has so many sociological and legal constraints (Wu et al., 2007).

Considering the controversies aforementioned, it is urgent to find the psychological predictors of virtual marriage acceptance. Acceptance is generally defined as "allowing, tolerating, embracing, experiencing, or making contact with a source of stimulation, particularly private experiences, that previously evoked escape, avoidance, or aggression" (Cordova, as cited in Hayes & Pankey, 2003, p. 4). What is meant by virtual marriage acceptance in this study is the attitudes of approving, enduring, and justifying the idea of virtual marriage with its advantages and limitations. …

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