The place of the virtual image of the individual in the perceptual processes of social interaction in virtual space
Social interaction platforms on the Internet have a significant impact on the perception processes and users' social cognition. The interpersonal interaction effectiveness is due to the peculiarities of the visual-figurative reflection of the subjects of each other. At the interaction moment the subject is not the user himself/ herself, but only his/ her semantic reflection, the real personal image filled with symbols and signals, which contains information about him/ her and performs the translator function and the impression managing tool. The personal virtual image is considered as a source of information about the carrier-user. Perception occurs primarily through the prism of the personal experience who perceives the image. Its meaning-forming function is realized by means of generalization and semantic components interpretation. An idea about a particular person through social perception is formed, in which the social cognition mechanisms are actively involved. The main purpose of this article is to determine the personal virtual image place in the interpersonal perception processes in the social interaction act in the virtual space, as well as to identify the features of social perception in virtual space in comparison with the processes of real space. Methodology and methods: The research was carried out in real and virtual spaces. At the stage of the ascertaining experiment, the “Who am I?” test of M. Kuhn and T. McPartland was used as a psychodiagnostic technique to determine the psychological characteristics of the personality image perception in real and virtual space or “20 statements” as modified by T.V. Rumyantseva. The analysis of the results was carried out by means of content analysis. Statistical analysis of the experimental data was carried out using the SPSS 23.0 software (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, Mann-Whitney U-test). Results: Analysis of the research data showed that the social perception processes by subjects of interpersonal interaction in real and virtual spaces have a number of differences. Significant differences were noted in the perception of the personality image individual components. The study made it possible to identify a new personality image structural component that is not characteristic of real space – the virtual Self, which is characterized by a high degree of personality's activity virtualization (interaction with others, self-actualization, self-identification) and the acceptance of virtual space as a full-fledged environment for existence.