Computer-mediated communication systems known as collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) allow geographically separated individuals to interact verbally and nonverbally in a shared virtual space in real time. We discuss a CVE-based research paradigm that transforms (i.e., filters and modifies) nonverbal behaviors during social interaction. Because the technology underlying CVEs allows a strategic decoupling of rendered behavior from the actual behavior of the interactants, conceptual and perceptual constraints inherent in face-to-face interaction need not apply. Decoupling algorithms can enhance or degrade facets of nonverbal behavior within CVEs, such that interactants can reap the benefits of nonverbal enhancement or suffer nonverbal degradation. Concepts underlying transformed social interaction (TSI), the ethics and implications of such a research paradigm, and data from a pilot study examining TSI are discussed.

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