What does your avatar say about you?

[From Discovery News]

What Does Your Avatar Say About You? 

Analysis by David Teeghman
Thu Jul 29, 2010

The website Second Life lets users create a completely new identity in virtual reality. Tall people can become short and animals can pretend to be humans, because on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

But even with the range of possibilities to completely change your online personality and become all you ever dreamed of, you won’t. Researchers at Concordia University in Canada report in the journal Psychology and Marketing that online avatars usually reflect the personality of their creators. What’s more, people react to each other online the same way they do out in the real world. 

“For example, attractive avatars with stylish hair and clothes were perceived to be extroverted,” said H. Onur Bodur, in a press release.

It’s already known that people judge a book by its cover in the real world, but before this study, it was less clear how users judged other people online. Turns out it’s not so different.

The connection between the offline and online world has been studied before. A Stanford University research project found that online avatars that look like us can change our offline behaviors.

But it seems that we aren’t changing ourselves online.

This is big news as Second Life, and other websites like it, become more popular. Researchers say the avatar world at large grew more than twentyfold between 2006 to 2009 and has now reached about 15 million. What’s more, they estimate that by 2011, 80 percent of Internet consumers and Fortune 500 companies will have an avatar or presence in some type of virtual community.

But people do tend to embellish their avatars somewhat. Not everyone can be like Dwight from “The Office,” who created a Second Life avatar that was similar in every way to his real self, except he could fly.

Because, you know, flying is cool.

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