Your virtual world avatar is more an extention of yourself than you think!
In fact, most people behave in a similar fashion within a virtual world as they do in the physical world. Researchers at California State University in Los Angeles have found that “People don’t go online to leave their bodies behind and find new selves, but instead seem to be taking their offline selves, including their biological selves, with them.”
In the study, published in the “Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology” the classic sex differences in play preferences of fifth graders, characterized by rough-and-tumble games among boys and intimate conversations among girls, existed even after youngsters adopted a range of personas for virtual encounters In fact, only 13% of the participants decided to switch genders. The vast majority stayed true to their gender and their physical world behavior even when they changed genders of their avatar. Check out the full article at Playing for Real in a Virtual World.
In another study, researcher Paul W. Eastwich at Northwestern University found that “interactions among strangers within the virtual world are very similar to interactions between strangers in the real world.” Even in the area of racial bias. Eastwich goes on to say “You would think when you're wandering around this fantasyland … that you might behave differently, but people exhibited the same type of behavior -- and the same type of racial bias -- that they show in the real world all the time.”
The sense of who a person is and what they represent is clearly reflected in the online behaviors of their avatars. One's sense of self is merely extended into the virtual space. Read the article Researchers Find Racial Bias in Virtual Worlds for yourself.
As you can see, much can be infered from how you choose to represent yourself as an avatar within a virtual world. You can change hair styles, body type, skin tone, and other elements of the avatar to create just the right look for the virtual extension of your physical self and, it turns out, you act the same way in world as you do in physical space whether you mean to or not.
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