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Your Avatar Controls You!

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posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 12:50 AM

Avatars Can Surreptitiously And Negatively Affect User In Video Games, Virtual Worlds

lthough often seen as an inconsequential feature of digital technologies, one's self-representation, or avatar, in a virtual environment can affect the user's thoughts, according to research by a University of Texas at Austin communication professor.

In the first study to use avatars to prime negative responses in a desktop virtual setting, Jorge Peña, assistant professor in the College of Communication, demonstrated that the subtext of an avatar's appearance can simultaneously prime negative (or anti-social) thoughts and inhibit positive (or pro-social) thoughts inconsistent with the avatar's appearance. All of this while study participants remained unaware they had been primed. The study, co-written with Cornell University Professor Jeffrey T. Hancock and University of Texas at Austin graduate student Nicholas A. Merola, appears in the December 2009 issue of Communication Research.

In two separate experiments, research participants were randomly assigned a dark- or white-cloaked avatar, or to avatars wearing physician or Ku Klux Klan-like uniforms or a transparent avatar. The participants were assigned tasks including writing a story about a picture, or playing a video game on a virtual team and then coming to consensus on how to deal with infractions.

Consistently, participants represented by an avatar in a dark cloak or a KKK-like uniform demonstrated negative or anti-social behavior in team situations and in individual writing assignments.

As visual as this site is, this subject has rather interesting implications.

What do you all think?

The articles also includes:

"By manipulating the appearance of the avatar, you can augment the probability of people thinking and behaving in predictable ways without raising suspicion," said Peña. "Thus, you can automatically make a virtual encounter more competitive or cooperative by simply changing the connotations of one's avatar."

[edit on 15-11-2009 by loam]

posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 01:17 AM
I have no avatar. So what is it that controls me and other people's reactions to what I type? Just wondering and probably clueless, as usual.

Edited to add: Nothing afterall.

[edit on 15-11-2009 by kyred]

posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 01:48 AM
Your lack of an avatar provides the viewer a false sense of security? Or maybe your lack of avater makes it clear to us that your skills on the interweb are less than L337.

posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 02:31 AM
I think my avatar represents my opinions fairly well, I try to balance both sides of the debate and reflect on my thoughts before posting, also the colours represent my local community, The old tenement housing of H&W shipbuilders of TITANIC fame,

posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 02:46 AM
reply to post by loam

OMG. You mean to say Brad Pitt is subconsciously controlling me?
I suppose it really comes down to what you have as your avatar; I've noticed over time on here the Mods can be very picky for their own reasons; e.g; you may not have religiously inclined avatars, yet I've noticed quite a few 'Jesus type' characters that seem to fly under the radar.

You may have something here; yet you cant know if the avatar is special to the person without knowing a bit more about them. Look at their photo album and try to assume something- yet be careful what you assume.

posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 04:43 AM
reply to post by loam

What do you all think?

I think how one presents one's self is meaningful. One may benefit or suffer based on it. Therefore, choose the manner of your presentation wisely.

This is equally true in "real life" too.

posted on Nov, 15 2009 @ 04:59 AM
Well, obviously.

You just need to look at same peoples avatars on this forum and see how a lot of people suddenly give them more attention because of their nice graphics.

And I bet they think its more difficult to disagree with a person that has a nice avatar than one that has no avatar.

Yes, human stupidity... its interesting.

[edit on 15-11-2009 by Copernicus]

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