Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Avatars and Self Esteem

Over at Technology on a Shoestring, he recently blogged about an NPR podcast about Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. To save you the time of listening to the entire podcast, I'll quote the part that I think is relevant:

"One of the more interesting findings they observed was that when a person picks a better looking avatar from a set of possible avatars, the student will take on some of the attributes of the avatar. For example, subjects were asked to fill out an online dating form in which they picked people they thought they could reasonably date. The subjects who had selected a good looking avatar filled out an online dating form where they projected better possible matches. I should mention that the dating service form was filled out an hour later and that the avatar was not used or associated with the dating system."

Though these students are a lot older than the ones whose "self identity" is in the beginning stages of development, a la Erikson, it still indicates a positive influence from using an online avatar. As many reservations as I have expressed about this phenomenon, the evidence for it seems to be gently edging towards significant.

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