Good avatar, bad avatar, who are you going to be online?

Thursday, 12 November, 2009

The avatars we choose to represent ourselves on the web may also have some influence on our conduct online thinks Jorge Peña, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, with people who, say, adopt a Batman avatar subsequently assuming some of the Dark Knight’s traits.

“When you step into a virtual environment, you can potentially become ‘Mario’ or whatever other character you are portraying,” said Peña, who studies how humans think, behave and feel online. “Oftentimes, the connotations of our own virtual character will subtly remind us of common stereotypes, such as ‘bad guys wear black or dress up in hooded robes.’ This association may surreptitiously steer users to think and behave more antisocially, but also inhibit more pro-social thoughts and responses in a virtual environment.”

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