'Avatars' mirror individual's true personality

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Washington, July 27 (ANI): Avatars can portray a very lifelike and accurate depiction of a person's true personality, within the virtual world, according to a new study.

Dr. H. Onur Bodur of Concordia University and a former graduate student, Jean-Francois Belisle used the sophisticated avatar-based community Second Life as their model for the study, which has its own economy and facilitates real-money transactions.

"This virtual world stands out because it has its own economy, where real-money transactions occur. Membership in the avatar world has increased more than twentyfold between 2006 to 2009 and has reached about 15 million," said Belisle.

Members of the community use particular avatar traits or visual cues, such as attractiveness, gender, stylish hair, or expression ("babyfaceness" is associated with cooperation), to form impressions or opinions about the human behind the avatar.

Avatar-creators were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their personalities and these characteristics were compared with the impression their avatars made on viewers. Physical traits such as hair length and colour, body shape, style and type of clothes provided visual clues about the human behind the avatar.

Dr. Bodur said: "Overall, the impressions made by the physical traits of the avatar match certain dimensions of the true personality of the creator. For example, attractive avatars with stylish hair and clothes were perceived to be extroverted. This was confirmed by the personality measures obtained from Second Life participants."

"This correlation between avatar and creator helps identify the consumers behind the avatars and will lead to improved avatar-marketing strategy. Our findings will also help guide the choice of visual cues in the design of corporate avatars representing real-world companies."

He added: "This research, which aligns with other research that says that accurate impressions can be formed through access to very limited information, such as images of someone's dorm room, work space, or website. This and future research can show whether online presentations of consumers (e.g., avatars) can be used to identify and segment consumers."

This study appears in the journal Psychology and Marketing. (ANI)

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