These readings really opened my eyes to both the negatives and positives that can come out of how one chooses to represent themselves online, and especially how it can change your behavior in and outside the game.

As Yee and Bailenson state, “users in online environments may conform to expectations and stereotypes of the identity of their avatars.” The results of this study did not surprise me at all, I fully expected the people with the “attractive” avatars to be more outgoing, confident, and personal because sadly in our world being attractive is more accepted.

As Goffman states, “the expressiveness of the individual (and therefore his capacity to give impressions) appears to involve two radically different kinds of of sign activity: the expression that he gives, and the expressions that he gives off.” So my thoughts are.. if a person is given an attractive avatar that isn’t in fact attractive, they give the expression that they are attractive but do they give off the expression that they are? Or do they scream awkward catfish?

Here is a link to a video that is also a study done by Stanford University. In this study, they studied how you choose to represent your avatar actually changes your actions both IN and OUTSIDE the game… which is amazing to me. The example they gave was taking a 20 year old guy and giving him an older avatar, and also providing with him plenty of money. He decided to save the money and make smart, business decision. While others who were given younger avatars, spent their money carelessly on partying and such.

But, my favorite party of this video was definitely the “physical health” aspect. This girl was used in a study where the avatar did whatever she did. So if she went running or working out, so did the avatar. And the avatar showed it loosing weight, and if she stopped it showed the avatar gaining weight again.

How Avatars Change Your Behavior

My friend who took this class last semester is very shy in real life, but when she showed me her avatar she looked anything but shy. She was a skinny, sexy, blonde character who was wearing an extremely revealing outfit. A few times I was with her when she had to meet on SecondLife for class and she was completely outgoing and confident to others she came in contact with. For example, the online presentations of the avatars we had to do.. she was FIRST in line to present. But if we were in real life, she would’ve probably gone last because she wouldn’t have even raised her hand because she was too scared and nervous to talk in front of people.