Friday, May 2, 2008

You are who you aren't...

Three cheers for SL!


This just in from my friends at Stanford University, who I don’t have, but considering what they have done, I’d be happy to have them on my friends list.

Why? They have just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt (at least mine, but I’m biased) that SL makes us better people. I think the papers they’ve written on the subject should be required reading for all spouses, friends, parents, bosses or who ever else might be annoyed of your time spent online. You are, to put it briefly, striving to become a better person. And who could argue against that?

Summarized as briefly as possible, the researchers wondered if "users in online environments may conform to the expectations and stereotypes of the identity of their avatars. Or more precisely, they conform to the behavior that they believe others would expect them to have." They have given this behavior the term Proteus Effect. They also mention that in studies done years ago “Male perceivers who believed that a female target was attractive caused her to behave in a more charming and friendly manner regardless of how attractive the target actually was. Thus, in an online environment, a perceiver interacting with a target who is using an attractive avatar may cause the target to behave in a more friendly and charming manner.”

The last bit sounds to me to fit nearly 90 percent of the women I’ve met at Hot Sax. It seems it hasn't got around to all the guys, if Tia's and others comments on this post are anything to go on....

They people at Stanford refer to another experiment where two people are placed in a dark room for an hour and who are then more likely to deliberately touch or hug the other person then those in a well-lit room. (In my days that wasn’t called experimenting, that was called playing post office… but I digress).

They go on to say this: “Online environments that afford anonymity are like digital versions of a darkened room where deindividuation might occur. And in online environments, the avatar is not simply a uniform that is worn, the avatar is our entire self- representation. Thus, we might expect that our avatars have a significant impact on how we behave online.”

And what might it be beyond being nicer if you look sweet? I’d like to add something gleamed from the paper that I shall call “Guys in black are evil, guys in white are okay.” Basically, studies have shown that people who wear black uniforms tend to be more aggressive and more antisocial then those in white uniforms. Those in white uniforms just look tacky – but I added that last bit and it’s got no empiric evidence except fort this horrible white suit I recently saw.

And yet one final nugget of information from the report: If you look like a hottie you’re more likely to spill the beans about your personal life. Or said more scientifically: “Participants in the attractive condition would exhibit higher self-disclosure and present more pieces of information about themselves than participants in the unattractive condition.“

Which means that if you want to get someone talking, just let some nice comments slip in about how attractive their ave looks. It works with me all the time, at least. But then, I look pretty snazzy…. even in black.