University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Virtually a Girl: Gender Identification in Second Life

Mitra, Barbara and Golz, Paul Virtually a Girl: Gender Identification in Second Life. Behaviour & Information Technology. ISSN Print: 0144-929X Online: 1362-3001 (Submitted)

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The notion of gender is a key part of our identity which affects how we perceive and interact with ourselves and others. With the growth of virtual worlds our avatar becomes our agent, representing our “self” in these worlds. Here we examine the relationship we have to our avatars, in particular their gender. We introduced 46 novice users to Second Life and asked them to complete tasks. Participants were then asked to change the gender of their avatar to continue these tasks. We found that the attitude towards the “changed-gender” avatar was highly correlated with the participant’s real life gender, with females reporting strong feelings of discomfort and awkwardness. Our study indicates that females identify more strongly with their avatars, especially their appearance. Males were more comfortable having avatars that did not resemble their real life selves in terms of gender or appearance. We suggest that this is a natural evolution of the stronger identification of self with image that females reportedly experience.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

This is the authors' original manuscript which has been submittted for peer-review.

Uncontrolled Keywords: gender, virtual world, identity, avatar, Second Life
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
Academic Departments > Institute of Sport and Exercise Science
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Paul Golz
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2015 14:04
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2015 14:04

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