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Online gaming avatars might affect real-life behaviour


A new study has revealed that virtual avatar may affect an individual's behavior after the game is over.

Gunwoo Yoon and Patrick Vargas at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign got 194 undergraduate students to play a game in which they were assigned either a heroic avatar (Superman), a villainous avatar (Lord Voldemort), or a neutral avatar (a circle), CNet reported.

The students were then asked to take part in a different study, where they had to first taste and then dole out either chocolate or chili sauce to a future participant.

The study found that the players who had picked a 'Superman' avatar in the study overwhelmingly chose to pour the sweet chocolate sauce, nearly twice as often as they chose chili and gave larger servings of chocolate than the participants with 'Voldemorts' avatar.

Yoon said that these behaviors occur despite modest, equivalent levels of self-reported identification with heroic and villainous avatars, alike.

He added that in virtual environments, people can freely choose avatars that allow them to opt in to or opt out of a certain entity, group, or situation and that consumers and practitioners should remember that powerful imitative effects can occur when people put on virtual masks.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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First Published: Tue, February 11 2014. 14:44 IST