What the avatar says about a person: the social scientists did a new study

What the avatar says about a person: the social scientists did a new study

On the Internet, people use avatars. Scientists have decided to find out what the users want to do by choosing a profile image -- a desire to hide or a way to express their digital self. In a new study, Trinity College staff found that both motives are important. Thus, the choice of avatar is not only a creative act of self-presentation, but also an attempt at escapism and an expression of the need for conformism.

Scientists explain that this is due to the fact that experiments in the digital world are safer. They have noted that the impact of the virtual environment on reality has been actively fuelled by the last two years of physical isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. "This makes our work even more relevant," scientists write in an article.

In the course of the study, social scientists developed a new evaluation system that combines intersectionality and social identity theory.

Intersectism refers to the fact that the intersection of identities determines the inclusion or discrimination of a person in certain social contexts, and the theory of social identity is "accountable" for social dynamics in terms of belonging to groups and explains how a person's perception of himself is shaped by his or her membership in these groups.

Scientists have learned that in choosing the avatar, the user may need to adjust his or her visible or recognizable view according to what is available to him or her. For example, some social applications of virtual reality support only the binary system of the sexes and stereotypical images of the body. In other cases, the user may want to look in a certain way to fit the community with which he or she interacts. In any case, the human digital body affects social interaction and whether or not it is appropriate for certain groups of society.

The authors noted that today the avatar is the basis for millions of daily social interactions in a virtual environment, but it does not necessarily reflect the identity and characteristics of the user.