MarComedy: Don’t make me laugh

For what tickles my fancy in media, communications and life in general.

Virtual Men Are Still Just Men (Still not sharing feelings)

with 2 comments

Revealing study from some smart folks over at Yale University.  The study, published in CyberPsychology & Behaviour, has found that virtual men (or at least the avatars) model certain behaviours that are carried-over from the real world. Men:

stood on average 7.7 feet away from each other, compared to 6.9 feet for mixed-gender pairs — measured, of course, in the virtual scale of Second Life. Female-female pairs stood only slightly closer to each other than male pairs, but were more likely to maintain eye contact. Avatars of all genders were more likely to look away from each other when standing close, much like people in the real world face away when crammed into an elevator. (source)

The authors conclude that the rules of engagement in Second Life are governed by the same social norms as social interactions in the physical world.

This reminded me of something I read on Josh Hallett’s Hyku blog. Josh, courtesy of  Shel Israel, notes: "I hate the term virtual friends, my friends aren’t virtual, they’re real people." (Shel has more to say on the subject here.)

I find this fascinating. I don’t play around in Second Life, but I have often wondered whether people would use their avatars as a way to express their ideal selves. Would they adopt looks and physiques that matched their own (Maybe, but only to a point)? Would they do things as they do them in the real world or would they use Second Life to act out fantasies or other behaviour incompatible with their real-world selves (I think so)? Can anyone explain Second Life hookers to me? I get the money-making side but who are their johns???

This also raises some questions for Marketing/PR types helping companies set up shop in SL:

  • Who are you marketing to? The avatars or the people behind them?
  • If social interaction is governed by the same norms at the real world, are purchasing patterns the same?
  • Does SL require a change in brand positioning and what are you gaining by extending your brand into this virtual world?
  • How are you interacting with SL avatars? Is it an engagement that has currency in, and an extension to, the real world?

These are pretty basic questions, but ignoring the relationship between the virtual and the real person seems like it would be a pretty basic mistake.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who’s active in SL and whether they find their avatars are merely extensions of themselves or a whole new you.

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

February 23, 2007 at 3:47 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Jonathan,
    I have to tell you that I find most good bloggers of either gender to be quite good at showing their emotions and discussing them. I don’t think you can be a good blogger without being up close and personal.

    As to your 2nd Life hookers, I leave you to do your research on that in the privacy of your own home.

    shel israel

    February 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm

  2. Shel,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Though I can’t see myself spending any more time thinking about SL solicitation, I welcome your point that good bloggers are those that let their personality and intellect shine in equal measure.


    Jonathan Dunn

    February 26, 2007 at 11:30 am

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