Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder? Attractiveness and Status in a Virtual World.

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The current study examines whether traditional offline gender biases regarding physical attractiveness and status transfer to Second Life (SL), a virtual world where residents can easily manipulate the appearance and status of avatars (i.e., graphical representations of the self). Participants (N = 312, 60.58% female, Mage = 29.77, SD = 10.53) reported on demographics, SL usage, and rated the attractiveness of female and male avatars manipulated along physical attractiveness (high vs. low) and status (high vs. low). Mixed measures ANCOVAs were modeled separately for the female avatars and male avatars with within-subjects factors (avatar characteristics: physical attractiveness and status) and between-subject factors (participant characteristics: sex, and intensity of SL usage), while controlling for participant age. Consistent with offline norms, female avatars high in physical attractiveness were rated as more attractive, regardless of status. Participants rated male avatars high in physical attractiveness as more attractive if they were high in status compared to those low in status. We also found opposite-sex preferences and moderations by participant age and SL usage on avatar attractiveness ratings. The results suggest the continuity of offline gender norms and effect of in-world experience on perceptions of avatar appearance.

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Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace





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In Copyright