A Second Life Within Second Life: Are Virtual World Users Creating New Selves and New Lives?

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Virtual worlds such as Second Life (SL) are online computer-based world-like spaces, where users assume virtual selves or avatars to interact with others, create objects, and engage in a variety of transactions. This paper examines SL residents' avatars, activities, and the relation between residents' offline characteristics and online avatars and activities. The authors examined whether there was a relationship between residents' identity style and online beliefs and activities, specifically those related to self-presentation and identity exploration via avatars and relationship formation as they are related to one's sense of self. An online survey of 378 SL residents (age range = 18-69) was conducted. Respondents were asked to complete an SL survey (containing questions about their avatars, use, and activities within SL) and the Identity Style Inventory sixth grade reading level (ISI-6G). Results suggested that SL avatars were mostly human, and were of the same gender as the residents' offline self; SL activities were similar to every day offline ones. Latent variable analysis revealed that identity processing styles were partially related to beliefs and activities within SL. The study suggests SL residents may not be creating second lives within this virtual world, but are instead bringing elements of their first or offline lives into this online context.

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International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology, and Learning



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In Copyright