It is estimated that at least 80% of Internet users have an avatar. I have one-it varies depending on site (as some demand a “real image”)-however, I am almost always characterized as odd looking man in black typically with a raven on my head. Yes, I must confess, I exude the characterization of a hermetic loner, who doesn’t frequent social circles, and likely has bird poop and feathers all over me. Is that really who I am? Some might agree, but really, I am the opposite, and I hate birds! (I can go into anaphylactic shock around those buggers!). In reality, I just have an irksome infatuation with Edgar Allan Poe.
According to this source “membership in the avatar world has increased more than twenty-fold between 2006 to 2009 and has reached about 15 million.” Wow. That’s a lot of avatars!
No matter how experimental someone tries to be in the virtual world, the reality is that true personality traits are expressed through the choosing of one’s avatar. There’s no escape how peculiar a person is even in cyber space!
Marketing strategists now study avatars and have come to some telling conclusions about the avatars floating around in the Internet. The visual clues even in cyber space let marketers know who to target for what sort of product and at what time. This may be why some Internet ads seem to follow you around on the Internet. If you have a particular avatar, chances are that you frequent certain Internet sites, and therefore buy certain products and brands. Think about your avatar and then continue to read below!
Currently, there is a $70 billion Internet shopping market out there world wide says this source. Avatars make or break the sale.
When people view their own avatars, or one similar to them drinking a certain brand of soda, or utilizing a particular product, they had significant favoritism towards that product. The subliminal message was very strong. This is what marketing experts count on, as they target certain groups who use a group of similar avatars in related Internet sites. The marketing experts know that they can persuade people to buy things that are grouped with avatars with a close likeness to yours.
If the avatar wears a black uniform, for example, they are more aggressive and tough or mean. A study by Stanford confirms that a black robe or long jacket is an indication of anti-social/rebellious behavior.
Height and size of the avatar is a good indicator of one’s confidence-so too is the attractiveness of that avatar. (Okay, I guess I see myself as ugly in the real world). The avatar extends into real life and visa versa. The more attractive the avatar, the more attractive the person using it is assumed. A study by Humanity Online states that even with all of the expertise at will, an attractive avatar is simply more persuasive in closing a business deal. (My Edgar Allan Poe avatar will now be wearing a Victoria Secret bra!).
In a similar study by Stanford indicated that when participants of a study viewed their chosen avatar everyday while exercising and dieting, they were less motivated to lose weight if the avatar stayed the same weight/appearance. However, those who saw their avatar decrease in weight were much more likely to put extra effort into losing weight.
Gender, even if misleading (male avatar for a real female Internet user), of the avatar is revealing about the overall masculinity and favoritism towards a specific gender. People judge others by their avatars, even if they are not completely accurate, much like in the real world when people put on false airs.
Female avatars sell more products, finds this research. Interestingly, this same study found that when the “cat and mouse” of social interaction was played out on the Internet, no one liked being the female because they are still seen as the “respondent” and not the “initiator”. Most people, the study went on to say, want to be the “initiator”.
When people choose an androgynous or anthropomorphic avatar (like a bunny, frog, cartoon character, etc.) this was typically done so that they could be seen as more likable, less confronting, and more social. By having less human qualities and less of a human image, they weren’t conceived as threatening. This study done in Connecticut found that people thought that people linked to the “less human”, inanimate object type avatars were more sincere and trustworthy. This was only uprooted in connectivity if the person using the avatar exerted personality traits that clashed with the image of the avatar (like a bunny avatar being rude, bullish, and crass through Internet communication). Because the gender can’t be ascertained with these types of avatars, other people judge socially normal stereotypes related to gender to make that determination. For example, if the bunny is now acting like a horny, zealous, porn magnet wanting to hump every girl avatar out there, this bunny must be a male. However, the same bunny avatar can be wearing a g-string panty and now be considered a girl (or a confused male, however one perceives it!).
(SEE TABLE for further visual explanation)
When a child avatar is used, most people don’t perceive them as either gender, as indicated in the above table. However, if pressed, some people will guess that they belong to a female Internet user. Unless there is evidence of some sexual deviance, most people don’t find the child avatars appealing or attractive and prefer avatars that appear like those they would mate with in the real world (Physical traits, maturity,etc).
An animal avatar brings out the most gender confusion. It is the representation of an animal avatar that is the least attractive and the most androgynous for male Internet users. The green lizard is the least liked avatar world-wide according to this one survey. This is probably why site owners typically choose a batch of avatars for their guests to use that have more female or male characteristics.
Internet users in general (both genders) found that the object-type avatars were not only more trustworthy and sincere, but thought of the animal avatars were the most evasive and obscure/closed to exposing their true identities.
Changing the avatar is quite expensive once everyone on the Internet knows you by a certain image. For example, if I were to change my avatar to a buxom young lady with humongous lips, I doubt anyone would want to read my articles or books anymore. The Internet has grown quite fond of a peculiar, distorted broken man equated with pooping ravens, bipolar mania, and ranting poems. That is who Asher Kade is. As the infamous song goes, who are you?
If you are serious fan of my publishing’s, you will know that I have Roger Daltrey’s hair in real life, only much more red….