Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Real stereotypes continue to exist in virtual worlds

05.05.2015

Stereotypes related to gender and appearance that burden women in the real world could follow them into virtual ones, according to researchers.

In a study of how people interacted with avatars in an online game, women received less help from fellow players than men when they operated an unattractive avatar and when they used a male avatar, said T. Franklin Waddell, a doctoral candidate in mass communications, Penn State.


This image shows three levels of attractiveness in avatars from World of Warcraft.

© World of Warcraft/Blizzard Entertainment

"It doesn't matter if you have an ugly avatar or not, if you're a man, you'll still receive about the same amount of help," said Waddell, who worked with James Ivory, associate professor of communication, Virginia Tech. "However, if you are a woman and operate an unattractive avatar, you will receive significantly less help."

Waddell said the findings, which were released in the recent issue of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, are similar to those in previous research on how appearance stereotypes affect men and women in the real world. There, women are more likely to suffer negative consequences based on their appearance than men are, he said.

"Overall, many of the same gender and sexual stereotypes seem to permeate the online worlds," Waddell said. "The study supports the idea that our responses to stereotypes and norms follow us from real life into virtual environments."

In another finding, players were less likely to help a woman who controlled a male avatar than a man who controlled a female avatar.

"Although woman are typically less penalized for engaging in cross-sex behavior than men in offline settings, we found an opposite pattern in the online setting, such that men were allowed to control either a male or female avatar without penalty, whereas women were penalized for controlling an opposite-sex avatar," Waddell said. "In other words, when the stereotype would typically benefit women, the pattern was flipped in the virtual world, allowing men to engage in 'gender bending' with their avatar, whereas women were not encouraged to. So it truly is a lose-lose for women in online settings, according to our study."

The findings suggest that businesses may want to offer fewer, not more, options if workers use avatars to interact with colleagues or customers, according to the researchers.

"Businesses often want to provide employees and customers with as many technological options as possible," said Waddell. "However, if business people are going to use avatars to interact with each other or with customers, they may want to use avatars that are gender neutral, for example, or they risk bringing all of those stereotypes from the real world into their online environments."

The researchers used six different avatars to study reactions to help requests among 2,300 players of the online game, World of Warcraft. The avatars represented male and female creatures across three different levels of attractiveness. Prior to this study, participants had evaluated the levels of attractiveness as high, medium and low.

During an online session, a researcher would approach a player with a request for directions in the game. To test the magnitude of the favor, the researcher either asked the player to provide directions to a site in the game -- a small favor -- or asked the player to actually guide the researcher to the site -- a large favor. The researchers used other cues to signal the sex of the operator.

"For example, if I approach a player, I might say, 'Can you help a guy out?' to signal that I was a male operating the avatar," said Waddell. "If I wanted to signal that I was a female operator, I would say, 'Can you help a girl out?'"

Media Contact

Matt Swayne
mls29@psu.edu
814-865-9481

 @penn_state

http://live.psu.edu 

Matt Swayne | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>