Things I have learnt so far… this week – the Proteus effect

This week I was writing my thesis… (for a change) and I came across a term which I had already come across before but which is interesting to note again. If we’re discussing the virtual environment irrespective of 2D or 3D platforms, we have to take into consideration how the individuals represent themselves. There are those people who actually say that they feel more comfortable communicating over social networks for example than in real life. There are those people who actually have a parallel life running on the 3D world, whether this is a social world or a game world.

So Yee and Bailenson, in 2007, coined the term “The Proteus Effect” which basically describes how the way people behave in the virtual environment is dependent pretty much on the representation in the online world. So if in a virtual world, the avatar is attractive, and tall, then the behavior of the avatar becomes more assertive, confident, bordering on the aggressive in game contexts. Popularity also increases amongst the other avatars and this could lead to a more productive behavior.

Now my avatar, enaV Follet, is a pretty brunette, with short hair (all over the place) and a motorcyclist outfit… what does THAT say about me, I wonder? 😉


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