The clothes you wear matter. Sorry to tell you that if you're wearing gym shorts and a tee shirt with a mustard stain right now, but there are many studies in the psychology literature showing that other people look at what someone is wearing and use that information to make judgments about what kind of person they are and what kind of authority or status hey have.
Half the time, the person a man wore "high status" clothes: a pressed suit, a white dress shirt, a tie, and shiny shoes.
The proteus effect free download
And half the time he wore dirty trousers, a blue denim shirt, and scuffed shoes. In both conditions, the man would approach the intersection and cross against the "Do Not Walk" al. The experimenters huddled nearby, watching and counting the of people who would take the man's transgression as a that it was okay for them, too, to break the law and cross against the al. When the man was dressed sharply, people were 3.
The proteus effect
Appearances matter. But it's not just that they matter to other people. Subsequent research has found that our dress can influence our OWN behaviors as well. Those told they were dressed as doctors did better on a task that required attention to detail. But it's Who's talking about clothes in ?
What about changing your appearance at a much more fundamental level? What about the appearance of your avatar in a video game or virtual reality?
What if, instead of putting on a business suit or a doctor's coat, we became taller? Or became incredibly muscular? Or what if we sprouted angel's wings?
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Well, actually, researchers have got that covered, too. In the early s, researchers Nick Yee, Jeremy Bailenson, and their colleagues began a line of research examining how the appearance of our avatars affect our behaviors.
The team ran experiments, for example, where they had subjects don a virtual reality heet and use avatars that were either attractive or ugly. When talking to another person in the simulation, those using attractive avatars stood closer to them in the virtual space and disclosed more personal details in the course of their conversations.
A similar experiment even got people who were ased tall avatars to be more aggressive in a negotiation exercise that took place outside of virtual reality.
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Yee and Bailenson argued that people felt an urge to conform to what they think other people expect of their avatar based on its appearance. The researchers called this "the Proteus effect" after the Greek mythological figure who could change his shape at will. Someone playing a game as a superhero is more likely to help other people, even outside of the game, for example. And in an illustration of the unfortunate and obstinate power of sexual stereotypes, people of any gender playing with a female avatar in World of Warcraft felt pressure to fill traditionally feminine roles like healing and care giving.
You might be skeptical of how consistent or how powerful this Proteus effect is, and nobody could really blame you.
Fortunately, earlier this year a team of researchers conducted a meta analysis on this phenomenon. A meta analysis, if you don't know, combines data from many different studies to arrive at a conclusion about what they say in aggregate.
Meaning that it only provides a small-ish amount of explanation for why people behave the way they do when inhabiting avatars of one appearance or another. The balance of their behaviors are explained by various other factors. Still, it is true of every psychological phenomenon that it only provides a partial explanation, and the authors point out that the Proteus effect is as big as any other digital media effect.
So while the Proteus effect is not a magical key to understanding behavior in every video game, avatar appearances apparently can drive our behaviors to some extent. Something to keep in mind the next time you're fiddling with that nose depth slider or picking a mustache for your elven wizard.
The proteus effect, revisited
Adam, H. Enclothed Cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology48 4— Lefkowitz, M. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology51 3— Yee, N. Human Communication Research, 33 3 I write and podcast about psychology and video games at www.
My mission in life is to popularize understanding of how psychology can be used to. My mission in life is to popularize understanding of how psychology can be used to understand why games are made how they are and why players behave and think as they do.
The proteus effect
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