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Thursday, June 7

Marketing to the online persona

My thesis has once again been quoted completely out of context, without interviewing me, and without my consent. I'm not complaining mind you -- it's a form of flattery. But it does shake one's faith in journalistic integrity, who apparently have the same skills as 12 year olds copying from Wikipedia.

Rider University’s Dr John Suler describes a player’s (resident’s) online persona as often being an amplification of a player’s personality separating them from the real world. He finds residents often experiment with their identity.
“They say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly,” Dr Suler said.

This is called the disinhibition effect.

Some players may be benign in their in-world actions becoming more generous or revealing more about themselves, their wishes and concerns, than they would in real world social interaction.

Other players can show signs of toxic disinhibition reverting to abusive language, violence and harsh criticisms while in-world.

Michael Tresca's Masters thesis said a player’s in-world views are influenced by both a lack of non-verbal clues and visual appearance.

Players use typed dialogue to project an image of their physical self, their personality and thoughts. They rely on various words, capital letters, expletives, exclamation marks and avatar graphics to respond to electronic communication.

They use the three-dimensional avatars to add actions and physical responses to in-world stimuli.

Missing from these communications is the ability of one player to respond to another’s player’s body language, verbal pitches and stresses and other real world physical stimulus.

Mr Tresca said that they are also influenced by the “absence of social context clues”.

“…others exist only within the context of the computer medium, a user can shut the computer off and the entire virtual society ceases to influence that user,” Mr Tresca said in his Master’s Thesis.

Mr Tresca said players believe they are protected from physical and social repercussions of their in-world actions.

“Users may often perceive that they are anonymous when they are not, may find a deeply personal attachment to a label so that it becomes part of their own personality, or may be far less protected from repercussions than they perceive.”

Players can only see each other through the avatar.

Dr Suler said the anonymity works wonders for the disinhibition effect.

“When people have the opportunity to separate their actions from their real world and identity, they feel less vulnerable about opening up,” Dr Suler said.

Mr Tresca’s research indicates that the more anonymous a player is, the more the player’s communication will contain disinhibitive indicators.

The fluidity of a player’s identity is another element of disinhibition as players adopt a new persona with each interaction. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:54 PM


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