December 30, 2012

Women Prefer Nudity In Online Avatars

Unrelated to traditional measures of traditional measures of attractiveness, virtual women reveal more skin, regardless of real life body proportions.

“Enter a world with infinite possibilities and live a life without boundaries, guided only by your imagination.”

That’s the tagline on the ‘What is Second Life’ web page.

For those of you who haven’t heard, Second Life is a virtual reality world for grown folks complete with different worlds for different interests. For example, art, music, business, and of course WHAM, or Where Hot Adults Meet.

A mass multi-player online ‘game’ where people use the anonymity and expansiveness of online interaction to fulfill sexual desires? What a surprise!

According to research published December 26 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Matthieu Guitton and colleagues from Laval University, Canada, women on Second Life expose way more skin than their male counterparts.

Having never been on second life myself, I decided to quickly make a profile and do a little exploring.

Sure enough! I found that nearly every woman roaming the game was wearing lingerie, a bikini, some midriff-exposing top, or more often, was completely nude. I even came across a larger than life dragon-person with human breasts and a gigantic red penis. Crazy, but I’m straying from the point.

Back to the next to nude avatars of female users.

We humans cover up for various climatic, environmental, physical and cultural reasons, so measuring people’s tendency to reveal skin can be difficult, if not nearly impossible, in the real world. In order to study human behavior free some of these constraints, the researchers examined how male and female avatars in the virtual world of Second Life dressed.

“Second Life offers users options to choose the gender, appearance and attire of their virtual avatars, and users can select clothing from several items created in this virtual world, rather than being restricted to a predefined costume.

They found that out of over 400 virtual people studied, 71% of male avatars covered between 75-100% of their skin, while only 5% of females did. In contrast, 47% of the virtual females they studied covered between 25-49% of their skin, compared to 9% of males. The amount of skin covered was independent of traditional gender-specific measures of physical attractiveness for virtual avatars, such as waist-chest ratios for females.”

According to the study, “These findings have implications for understanding how sex specific aspects of skin disclosure influence human social interactions in both virtual and real settings.”

The shocker, in my opinion, is that the women are the one showing all the skin. Maybe I’m being sexist, but I generally assume there are more horny men online. The hiccup within this study is that the game is more about expression and connection than it is about fulfilling sexual desires, therefore it sort of makes sense that more women would seek to portray themselves as sexier or more scantily clad than they would be in real life, since none of the aforementioned factors for covering our skin play a role. Then there’s the anonymity factor.

In my opinion, 400 users is not enough of a pool to make a reliable generalization. Also, more research has to be done into the psychological profiles of the users. Without those two factors, it seems to me to be flawed information.

Image Credit: GN / Shutterstock

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