Avatars, almost every internet user has at least one of them running around somewhere on the web. We control then in numerous games and forums, but do they also control us?
Researchers at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at the Stanford university have researched the effects of the appearance of avatars on the behavior of their 'controllers'. People with a more attractive avatar acted more extrovert and outgoing than the ones with a less good looking one.
This effect however isn't as surprising as the following effect: it doesn't wear of once the computer is turned off.
In a test the subjects were asked to first interact in a digital space and afterward, without knowing that it still was the same experiment, to split money with another person in real life. People who have been playing with taller avatars were more likely to make unfair split proposal in their favor and less likely to accept an unfair offer from the other side. This also works the other way around: shorter avatars result in less aggressive negotiating and accepting less fair offers.
So are you ready to take your digital booster shots before you go into a meeting? and what kind of negotiator do you want to be?
Read the entire research article by Nick Yee and Jeremy Bailenson (pdf).