Study finds players who identify with fit avatars might be motivated to get into shape

A study from the University of Missouri shows that the link between virtual video game avatars and the player's physical body might be greater than once expected, with the study finding that players who strongly relate to fit avatars in the virtual world might be encouraged to become healthier in the real world.

The study, conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, surveyed 249 players of the game Second Life to see how identifying with a virtual representation of the self influenced a person's life in the physical world.

Published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, the study found that "the avatar links the virtual to the physical body, and, through this interplay of one's online and offline identities, the virtual may become meaningful to the physical body and self."

An example provided in the study is for someone looking to lose weight, creating a fitter avatar helps them visualize being in better shape and motivates them to take action.

Behm-Morawitz says that while a virtual world like Second Life is not used specifically as a motivational health tool, the findings of the study suggest that someone who participates in a virtual world for social reasons is more likely to experience the effects of the avatar. She says the results aren't limited to Second Life, either. Any virtual world that gives the player control over the design and interaction of the avatar can have similar effects.

More from Polygon

Enemy Starfighter: Homeworld from inside a fighter

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare gameplay trailer

  • Diablo 3 - Xbox One vs. PC comparison

  • Hearthstone - Military Quarter gameplay video

  • Elite: Dangerous Overview video

Latest Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5353_tracker