How female representation in games affects women

Women who play as over-sexualized female characters in games are more likely to objectify themselves and participate in rape myth acceptance, according to a recent Stanford study published Oct. 11 in Computers and Behavior.

Researchers used 86 female participants between the ages of 18 and 41. Women played as an avatar dressed in either revealing or conservative clothing; some avatars were also modified to look like their player.

Participants were then asked to respond to questions on a five-point scale about their avatar's appearance, resemblance and more. When asked questions such as "In the majority of rapes, the victim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation," researchers found that women who played as sexualized versions of themselves were more likely to "agree" or "strongly agree" than those who played non-sexualized avatars.

Following play time as sexualized avatars, participants asked for write-ups were also more likely to self-objectify themselves in their answers.

According to the study, findings were in line with the Proteus effect — a phenomenon where people act more in-line with an online avatar. The full study is available through Stanford.

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