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Study finds that women are less clothed than men, virtually speaking

Canadian researchers studying Second Life have found that virtual women avatars wear less clothing on average than their male counterparts, according to a study published on Plos One.

Virtually Naked: Virtual Environment Reveals Sex-Dependent Nature of Skin Disclosure covered "humanoid avatars that were not covered by fur"(read: no Furries) in Linden Lab's online virtual world. By comparing the amount of skin showing on 404 avatars, Anna M. Lomanowska and Matthieu J. Guitton found that"virtual females disclose substantially more naked skin than virtual males."

The researchers propose several explanations for the findings, including "implicit cultural influences on skin disclosure" that carry over from the real world into Second Life. Other theories include a desire on the part of the avatar's owners to "accentuate sexuality and attract attention" from their online cohorts.

Although the researchers admit that their "observational approach enables us only to make inferences about the behavioral tendencies of the human users behind the avatars," they call for further study to examine the phenomenon in the real world.