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Page: 123
flash fire
flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Member Since: 25th Jan 2001
Total posts: 2758
Posted:As per threads on 'favourite avatars' in Social Chat, I mentioned that I had previously found some interesting info on the psychology of avatars, which I had posted on another forum that I occasionally visit. It's long, but worth read....:

Found this interesting piece on the psychology of avatars here: http://psydok.sulb.uni-saarland.de/volltexte/2004/117/html/psycyber/psyav.html
This study was based on a particular chat community called The Palace. It's long and interesting - I found myself pinpointing HoPpers with their seemingly relevant psychological disorder and avatar type.



Written by:
We social scientists love to categorize the phenomena we study. So allow me to indulge my professional inclinations. One way to categorize avs would be to use well-known personality types as a guideline - for example, McWilliams (1994) system for psychoanalytic diagnosis. Although these types described by McWilliams are for clinical diagnosis, when translated to a non-pathological dimension, they also are very useful in categorizing "normal" personalities. The theme, characteristics, or interpersonal impact of an avatar may be closely associated with one of these specific types.


narcissistic - themes of power, status, perfection, grandiosity; draws for admiration and praise; feelings of being "special" and "privileged"

schizoid - themes of interpersonal detachment and indifference, perhaps combined with evidence of abstract or intellectual thinking; little evidence of warmth and tenderness; the "loner" themes

paranoid - distrust, isolation, hypervigilance, blaming or finding fault with others; cold, humorless, argumentative characteristics

depressive - gloom, darkness, loss, low self-esteeem

manic - energtic, grandiose, impulsive

masochistic - self-destructive, themes revolving around the "bad self" or "woe is me"

obsessive/compulsive - seriouis, formal; themes of control and perfection; shows evidence of a concern about details and rules

psychopathic - antisocial, violates rules; little evidence of shame or guilt; takes advantage of others; possible superficial friendliness or charm

histrionic - attention-seeking and seductive in flavor, dramatic, emotional, vain; themes involving dependency

schizotypal - themes of being aloof, indifferent; evidence of magical thinking or superstitious beliefs; peculiar characteristics

Another simpler approach to categorizing avatars would be to group them according to more general visual types. Here I'll outline several different categories of custom avatars. By no means is this list definitive or exhaustive. There are many ways to slice a pie. I've chosen these categories partly because some of them are fairly obvious, and partly because each one conveys interesting psychological and social themes - themes that, in some cases, overlap with the personality types described above.

(for each of these sections below, there is a link to a subpage that contains the same text, but with accompanying graphics)

Animal Avatars
Animal avatars are some of the most popular at the Palace. Some people come as their pets. Because animals symbolize certain traits or attributes in myth as well as popular culture (e.g., strength, loyalty, grace, independence, cunning, transcendence), the animal chosen for an avatar probably bears psychological significance to the person - perhaps representing some real aspect of his or her identity, or some characteristic admired by the person. Thinking in the tradition of the Native American, we might even regard an animal avatar as being an individuals "totem" - i.e., a symbol of one's essential nature or potential.

Cartoon Avatars
When Bumgardner designed the Palace, he specifically choose a "cartoony" atmosphere. For example, the balloons that pop out from one's head when speaking is a carry over from the world of comic strips. Bumgardner felt that people would readily identify with this atmosphere and find it intuitively easy to use. The cartoony ambience also fosters a playful regression among users. Bumgardner wanted people to feel like they were "getting away with something" - which surely is a familiar theme in comic strip plots. As a result, it's no surprise that cartoon props proliferate at the Palace. While younger users (adolescents) may be more inclined to don cartoon costumes, older members frequently use them as well. The psychological significance of the cartoon character probably affects the choice made by the user. People select characters with whom they identify or admire. Some cartoon characters have very specific cultural significance and may even represent archetypal personality types (e.g., Bugs Bunny as the confident trickster; Aladdin's genie as the powerful but benevolent friend). Rather than relying on childhood cartoon figures, some adults wear cartoon avs of a more sophisticated style - some of these classified as "anime." The psychological tone of these avs tend to be more seductive, whimsical, or mysterious.

Celebrity Avatars
Celebrity avatars tend to follow trends in popular culture. And like items in popular culture, they may quickly become epidemic and then disappear. There may be a variety of motives behind the use of these avs. People may use them to express personality traits or social issues that are associated with the celebrity's image (sensuality, intelligence, power, corruption, rebellion, etc.). The user may identify with, desire, or be poking fun at these attributes. They may hope to bolster their self-esteem and identity by establishing their connection to the celebrity. They may simply wish to display a knowledge of current events in pop culture. Celebrity avs also advertise one's specific interests in entertainment in order to find like-minded users: "Hey, I like Seinfeld! Anyone else out there like Seinfeld?"

Evil Avatars
Everyone has a dark or "evil" side to his or her personality. The definition of "evil" varies from person to person, although usually it has something to do with malicious, aggressive fantasies and/or feelings of guilt. Note how many Halloween costumes fit this category. As a form of sublimation, evil costumes allow people to safely - and even creatively - express their dark side. While some members may wear an evil av as their facade for the evening (which may reflect their mood at the time), others may "flash" it as a momentary cue to others. Mess with wizards, for example, and they may flash their evil av as a warning that they're getting annoyed and may pin, gag, or kill you. On one occasion, I witnessed a male come on to an attractive female member wearing a real face prop. When her attempts to brush him off failed, she flashed a nefarious looking skull at him. He quickly backed off. Some people may use evil or aggressive avatars as a way (consciously or unconsciously) to alienate or "put off" other people. This might indicate their anxiety about intimacy and being vulnerable.

Real Face Avatars
Most users do not use pictures of themselves as their primary avatars. People prefer the partial anonymity of expressing only limited aspects of their personality through imaginative props. Or they simply enjoy the creative fun of experimenting with new identities through their avs. In more rare cases, members find the use of real face avs to be an uncomfortable, dissociative experience. "I have a picture of myself in the prop file but I really don't like to use it any longer than it takes for me to show it to a new friend," said River, a wizard. "It is a little disturbing to sit here at home and see myself speaking in cartoon balloons in a non-reality. Whew!!!!"

When users do present pictures of their real faces, it may be a gesture of honesty and/or intimacy - a sign of friendship, or even romance. Showing one's real face av can be a very poignant experience. Several members have described to me encounters when an intimate conversation culminated in their companion showing a picture of themselves. "That moment will stay with me for a long time to come," one member stated, "The value I placed on that particular moment was, friendship, trust, a sense of oneness." This same member described how there seems to be a pattern when an entire group feels compelled to use their real faces - what he called "face nite." For that period of time, the intimacy and friendship level reaches a point where people wish to step out of their masks and out of their anonymity. They want be as "real" as possible.


Idiosyncratic Avatars
These avatars become strongly associated with a specific member - almost as if it is that person's trademark. In some cases the avatar may be highly unusual or creative. Sometimes it is quite simple. Yet its association to the particular user is so strong that others experience it uniquely as that person. While trading props is a common practice, the owner of an idiosyncratic av rarely gives it away. It would be like giving one's identity to someone else to use. Conscientious members also don't "steal" (i.e., screen capture) an idiosyncratic av and use it as their own. They respect its integrity. If someone does steal and attempts to wear an idio av, they must be willing to put up with criticism by the friends of the owner.



Power Avatars
Power avatars are symbols of... well... power. Many, if not all, people have conscious or unconscious fantasies of omnipotence. Who wouldn't want strength and invulnerability? These types of avs seem to be most common among male adolescent users. In some cases the power theme is benign. Sometimes not, which may be a variation of the "evil" avatar. Because competition invariably accompanies displays of power, members seem to vie with each other in creating the most "awesome" power av. This competition is probably more common among the adolescent users. Members who persistantly display power avs may be troubled by underlying feelings of helplessness and insecurity.

Seductive Avatars
Female seductive avatars tend to be more common than male - although these female avs sometimes are "manned" by male users (see "Male Gender-Switching in Cyberspace") . In fact, the general impression among members is that males are more likely to prop up as females, especially seductive females, than women dressing up as males.

Members usually wear seductive avs to draw attention to themselves. This works very well. Male users, especially guests, quickly flock to a sexy female form. The owner may be interested in harmless flirting, or (less frequently) be advertising his or her availability for cybersex. I heard one story about someone's office friend who, when frustrated on the job, says "I need a Palace break" He then signs onto the Palace dressed as a sexy female and lures guys into bedrooms. Being sexy not only gets you attention. It also gives you power and control over others.

Some people wearing seductive avs wish to be admired as an attractive, sexy individual, without necessarily being interested in flirting or cybersex. "I have some very sexy stuff given to me by friends (all men!)," said one female member. "What do they say about me? Not quite sure, except that I would love to be younger and more beautiful and some of my avatars are that indeed."

A seductive, sexy, or simply "attractive" avatar can have a powerful impact on other members. Other members may display seductive avs simply to be admired for their skill in knowing how to create a seductive av. Because the Palace often feels like an ongoing party where people are going to flirt, playfully compete, vie for attention, and strut their stuff, it is almost a prerequisite that every experienced member owns a seductive av of some type. "Getting away with something" is an intrinsic component of the Palace culture, as Bumgardner intended. Having at least one seductive av is a cultural must.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. As one member said, "I don't really think that sexy type props are for me, just wouldn't be a true representation of what I'm about."

Other Avatars

Whenever we social scientists go about categorizing things, we always end up with a miscellaneous or "other" category. There is such a wide variety of avatars that it's impossible to neatly classify them all. The same is true of personality styles (which is the origin of the prop). Here let me briefly mention just a few other types of avatars.


Odd/shocking avatars are unusual, strange, and sometimes downright bizarre pictures - perhaps revealing people who like to surprise, goof on, or even startle and outrage others. Truly bizarre pictures might make you wonder about the person's grasp of social appropriateness, or even their mental health. Such very unusual avs are most popular among adolescents - for whom extreme behavior is a way to express independence and individuality, and to test the limits.
Abstract avatars may be used by people who enjoy enjoy symmetry, are good (non-verbal) conceptual thinkers, and/or are inclined towards visual artistic endeavors.

Billboard avatars are announcements of some sort - political, philosophical, personal. They are used by those who have something to say and are not reluctant to display their thoughts in a commercialized type format.

Lifestyle avatars, which are quite common and varied, depict some significant aspect of a person's life - usually something to do with occupation, hobby, or personal habit. It may be a way to attract like-minded individuals.

Matching avatars are designed to accompany each other and indicate the connection or bonding between the pair of members. Considerable imaginative and technical skills may go into creating such avatars.

Clan avatars - are worn by members of the same social group, some might even say "gang." These avs tend to be similar in basic design with slight variations to differentiate each one from the others. As such, each user announces his/her allegiance to the clan by adopting its collective visual appearance, while also maintaining some measure of individuality. It reminds me of the songs in some bird species. The species identifies itself and its members by a basic template that serves as the collective song. Yet each individual bird adds a small unique variation to that template in order to signify its individuality. Clan avs are found almost exclusively among adolescents for whom belonging to a peer group - and conforming to its standards - is a developmental hallmark.

Animated avatars contain motion, such as an eye tearing, a bird flying, or a flag waving. By visually diplaying "behavior" they can express a wide and subtle range of psychological meaning. Tapping a finger, blinking one's eyes, banging one's head against the wall - there are infinite expressive possibilties. The motion usually is cyclical and repetitious, which - depending on the type of avatar - may convey a feeling of persistance, determination, mindlessness, or rhythmic peacefulness.





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Lillie Frog
Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales
Member Since: 31st May 2004
Total posts: 558
Posted:Oh cool, I'm not subconciously evil. biggrin

Oli, I don't know what yours is, so you are obviously secretive, mysterious and original.


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road


Astar
member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.
Member Since: 8th Nov 2002
Total posts: 1591
Posted:oli a psychotic pot head (or maybe im psychotic for seeing some sort of snail monster in it with giant pincers)


Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:Mine was the one suggested for me when the bb first allowed avatars because of the name of my no-longer-on-here counterpart Pele's Whipping Boy.
I have no idea who she is.
I am ...
1. A tech-idiot
and
2. Too lazy to care to change it

So whatever anyone surmises from my avatar..It's not true I tell ya! Not True!
Except..well..maybe if you picked up on that whole Dom tendency of mine wink
shhhhhh


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK


wingrd
wingrd

Member
Location: Northampton,UK
Member Since: 11th Oct 2004
Total posts: 18
Posted:Well I've only just join and adding one was touch and go, but I didn't want to be boring so got the best fitting photo I had and resized it. (hope you like it)
I thought it would reflect my personality but after reading this I don't thing anyone will see the meaning of it. Thinking about it I should change it to something more obvious. Two candles, now I look at it objectively, just looks like... Well... Two candles.
Good photo mind!


D


wingrd
wingrd

Member
Location: Northampton,UK
Member Since: 11th Oct 2004
Total posts: 18
Posted:Oil - your love lifes complicities and thrive in changing environment, you like intelligent and beautiful people with a good sense of humour and you're probably a mechanic.

D


Lillie Frog
Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales
Member Since: 31st May 2004
Total posts: 558
Posted:Oli!
Yours is smoke!
I just figured it out from what Astar said, and then I could see it. Sorry, my eyes arn't so good.

But now I know what it is I stand by what I said.
On a board where every one has fire, you have smoke. That's original!


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road


Mark P
Mark P

old hand
Location: Bath, England
Member Since: 26th Oct 2001
Total posts: 1031
Posted:mine I drew by hand and got it printed on the back of a t-shirt as I really want it on my back as a tattoo.

ado-p is to thank for making it reality that it is my avatar as he shrunk the sixe from my gallery pic smile (thanks)

Big Love

M xx



wingrd
wingrd

Member
Location: Northampton,UK
Member Since: 11th Oct 2004
Total posts: 18
Posted:I see it too! Boy I hate being dyslexic; wit goes strait at the window when you read things wrong.

D


oli
not with cactus
Location: bristol/ southern eastern devo...
Member Since: 24th Jul 2003
Total posts: 2052
Posted:its not smoke... or a snail...its nothing. its a pinhole photo gone 'wrong'. its whatever you want it to be, wingrd.. thats scarily accurate, except im not a mechanic at the moment.

i do like snails.


Me train running low on soul coal
They push+pull tactics are driving me loco
They shouldn't do that no no no


fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:So people don't forget me...........

Geologists do it in the dirt................ spank


fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:Written by:
When users do present pictures of their real faces, it may be a gesture of honesty and/or intimacy - a sign of friendship, or even romance



or it might be that - biggrin


Geologists do it in the dirt................ spank


Puk
Puk

Sweet talented nutter
Location: Brisbane Oz
Member Since: 3rd Aug 2002
Total posts: 2615
Posted:I've been bugging Mech for one from the pictures the took

that shrewd and knavish sprite

Called Robin Good Fellow ; are you not he that is frighten of the maidens of the villagery - fairy

I am the merry wander of the night -puk


Bugis
Bugis

have fur, will huggle
Location: table in front of the pc.
Member Since: 22nd May 2004
Total posts: 231
Posted:I think my avater says that i am furry.

I have my sidekick now. I think I call him Sidekick!!

"Lets get Jinky with it!"


Konsti
Konsti

lovable smart-ass
Location: vineyards, Vienna, Austria
Member Since: 16th Oct 2003
Total posts: 785
Posted:hey there.
do you guys think that my avatar looks evil or not?
ive got it from a local jungle dj in vienna, hes calling himself spaceant and that pic is his logo....


"is optimism in austria just a lack of information?"
-Alfred Dorfer


Rouge Dragon
Rouge Dragon

Insert Champagne Here
Location: without class distinction
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 13215
Posted:nope Konsti, I don't think i was evil. Reminds me of a strange bug tho.

Well, as a cartoon avatar person, I am childish and I admire and identify with Belle....Yep! sounds right to me! So where is my prince dressed up as a beast!?


i would have changed ***** to phallus, and claire to petey Petey

Rougie: but that's what I'm doing here
Arnwyn: what letting me adjust myself in your room?..don't you dare quote that on HoP...


mech
mech

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: "In your ear"
Member Since: 9th Jun 2003
Total posts: 6207
Posted:without trying to sound tooooo selfobsessed

my avs, is a cartoon form of me, it was deigned from a basic model from stor troopers, the site is well gone now, it has gone through a couple fo changes over the yrs, but mainly it has stayed the same, its the same pair of shor baggies i wear oftenm and an old trade make shirt i used to wear that says step on teh back

i dont truly fit into any of teh catogaories, easily with my avs, so what i ask, is how do i describe myslef through my avs?

its not a real face, nor is ut a moving one, nor a real one!?!


Step (el-nombrie)


polythene
veteran
Location: London/ Surrey
Member Since: 15th May 2003
Total posts: 1359
Posted:Not if you see it the way I do Konsti... I always thought that the mandibles look more like he's poking his tongue out, at which point he becomes cute smile

The optimist claims that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.
The pessimist fears this is true.

Always make time to play in the snow.


Tao Star
Tao Star

Pooh-Bah
Location: Bristol
Member Since: 30th May 2003
Total posts: 1662
Posted:konsti's reminds me of the bunny from Donnie Darko - or maybe that's just me.

I had a dream that my friend had a
strong-bad pop up book,
it was the book of my dreams.


Rouge Dragon
Rouge Dragon

Insert Champagne Here
Location: without class distinction
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 13215
Posted:No. It's not just you. Now that you mention it, I can see the donnie darko rabbit too.

i would have changed ***** to phallus, and claire to petey Petey

Rougie: but that's what I'm doing here
Arnwyn: what letting me adjust myself in your room?..don't you dare quote that on HoP...


Konsti
Konsti

lovable smart-ass
Location: vineyards, Vienna, Austria
Member Since: 16th Oct 2003
Total posts: 785
Posted:but its an ant, for chrissake
and a spaceant as well
http://www.runchcomics.at/wicked/pics/1_174_476.jpg


he plays the wicked night:
http://www.runchcomics.at/wicked/pics/1_690_478.jpg


at flex
http://www.runchcomics.at/wicked/pics/1_528_965.jpg


"is optimism in austria just a lack of information?"
-Alfred Dorfer


Rouge Dragon
Rouge Dragon

Insert Champagne Here
Location: without class distinction
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 13215
Posted:Well I did initially say "strange bug" lol! I'm half right!

i would have changed ***** to phallus, and claire to petey Petey

Rougie: but that's what I'm doing here
Arnwyn: what letting me adjust myself in your room?..don't you dare quote that on HoP...


Lillie Frog
Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales
Member Since: 31st May 2004
Total posts: 558
Posted:Written by: Bugis

I think my avater says that i am furry.



And it displays your feet very nicely.
ubbrollsmile


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road


Man_in_the_mask
specializes in the potentially insane
Location: California
Member Since: 21st Aug 2012
Total posts: 130
Posted:awesome. nobody shall assume anything of my thought process or personality due to the simple fact that ive not uploaded an avatar. . .
idk why, i simply dont like it too much when someone is capable of defining who you are mentally/socially. room-mate did that too me in the space of an hour
lol he no longer makes any attempt to psychoanalyze me >=D


"We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin..."


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