The characters that video game users choose for themselves - their avatars - can affect their thoughts and emotions in those virtual environments, whether it's Mario or Luigi or the colors of a football uniform, according to research by a University of Texas communication studies professor.
In two similar experiments, assistant professor Jorge Peña found that gamers using negative avatars - such as those wearing black cloaks - exhibited aggressive and antisocial behaviors in team exercises. The study, "The Priming Effects of Avatars in Virtual Settings," will be published in the December issue of Communication Research, a national publication.
The first experiment randomly assigned either black- or white-robed avatars to gamers playing "Jedi Knight II." The second experiment assigned gamers roles as Ku Klux Klan members or physicians in a virtual museum. The control group was assigned transparent figures.