Women reveal more skin in the virtual world

Irrespective of regular measures of physical attractiveness, women's avatars in Second Life expose more skin

3d avatar of a woman
Women in a 3D avatar tend to show more skin than their male counterparts

In the virtual world of Second Life, female avatars expose much more skin as compared to male avatars as per research published in PLOS ONE journal. The study by Matthieu Guitton and colleagues from Laval University, Canada also finds that the skin revealed does not depend on the body proportions as it does in the real world.

Our natural inclination to cover up is due to climatic, environmental, physical and cultural constraints… as a result, measuring someones propensity to reveal skin independent of these constraints can be difficult in the real world. To examine human behaviour rid of at least some of these constraints, the researchers studied how male and female avatars in the virtual, 3-dimensional world of Second Life dressed. On Second Life, individuals can choose gender, appearance and attire of their virtual avatars. And, they can select clothing from several options created in this virtual world, rather than being restricted to any predefined costume regulations.

They found that out of over 400 virtual people studied, 71% of male avatars covered between their skin completely while only 5% of females did [75-100% of skin covered]. In contrast, among those who covered 25-49% of skin, 47% were women compared to only 9% of by men. The amount of skin covered was independent of traditional gender-specific measures of physical attractiveness for virtual avatars, such as waist-chest ratios for females. According to the study, These findings have implications for understanding how gender-specific aspects of skin disclosure can affect our human social interactions in both virtual and real settings.”

Guitton adds, “Virtual settings provide a unique tool to study human behavior unhindered by physical and environmental constraints.This tool enabled us to find a dramatic gender difference in the propensity to disclose naked skin.”



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