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Thread: Avatar Personification / Reverse Perception

  1. #1

    Default Avatar Personification / Reverse Perception

    I recently found this blog on Analysis of a Personal Avatar and found it interesting.

    http://users.rider.edu/~suler/psycyb...ollection.html

    The topic is of the intended perception but I am curious in the reverse-perception. The perception of the reader on the other end.

    As we have browsed, discussed, argued, and been perplexed, offended or amused by other users here we undoubtedly form an image in our minds of who we are interacting with.

    My curiosity in it lies in the fact that I have discovered that I do use avatars to form mental pictures of other users and in most cases picture them as their avatar. It's of course a rediculous notion but I am interested in the Psychology behind it.

    My questions are: Does the avatar play a significant role in forming a mental image of an anonymous user?

    Does it play out in the same realm as story-telling? Do we use our imaginations to add a visual image to our perceptions of the person behind the avatar?

    Are there some who do not use the visual of an avatar and come up with a visual perception based on other elements?

  2. #2

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    Generally ones visual representation of one self does play a significant role in the fact that
    in the world of the internet most of the users do not physically know each other and these visual representations allows
    to put face to that which has none but a simple sentence that appears to respond to what we ask.

    Generally one can start forming a mental image of the anon they are talking to due to experience of interactions with the anon and the visual representation they use to represent themselves. Its easier to see what they would like or would possibly look and act with their choice of avatar because it does show a side to the person in terms of what they are culture wise, and no not just culture in terms of race. It gives us a general idea of what might have influenced our anon friend and allows us to approach them with a image in mind. Generally when I find someone who uses a avatar like a Pony for example, I don't actually imagine a talking and typing pony on the other end but I use that to gather info on what the other person might look like, so in a sense it does have a story-telling aspect to it.

    I know with my own avatars there is always a repeating theme. They generally all look alike, similar long hairstyle, skinny frame and a bit of a shy look. Generally i use these to show people how I actually look like cause I find it easier to just use something similar to my true appearance than something like "Fan of <----->" cause I'm a bit more closed about revealing everything unless I get to know you but even then it gives a general idea about who I am. With no visual aid people would have to go off what they know off the person purely off text or voice which in terms could give a similar image if the anon used a visual to represent themselves. On forums I find it rare for people who generally make themselves known and actually gain a image to not use a avatar but in rare cases there are some who do and all that is used is generally what people know about them to make some kind of image.

    So yes the avatar does play a big role in sculpting the face behind the anon, well at least in my opinion.
    A quick visual image can tell you so much about a person, add that with communication and you pretty much
    have some kind of face in your mind that says "This is <insert name here>"

    Also Link Isnt Working
    Last edited by Noodle; 09-May-2013 at 11:27. Reason: <Sorry for Blocky Text>

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilostthesheriff View Post
    Does it play out in the same realm as story-telling? Do we use our imaginations to add a visual image to our perceptions of the person behind the avatar?
    i think it does for everyone, in varying degrees, and not just limited to 'avatars'. i do it with songs or written works and i usually relate it to what/whom i already know.
    like, how many times have you finally got to see what a singer looks like, only for them not to fit what you had imagined [from how they sounded]? Mama Cass is a good example of that.

    and with general storylines, i tend to apply those i know in real-life to the characters in the story.
    otherwise, it'd all be a bland tedium of non-descript, barely worth remembering, making up the numbers, faceless names; which brings me ever so neatly to online presences, for that is how i feel about the vast bulk of presences:

    with the avatar, as an attempt to represent the person, i find them mostly to be full of pretence, fakery and with the fleetness and disposability as would befit such. as such, it's hard to give them any thoughtfulness beyond the fleeting.

    but, you know, it's not so different from real-life. most people try to dress themselves up as something they aren't. even the great revolution in 'individualism' (itself manifested as avatars) is just exploitation of people's sheeplike inanity.

    btw, the link worked for me

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilostthesheriff View Post
    My questions are: Does the avatar play a significant role in forming a mental image of an anonymous user?

    Does it play out in the same realm as story-telling? Do we use our imaginations to add a visual image to our perceptions of the person behind the avatar?

    Are there some who do not use the visual of an avatar and come up with a visual perception based on other elements?
    Significant role? well to some part yes.... and it highly depends on the avatar.
    Especially here on an abdl related forum, to me seeing "crotch-shots" (even if just drawn") tends to SAY A LOT about the person behind the avatar.
    I find the notion / idea "gross" that someone wants to present his private parts and/or wet/messy diaper to the public... actually repulsive.
    It doesn't matter to me if it's an actual photograph or just a drawing - it's the concept / the idea that someone is willing to use that kind of an image/drawing to REPRESENT him/herself (although arguably it tends to be more of a male thing) on a Forum...
    So yes, in this my first impression of such a person is highly influenced by the choice of avatar.

    That aside, it goes for other motives as well - but the outcome can be different...
    if I see a cool, cute, funny, etc avatar I'm more positively inclined - but it's highly subjective of course.

    Then comes what the person WRITES - and the Attitude shown in the writing... that has even more of an influence though.

    story telling? partially - in as much as that I think that the avatar was chosen with the intent by the person to represent themselves... so it's a bit like descriptive story telling for fictional characters.
    I'm though well aware, that it's often a "want to be like this" avatar-character/person relationship.

  5. #5

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    It does play a significant role for me for trying to form an image of the person behind the screen, so yes.

    But it's just a little part, since there's a lot more. Especially what and how any person may say over time. I think it gives a great impression in general.
    However I think, I'm counting the weight of the avatar a little bit too much, but I can't help it... I'm always curious why a person choose this one... except crotch shots. In this case I simply don't want to.

    The biggest question for me always is... the purpose for using this specific avatar, specially if it's rather unique. Is he/she this way? Does he want to be that way, or is he simply thinking he's that way, or may it just be at random.... And this is kinda hard to guess.

    At first, I mostly tend to think it's how someone may see oneself and in the end is at least more or less.
    As example, from your stormtrooper pic. Which comes to my mind is not the fact, that stormtroopers never hit a target, but that they are kind of serious, like military. They follow strict rules and this one especially is holding his head up. So he is proud.
    In conclusion with the adisc print and the words sustainable & congruity it gives me the impression of a strong individual, but someone which beliefs in a greater thing and is willing to follow.
    Although I can't wrap my head around the adisc print, maybe that this place plays a significant role and it will endure?... just brainstorming right now.

    Anyway, I know... silly, but I can't help it.

    In the end, I think, this thoughts come to my mind, since I'm simply choosing always a picture, with which I'm trying to say something; telling emotions. This is what any picture or art in general is for me basically, trying to tell something... an emotion, a thought, a story.

  6. #6

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    Oh, fun fun fun!
    Getting to analyze my own thought process!

    Well, first things first, the choice of the avatar can tell me something about the interests of the user behind it, at least on grounds of common knowledge. Let me explain this:


    By looking at the avatar's in this tread so far, I can tell we have at least one star wars fan and one soul eater fan (ilostthesheriff and daLira).
    This, in turn, also tells me we have something in common. Simply because of the fact that I recognize the avatars as depicting characters from these film series and anime, I know that we share at least some knowledge on the subject, and maybe even interests.


    Next, the choice of character can give me an indication about the personality. Going back to daLina, for an example, I happen to know that one of the characters has a very closed off personality and that the other tried to be a friend despite this being closed off. This tells me that friendship and being there for each other can play a big part in the life of the user.
    Iíll stop digging through your psyche now, daLira .


    Taking a look at ade here, he uses a totally unrecognizable (at least to me, it can just be a reference I don't understand because I don't know what is being referred too) silhouette of a human face for his avatar. This can tell me two things: this user wants to be anonymous, but because he did take the effort to put up a none-blank avatar, he does want to give a personal touch.


    But if we take Noodle (yes, you're next), I see a customized avatar, in this case with the diaper theme. This also tells me a few things: he is either artistically gifted or has connections to someone who has them which he trusts the knowledge of him having a diaper interest with.
    He also has a big enough interest in diapers and this/other forums that he takes the time and effort to make/commission a custom avatar.
    Then, due to the fact that the avatar has a lack of super distinguishable features (different colored, spiky hair etc.), I find it safe to assume it is not a pop-culture reference.
    This tells me the character is based on one of two things: real, personal appearance, or a mental self-image/personal fantasy character.
    Now I know this last part is kind of cheating, because he already mentioned it has resemblance to his actual looks, but it is still the train of thought I follow.


    But this reading into avatar's can also be very misleading. Taking mine, for an example. The guy, captioned wild dog, has a threatening demeanor. This is not surprising, as he is actually the only reoccurring antagonist in the Time Crisis video game series. But the fact that he is a villain is not why I chose him.
    Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom takes me with her on a camping holyday in France. In the small town where we are close by, there is an arcade on the boulevard close to the beach. In that arcade, my favorite game has always been a Time Crisis arcade. then, when I became more active in online computer gaming and needed a username that was cool, not something stupid like XxXSniperProXxX, but which still had a personal touch, I thought back at this arcade and this character with a cool look and name.
    Main point here being: while there always is a story behind the choice of avatar which tells a lot about the user, it does not have to be an easily deducted one. But this easily deducted story does play a significant role in the forming of a personality behind the avatar.



    Now analyzing these analyses of the avatars (we need to go deeper!), I can conclude this:
    The choice of avatar has a very big effect on how I picture the user to be. It can tell me a number of different things about the person, but there always is the danger that my assumptions are wrong, simply because I don't know the full story. The posts/conversations that the user posts, usually don't tell me more than if the person has English as his first language/if he cares about/know about proper spelling and grammar.

    I will say I make a number of mistakes on this part, both due to the fact that English is not my first language and I am dyslectic.
    Hey! There is some personal information you can find in the writing style!

    Of course, the actual content can also tell me something about the personality, but I have to say that the choice of avatar has a bigger impact.


    Welp, I think this about concludes my long (and hopefully coherent) post about my view of avatars. Now let's throw this sucker through a spell check and throw it to the interwebs. (Dam those were a lot of spelling errors)


    Edit: apologies for the necro-post, I got redirected from a different tread and replied before I saw the last post was one week old.
    Last edited by wilddog; 20-May-2013 at 01:02.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by wilddog View Post
    Taking a look at ade here, he uses a totally unrecognizable (at least to me, it can just be a reference I don't understand because I don't know what is being referred too) silhouette of a human face for his avatar. This can tell me two things: this user wants to be anonymous, but because he did take the effort to put up a none-blank avatar, he does want to give a personal touch.
    hmm, not bad.
    it's actually my shadow. the story behind it is pretty boring, though it's probably also insightful: photographed at work, after work was done, i just happened to notice my shadow cast upon the doorway cladding and it reminded me of the Peter Pan shadow scene. all things considered (and probably more so at the time than now), it seemed the best way of showing me without showing me.

  8. #8

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    Something I've noticed about myself is that regardless of the content of the avatar, I tend to have an immediate negative perception of users with avatars that are very pixelated and grainy. I'm not sure why that is; image quality is in no way indicative of character quality, so it's rather silly of me.

  9. #9

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    Not going to lie here, I will sometimes judge people off their avatars. You can actually tell a lot about a person from just that simple little picture. Same goes with anything in everyday life though. Take a look at someones car or clothing options and tell what kind of person they are. Example would be my car, I have a furry sticker, anti-obama, red wings logo, and an assassins creed logo. From this you can easily tell that I am most likely a Male, like hockey, play video games, am a Republican, and of course am a Furry.

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