A group of researchers at York University is looking at what online avatars reveal about the personality of the people who choose them.
Katrina Fong, lead researcher at the university, said that avatars let people express or suppress different physical or psychological traits in cyberspace.
And, she said, previous research has shown that people choose avatars which they think as similar to themselves.
The study involved participants creating avatars on their own and then a different set of people looked and rated avatars on five traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
Some of the results are extremely unsurprising. Avatars that had open eyes, a grin, an oval face and a sweater indicated friendship. Those wearing sunglasses and a neutral expression weren’t considered to be very agreeable.
Fong claimed the study showed that avatars offered accurate information about a person’s nature.