“About a year ago in my first visit to Second Life, the popular online virtual world, I spent half an hour trying to make my avatar, or online character, look like a hotter version of myself — which isn’t easy when you don’t know how to use the tools. When I finally made it onto Money Island to mingle, a stranger approached me and said, “Hello there, Devon.” I froze. Then I tried to run. I was desperately searching for the teleport tool when my sister walked into the room, peered over my shoulder at the computer screen and said, “Why’d you make your avatar ugly?” I logged off…I didn’t realize how instructive my sister’s question was until recently, when I discovered research being done at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL). Jeremy Bailenson, head of the lab and an assistant professor of communication at Stanford, studies the way self-perception affects behavior. No surprise that what we think about ourselves affects the confidence with which we approach the world. What is a surprise is that this applies in the virtual world too…” Read rest of article.