Modern Cosmism Conference

Jay Friedenberg

 

 Avatars and Virtual Worlds: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

 

Recent research on the psychology of avatars shows that identification with an avatar influences real world behavior in both positive and negative ways. This behavior is analyzed in terms of the Humanist notion of the real and ideal self, the newly discovered Proteus Effect and social learning theory. The results of several studies have shown that avatars can motivate weight loss and prevent unwanted behaviors like smoking.

However, under certain conditions they can also lead to an increase in aggression and the adoption of negative stereotypes. The Eterni.me and Terasem projects are both attempts to create avatars that can represent us and interact with others after we die and represent the future of avatar development. Future virtual worlds have the potential to become highly addictive because they will be much more immersive and rewarding. This seems especially true given the current problems found with Internet Addictive Disorder.

The symptoms, rewards and treatment of IAD as well as its controversial nature are next discussed. However, there is also immense potential benefit for video games and immersive VR.  Some of these benefits include the treatment of phobias, the slowing of cognitive decline, new educational tools, and the solving of complex world problems.

 

     
     
     
   

 

     
     

 

 

 

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