The Role of Video Games in Self-Objectification: Does That Avatar Become You, Too?
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Research suggests that virtual environments present revealing and unrealistic representations of males and females; however, the effect of exposure to virtual worlds remains understudied. Objectification theory and social learning theory suggest that exposure to these images may impact one’s view of their own body, and in turn, result in maladaptive beliefs and behaviors to obtain these unrealistic ideals. The current study sought to examine the effects of exposure to modest and revealing video game avatars on adolescents’ reported state self-objectification, body image, negative affect, food consumption, and task performance. Further, empathy, self-objectification, and immersion were examined as potential mediators and moderators of this relationship. A total of 213 male and female adolescents residing in a southeast town in Texas completed the current study. Results suggested that exposure to same- or opposite-gendered, exposed avatars resulted in higher levels of state self-objectification for both males and female adolescents. Further, females reported greater negative affect following exposure to these image when compared to males. However, no support was garnered for exposed images affecting body image, negative affect, food consumption, and task performance. Further, empathy, immersion, and self-objectification did not mediate or moderate this relationship. Implications for prevention and treatment for male and female adolescents exposed to revealing avatars are discussed, as this may lead to negative perceptions about the self and negative affect.
Lange, Krista Leigh (2016). The Role of Video Games in Self-Objectification: Does That Avatar Become You, Too?. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from