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Hiding or Priding? A Study of Gender, Race, and Gamer Status and Context on Avatar Selection
Unformatted Document Text:  GENDER, RACE, GAMING, AND AVATAR SELECTION 18 Schwartz et al. suggested skin tone might be an important factor to study with regard to race and ethnicity. One feature most avatar selection tools offer is skin tone, which can be altered in most virtual environments to mirror that of real-life minority skin tones (Vasalou et al., 2008). Such a feature adds an even further complexity to the issues of race, ethnicity, and online identity, given that there is so much history of within-group prejudices involving skin tone documented among minorities. Particularly among African-Americans, lighter skin tones are perceived as more desirable than darker skin tones (Blair, Judd, Sadler, & Jenkins, 2002; Maddox, 2004). Averhart and Bigler (1997) found that even African-American children show preferences for lighter skin tones and found that children who had rated themselves as having lighter skin tones on a Likert scale were more likely to hold biases regarding skin tone. The researchers explained the finding in terms of stereotypical beliefs that view people with lighter skin tones more positively than those with darker skin tones. Additional research has shown that this preference for lighter skin tones is common in Hispanic/Latino communities and both the Asian and Asian-Indian communities (Espino & Franz, 2002; Tummala-Narra, 2007). Few, if any studies, have investigated the link between the skin tone of a person and the skin tone they select for their own avatar. It is possible that people possessing lighter skin tones desire darker skin tones, as in a desire for tan skin, which has cropped up in avatar selection (Vasalou et al., 2008). Therefore, it would seem plausible that people who are paler will opt for tanner avatars if given the chance. However, given the discussions above, minorities may opt for lighter-skinned avatars. Thus, two hypotheses are posed. H4a: White participants will choose avatars with darker skin tones than themselves.

Authors: Dunn, Robert. and Guadagno, Rosanna.
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GENDER, RACE, GAMING, AND AVATAR SELECTION                                                     18
Schwartz et al. suggested skin tone might be an important factor to study with regard to race and 
One feature most avatar selection tools offer is skin tone, which can be altered in most 
virtual environments to mirror that of real-life minority skin tones (Vasalou et al., 2008). Such a 
feature adds an even further complexity to the issues of race, ethnicity, and online identity, given 
that there is so much history of within-group prejudices involving skin tone documented among 
minorities. Particularly among African-Americans, lighter skin tones are perceived as more 
desirable than darker skin tones (Blair, Judd, Sadler, & Jenkins, 2002; Maddox, 2004). Averhart 
and Bigler (1997) found that even African-American children show preferences for lighter skin 
tones and found that children who had rated themselves as having lighter skin tones on a Likert 
scale were more likely to hold biases regarding skin tone. The researchers explained the finding 
in terms of stereotypical beliefs that view people with lighter skin tones more positively than 
those with darker skin tones. 
Additional research has shown that this preference for lighter skin tones is common in 
Hispanic/Latino communities and both the Asian and Asian-Indian communities (Espino & 
Franz, 2002; Tummala-Narra, 2007). Few, if any studies, have investigated the link between the 
skin tone of a person and the skin tone they select for their own avatar. It is possible that people 
possessing lighter skin tones desire darker skin tones, as in a desire for tan skin, which has 
cropped up in avatar selection (Vasalou et al., 2008). Therefore, it would seem plausible that 
people who are paler will opt for tanner avatars if given the chance. However, given the 
discussions above, minorities may opt for lighter-skinned avatars. Thus, two hypotheses are 
H4a: White participants will choose avatars with darker skin tones than themselves.

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