Taken together, it seems that, despite the unique online characteristics of avatars, some offline conventions regarding attractiveness and status (e.g., height) may carry over to the online world. Cultural differences and switching of in-group sharing behavior between an American (Facebook) and a Chinese (Renren) social networking site. According to evolutionary psychological theory, physical features, such as symmetry, have become cultural cues of attractiveness, because they are signs of reproductive and genetic health (Buss, 1989; Jones et al., 2001; Perrett et al., 1998; Singh, 2006; Thornhill & Gangestad, 2006; Waynforth, 2001). Children and adults use attractiveness as a social cue in real people and avatars. Avatars are not unique to SL and are found in a variety of online contexts, and we draw on research from these different contexts to describe two possible connections between residents and their avatars. On the one hand, it has been suggested that, because avatars are physically separate from the body, users may create online representations that do not mirror their offline selves; instead, they choose socially idealized or alternate versions of the self (Gilbert et al., 2014; Huh & Williams, 2010; Kendall, 1998; Smahel, Blinka, & Ledabyl, 2008). Universal allure of the hourglass figure: an evolutionary theory of female physical attractiveness.
Evaluations of physical appearance and attractiveness play an important role in our offline lives including in social interactions.
At the same time, there appears to be some parallels between online and offline spaces.
Research suggests that, although users are somewhat psychologically separated from their online selves and do conform to some online norms, most do not appear to be creating a completely different second self online (Linares et al., 2011).
Many offline social behaviors and expectations, such as interpersonal distance conventions, altruism, and attractiveness stereotypes transfer into virtual environments (Behm-Morawitz, 2013; Khan & De Angeli, 2009; Merola & Pena, 2009; Principe & Langlois, 2013; Yee, Bailenson, Urbanek, Chang, & Merget, 2007).
Offline beliefs and standards of attractiveness may also be applied to online representations of the self in the form of avatars.
Physically attractive individuals are often judged to be more socially skilled, popular, and evaluated positively by others (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991; Feingold, 1992; Langlois et al., 2000).