More communication among individuals is occurring online, and often between individuals who do not know each other offline. Researchers at York University are looking to understand the potential impressions and their limitations of those we meet in a digital context. In a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the researchers specifically looked at what personality traits are conveyed by a user’s avatar.
…Avatars with open eyes, a smile or grin, an oval face, brown hair and/or a sweater were more likely to elicit friendship intentions. In contrast, avatars with a neutral expression, or any other expression other than a smile, black hair, short hair, a hat, and/or sunglasses were less likely to elicit friendship intentions.
Two cues were specifically related to creator agreeableness and friendship intentions–open eyes and a neutral expression (a negative predictor). Based on the results, customizing an avatar to have open eyes and avoiding a neutral expression would be more likely to elicit agreeableness and friendship intentions…
So cat avatars likely don’t cut make the cut.
I won’t even ponder how a psychologist might interpret Mamba’s Vegemite avatar. But we are past trying to impress people.