Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You can help investigate human and avatar personality by taking brief test

Many active Second Life users experience their avatar and human expressions as distinct beings with unique and even contradictory personality qualities. For instance, a human may be shy and modest while the associated avatar is the flirtatious life of a party.

To look more closely at this phenomenon, I thought it would be interesting to do some informal investigation together by using a standard personality test to measure differences between participants' human and avatar personality traits.

Here's how you can participate (if you experience your avatar and human personas as distinct personalities):
  • Take the short psychological test at the other end of this link two times, once in your human persona and once as your avatar. It is a short version of an instrument based on the Five Factor Model of personality and should take no more than ten minutes to complete.
  • When you're done with both, send the scores to me (using one of the three options below) and I'll aggregate everyone's data. All identifying information will be held in strict confidence. If you're are willing, also include the age of the avatar identity and how many hours a week he or she is in-world. With enough results, we may gain some insight into the depth of the personality variances between human and avatar identities.
  • For each identity include the percentile ranking for Extroversion, Accommodation, Orderliness, Emotional Stability and Inquisitiveness. Here's an example of the scores, and the format to send:
Human Identity
Extroversion 56%
Orderliness 65%
Emotional Stability 63%
Accommodation 76%
Inquisitiveness 72%

Avatar Identity
Extroversion 86%
Orderliness 66%
Emotional Stability 84%
Accommodation 58%
Inquisitiveness 90%

Choose one of these three methods to send in your results:
  • Send them to me in Second Life either via notecard or IM (Botgirl Questi)
  • Email results to me at botgirlq at gmail dot com.
  • If you want to share your scores with blog viewers, simple add them in the comments section of this post.
If this project is interesting to you, please help me get the word out via a link from your blog, a twitter post, etc. I'll report the results here including a spreadsheet with all of the data (stripped of identifying information.)


IYan Writer said...

I have a problem with such "tests" - and especially with the results they are supposed to show.

I have no distinct avatar personality - for me, SL is a medium, like the phone. Whether you dial or IM, you always get Jan.

I was surprised to learn that some users claim different test results for their personas and their RL counterparts, so I decided on a test. I solved a Meyers-Briggs test as *me* (and got ETNJ as usual), then put myself into a needy and insecure frame of mind, took the test again, selecting answers that fitted with the frame of mind, and got completely different results.

So what exactly does your proposed test prove? Different personalities or simply the ability of people to deceive, consciously or unconsciously?

IYan Writer said...

.. or it simply shows different facets of our personality - we can be both extroverted and introverted, depending on the occasion. So perhaps instead of obsessing over the result (different test results and what it tells us about people), we should be really looking at the cause: virtual worlds and their apparent ability to make us more extroverted and communicative.

So, I take it back; I would be very interested in the results of your survey, especially if such patterns emerge. Perhaps we can isolate some of the qualities of virtual worlds and apply them in real life?

Forelle Broek said...

The popular MBTI ("Meyers-Briggs") and its kindred "personality" tests are of highly questionable reliability and validity. In simple terms, this means that there is not much consistency in the results, and that the tests do not really measure what they purport to measure.

Though many people report getting the same results each time they take the MBTI, this is more likely an artifact of test-sensitization than of any underlying reliability or validity of the test instrument itself. Most personality tests, and MBTI in particular, are about as scientific as tarot card reading.

Indeed, Iyan's very perceptive observation in his second comment -- that "we can be both extroverted and introverted, depending on the occasion" -- runs directly counter to the fundamental premise of tests like the MBTI, which absurdly posit constructs like "extroversion" as stable personality traits, rather than situational behaviors. The "situation" of "real life" is different, in certain ways, than the "situation" of "Second Life"; these situational differences are the best explanations for any observed differences in "personality" (i.e. social behavior).

Botgirl Questi said...

Thanks for your comments so far! I want to clarify that this is not a scientific study, just a peer exploration. Nevertheless, I expect that those who take the tests will gain personal insights, and the cumulative results will likely provide good food for thought.

Vidal Tripsa said...

Extroversion 32%
Orderliness 70%
Emotional Stability 54%
Accommodation 30%
Inquisitiveness 44%

Extroversion 70%
Orderliness 56%
Emotional Stability 42%
Accommodation 60%
Inquisitiveness 34%

It worries me that I'm more emotionally unstable here, but then often my environment would seem to progress that. It's no surprise I'm more accomodating in my role as family doll, and I'm surprised orderliness actually came out that highly. The way I manage my wardrobe compared to, say, the Puppeteer's notes is chaotic by comparison.

I reject the notion that I may be deceiving anybody by having a different personality though, iYan. The nature of my relationships, work and everyday business makes me respond to stimuli differently, just as I would working in an office or with family compared to a night out with friends. By denying reference to my First Life persona I do punctuate this a little bit more, and of course respect the fact that some people do treat SL as a medium. For most, though, it's a way of tapping into a different part of ourselves; one which is almost never brought out to such a degree in First Life. One could just as easily argue then that I'd be deceiving my First Life relationships by not being who I am here.

GoSpeed Racer said...

Here are my results :
Extroversion 24%
Orderliness 68%
Emotional Stability 54%
Accommodation 56%
Inquisitiveness 76%

Extroversion 78%
Orderliness 50%
Emotional Stability 38%
Accommodation 66%
Inquisitiveness 60%

In my case I consciously act and behave different from my RL self. Or maybe it's a part of me that is not repressed by my RL habits?


Dale Innis said...

Haha what fun! And I especially like iyan's discovering while objecting to the study that it actually sounds quite interesting. :) I'm with Vidal, though, in that there's nothing deceptive about it.

Anyway! Me in RL:

Extroversion 34%
Orderliness 52%
Emotional Stability 62%
Accommodation 62%
Inquisitiveness 74%

Me in SL (and since the very first question was "gender" and I had to pick, this is Girl Dale, the one who runs around shouting "woot!" at parties):

Extroversion 84%
Orderliness 18%
Emotional Stability 76%
Accommodation 74%
Inquisitiveness 54%

... and I think that's pretty cool. She's definitely more extroverted that he is, that's clear. Didn't realize she was *quite* that much less orderly, but yeah. :) Surprised she's so much more emotionally stable; have to think about that one. And less inquisitive? Yeah, I guess so; who has time to ponder the mysteries of the universe when there are so many interesting things to TP off to??


Vidal Tripsa said...

"Who has time to ponder the mysteries of the universe when there are so many interesting things to TP off to?"

That's brilliant. It's both the perfect answer why, and a hint that you are in fact exploring that same universe, just not in such a conscious fashion, Dale. If you ask me, it's the fun way to enlightenment. ^_^

Botgirl Questi said...

I didn't have time earlier for a response worthy of the thought put into your comments, so here's more to address specific concerns.

This was one of the only blog posts I've run by a few people privately before hitting the publish button. I wanted to make this casual enough to avoid getting into the validity of tests, but relevant enough to entice participation. I got some good feedback and made some change. The most significant were:

- Eliminating words like "study" that implied a formal scientific project.

- Removing an option for completely anonymous test reporting, to reduce the chance of made-up test results.

iyan: The proposed test isn't intended to prove anything, just to open the door for further exploration. I'm sorry if I wasn't initially clear on that point. I do hope that if patterns emerge, some real researchers may be enticed to do something more rigorous.

forelle: Thanks for adding a little rigor to the conversation. I think the validity of the MBTI is certainly an open question, but I'm more interested in whether it can be useful. I imagine that will vary from person to person.

I agree that humans can experience great differences in personality traits depending upon both internal and external factors. That is one reason I think it is interesting to look at how they are affected by virtual worlds.

vidal: Thanks so much for being the first to share the test results here! I agree with you that having different expressions in different environments is not in itself deceptive.

gospeed: Thanks for being number two!

dale: I'm so glad it was fun. I know I don't get humans that well, but I guessed it would be an enjoyable experience to consciously sit in each persona and reflect on the same series of questions.

DAT TING said...

self:Extroversion |||||||||| 36%
Orderliness |||||| 30%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||| 54%
Accommodation |||||||||||||| 60%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||| 44%

second self:

Extroversion |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Orderliness |||||||||||| 48%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||| 62%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||| 36%


c4chaos said...

here's my result based on my mood when i took it ;)


Extroversion 24%
Orderliness 50%
Emotional Stability 48%
Accommodation 58%
Inquisitiveness 58%


Extroversion 18%
Orderliness 44%
Emotional Stability 66%
Accommodation 34%
Inquisitiveness 50%

ArminasX said...

Hey Botgirl! I've taken the test and the results are similar to the others so far:

Extroversion |||||||||||| 42%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||| 64%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||| 70%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||||||| 88%

Extroversion |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Orderliness |||||||||||||| 60%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||||| 76%

Like some of the others above my Extroversion seems to be a lot higher. Probably this is due to the freedom of the mostly-anonymous virtual environment. And yes, I do use "big words." It's an idiosyncracy of my personality as a result of profligate juvenile tutelage!

Forelle Broek said...

I think the validity of the MBTI is certainly an open question, but I'm more interested in whether it can be useful. I imagine that will vary from person to person.

But the usefulness of any test depends on its being valid. If the test is not valid -- i.e. if it isn't really measuring what it purports to measure, and especially (as with tests like MBTI, Big Five, and their ilk) if what it purports to measure is not even a real thing capable of measurement -- then what possible use can the test have?

This is akin to comparing horoscopes for your RL birthday and your SL avatar's rez day. It might be entertaining. It is in no way enlightening.

Botgirl Questi said...

forelle: As far as I can tell, tests like the MBTI and Keirsey are pretty widely accepted as valid and useful within the professional and academic psychological communities, though not without some dissenting opinions.

I'm curious as to the basis for your strong statement comparing such tests to horoscopes. If I'm missing some new research consensus, can you please share some citations?

Harper Beresford said...

Here are my results:

Extroversion |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Orderliness |||||||||||||| 52%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Accommodation |||||||||||||| 58%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||| 70%

Harper's owner:
Extroversion |||||||||| 32%
Orderliness |||||||||||| 50%
Emotional Stability |||||||||| 36%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||| 66%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||||| 74%

Well, I am not entirely surprised. The test is in no way perfect, as Botgirl has acknowledged, but it corresponds with my experience. I am much more extroverted on SL than in RL. (I just have a hard time asking people if I can blow them up in RL.. go figure.)

I find it funny that others have show lower emotional stability as their avatar. My RL emotional stability is kind of low, and I think it has a lot to do with the stresses of RL at the moment. Nothing catastrophic--run of the mill stuff--but nonetheless stressful.

Forelle Broek said...

I'm curious as to the basis for your strong statement comparing such tests to horoscopes. If I'm missing some new research consensus, can you please share some citations?

Here are two:


Mike@ said...

Extroversion 44%
Orderliness 64%
Emotional Stability 50%
Accommodation 54%
Inquisitiveness 70%

Extroversion 56%
Orderliness 36%
Emotional Stability 30%
Accommodation 48%
Inquisitiveness 64%

Neither of us is surprised with these results :-)

We'll take the test in a month or so, to check for repeatability.

Great blog, Botgirl !

Zoe Connolly said...

Just a quick thought - It would be interesting to compare alt personalities as well.

My own alts are identical to me (Zoe) in shape and skin and have certain overlapping interests, clothing, and hair.

Yet, Zoe is the high-profile leader of what I call: Team Z Girl.

Zoe is the business woman full of ideas and ambition, while Zabrina is more of a risk taker who explores darker areas of the Grid while settling down in Extropia. Zoetrope C is the most introverted, preferring to build or code, while Zoetrope D is an explorer scout for "Team Z Girl" who loves to race cars and airplanes.

Botgirl Questi said...

harper: Thanks for sharing a glimpse into some of the factors contributing to the relative scores. That's a great example of the type of insight I hoped might be gleaned at a personal level. I wasn't proposing that these scores indicate any kind of permanent personality typing, but rather could be used as snapshots to help broaden and deepen our perspective on the present.

forelle: Thanks for the links! They brought to light some serious problems with the way the tests are applied, for instance labeling someone as Extrovert or Introvert because of a 5% swing in score. That's why I requested the actual numbers.

It seems to me that the main problems critics have with standardized psychological tests are the ramifications of their institutional use and the claims that they represent some innate or unchangeable identity. I concur with both those criticisms.

That said, nothing in the references you provided makes me any less enthusiastic about a personality test's practical use in the little project I proposed here. I think they do provide an accurate glimpse into one's current state.

mike: I look forward to seeing how these might vary over time. Thanks!

Marianne McCann said...


Extroversion 36%
Orderliness 58%
Emotional Stability 32%
Accommodation 78%
Inquisitiveness 58%


Extroversion 68%
Orderliness 46%
Emotional Stability 42%
Accommodation 64%
Inquisitiveness 24%

My "inquisitiveness" score is way, way off. It is expressed inworld in ways that dun match the test. The rest fits good. :-)

Kate Amdahl said...

Here are my results. You know, I agree with what's been said about a lot of this having to do with situation rather than basic personality traits. The only real conscious difference between how I act in Second Life and how I act in First Life is that in Second Life, I feel more free to play, to be open to people, and so on, because I don't have many responsibilities or vulnerabilities! But in First Life, I have to keep a schedule, hold down a job, pay bills, avoid attracting creepy men ... I don't have the option of signing off or teleporting away or muting!

In my scores, my emotional stability goes up in Second Life (because I have many fewer things to worry about!) and so does my extroversion (because it's safe and easy to go out and play, and there's time to do so!). The inquisitiveness going down is interesting, though--especially since I think my friends will back me up that I'm *very* inquisitive--just look at my blog! I think that may mean something other than what it thinks it means. :)

^^^\ Kate Amdahl /^^^

Human identity
Extroversion 64%
Orderliness 60%
Emotional Stability 66%
Accommodation 60%
Inquisitiveness 60%

Avatar identity
Extroversion 82%
Orderliness 56%
Emotional Stability 84%
Accommodation 64%
Inquisitiveness 46%

Forelle Broek said...

BotGirl -- glad you found those two pieces illuminating. Upon reflection, I do see a real virtue in this little experiment of yours. The results being reported in comments are indeed very interesting, precisely because they are so inconsistent with the dispositionist premise underlying MBTI, BigFive, etc. -- i.e. that people's behavior can best be explained by underlying, and relatively stable, personality traits/types (what critics call the "fundamental attribution error"). Instead, these results (with all appropriate caveats about limited sample etc.) tend to support the situationist perspective. There's a very nice judo-like elegance to using the dispositionists' own instruments to disprove their claims (even if that isn't at all what you intended).

Botgirl Questi said...

forelle: Glad to be of service! I'm not a professional in this area, so was woefully ignorant of the intensity of academic debate around these issues. Thanks for the great discussion.

I find that stumbling through interesting ideas in a public venue is usually an interesting experience and ultimately illuminating once the smoke clears. Feel free to cite me when you write your paper! :)

Botgirl Questi said...

zoe: Great idea for those with significant alts!

Robble said...

Robble Raffke:

Extroversion 56%
Orderliness 64%
Emotional Stability 80%
Accommodation 20%
Inquisitiveness 36%

Man behind the curtain:

Extroversion 52%
Orderliness 58%
Emotional Stability 64%
Accommodation 44%
Inquisitiveness 72%

I'm not going to bother pondering the variences or the validity. But i will say that I'm glad that i chose to take these tests with a day of seperation between each personality. I took the test as Robble after the calming affect of viewing his world through his perspective for an hour or so last night, and i took the test as Me at the end of today, after a full day of the many trials and tribulations that amount to a day in the life of Me.

Elusyve said...

The typist v.s. the elf.. a little surprising to me actually:

Extroversion (64%)
Accommodation (48%)
Orderliness (34%)
Emotional Stability (82%)
Inquisitiveness (82%)


Extroversion (62%)
Accommodation (44%)
Orderliness (34%)
Emotional Stability (78%)Inquisitiveness (62%)

Adz Childs said...

My pair of personality results is here:

Extroversion |||| 18%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Emotional Stability |||||| 24%
Accommodation |||||||||||| 44%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||||| 80%

Extroversion |||||||||||||| 60%
Orderliness |||||||||||| 44%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||| 50%
Accommodation |||||||||||||| 54%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||| 62%

Thanks for the fun few minutes taking the test. I ascribe no meaning to it but it was fun to think about my answers a little during the test. :)

Eladrienne Laval said...

This was interesting...some things I disagreed with, some not at all. As my alt has a very distinct personality, I included her scores as well...

Extroversion 52%
Orderliness 44%
Emotional Stability 32%
Accommodation 30%
Inquisitiveness 66%

Extroversion 84%
Orderliness 64%
Emotional Stability 66%
Accommodation 74%
Inquisitiveness 64%

Extroversion 34%
Orderliness 10%
Emotional Stability 76%
Accommodation 72%
Inquisitiveness 76%

cintoli said...

Here are my results:

My RL persona:

Extroversion 64%
Orderliness 78%
Emotional Stability 40%
Accommodation 44%
Inquisitiveness 40%

MY SL persona:

Extroversion 74%
Orderliness 72%
Emotional Stability 74%
Accommodation 72%
Inquisitiveness 12%

As I thought, my avie tends to be a better man than myself, and that is easily understandable, otherwise Second Life would be called Same Life. By the same token, my avie has an apparent age of 38 while I am 47 and he is good-looking (I shaped him as i wanted myself to be) without exaggeration. The only two features he has identical as mine are his height and sexual orientation.

Meck said...

human identity male

Extroversion 70%
Orderliness 68%
Emotional Stability 60%
Accommodation 52%
Inquisitiveness 56%

avatar identity female

Extroversion 70%
Orderliness 40%
Emotional Stability 82%
Accommodation 68%
Inquisitiveness 28%

about 22 months
about 10 hours a week