|The subject in the foreground is a 2010 Delilah Noir doll. The image in the background is from an antique reproduction of the 1879 lithograph, Cherry Ripe.|
Although we "know" that the underlying humans we interact with in virtual worlds look nothing like the avatars who meet our eye, it is almost impossible to refrain from relating to them outside of a significant psychological association with their visible form. In my personal experience this is not only true when the viritual identity is pseudonymous, but also when the human is known to me, even when he or she is of a different gender than the avatar representation.
What is the relationship between the stories we hold about people related to their physical appearance and the real beings we encounter? Noticing how we psychologically conflate the obviously constructed appearance of avatars with the underlying person can help us upon our eyes to the same processes at play in the physical world. Another place to notice the fictional construction of identity based upon physical form is our projection of personality on inanimate objects such as the doll and lithograph in the image above.