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Video Game Players With Thin Avatars More Physically Active Than Obese Ones, UC Davis Study Finds

DAVIS (CBS SF) – A new study from UC Davis found women playing a video game who were given an overweight avatar were not as active as those with a thin avatar, regardless of the player's actual body type.

The research involved 96 female undergraduates who played a tennis video game. Players were randomly assigned video game characters that were either thin or obese and their opponents were randomly assigned.

Using accelerometers to measure physical activity, players who had thin avatars were more active than those with obese avatars. Those with a slim avatar playing against a slim opponent had the highest activity.

"People can get so immersed when playing video games that the virtual self momentarily becomes more salient and influential on behavior than our real self," said researcher Jorge Pena.

A similar study with men is in the works, according to Pena.

The study, co-authored by assistant professor Eunice Kim at the University of Florida, appears in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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