Recent research by SONIC undergraduate Nick Merrill and graduate student Brooke Foucault demonstrates that social status within a Second Life group is positively correlated with the donation of in-game resources to one’s group. In Second Life, in-game resources can be traded for real-world money, so this finding indicates that an avatar’s social standing among virtual friends may be strong enough to spur sacrifices in the player’s real-life bank account. Overall, this research shows that traditional models of social giving and altruism may hold in a virtual-world context.

The paper will be presented at the NCA Conference in November.

 

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