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The stoic male: how avatar gender affects help-seeking behavior in an online game

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Men are more reluctant to seek help for their problems than women. This difference is attributed to social expectations regarding the male gender role. Today, help-seeking is moving online: instead of traditional peer groups and counselors, people depend on online communities and e-counselors. But online users can appear in guises that differ from their physical sex. An empirical study was conducted in an online game to examine whether users' avatars' gender influences how they seek and receive help. Analysis is based on user-to-user communications and back-end data. Results indicate that male avatars are less likely to receive sought-for help than female avatars and more likely to be the recipients of indirectly sought help. The authors conclude that avatar gender influences help seeking independent of physical sex: Men overcome their inhibition for help seeking when using female avatars. Practitioners should ensure that means for indirect help seeking are available in order not to exclude male-pattern help seekers.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/43290/

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