The Self and Second Life: A Case Study Exploring the Emergence of Virtual Selves

Part of the Springer Series in Immersive Environments book series (SSIE)


Using the virtual world Second LifeTM as a case study, the chapter begins a social psychological exploration of how living in virtual worlds may be transforming the experience of the self in contemporary society, from the ‘insider viewpoint’ of virtual world residents. The relationship between the virtual self and the ‘real life’ self is explored using data collected and key themes elicited from 40 textual interviews conducted inworld and inductive thematic analysis. The findings indicate a variety of complex relationships between the self experienced in the physical world and Second Life. First, the degree of similarity between the actual and virtual self varies according to experience. Second, the avatar tends to be seen as a separate entity. Finally, social processes within Second Life affects how the self is experienced, by allowing exploration of aspects of the self not possible in the physical world.


Real Life Virtual World Physical World Traditional Theory Instant Message 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceSocial and Cultural PsychologyLondonUK

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