Am i my avatar? A tool to investigate virtual body image representation in adolescence

Daniela Villani, Elena Gatti, Emanuela Confalonieri, Giuseppe Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The assessment of body image in adolescence plays a key role in investigating self-esteem development and social adjustment. In particular, these days, adolescents use more and more online tools to communicate with other people, and virtual body image represents a critical aspect for understanding the avatar development. This study aims at investigating the virtual body representation by using the "Drawing Me" graphical test with a group of Italian adolescents. Specifically, we compared body image representation in real (drawings) and virtual (avatar) life by taking gender differences into consideration. Results show that virtual body representation is more characterized by the sexual features related to body, face, and clothes and by a major number of context elements than real body representation. Gender differences confirm that girls tend to represent themselves in greater detail than boys and their avatars are rich with sexual characters. To conclude, our study illustrates that the Drawing Me test is an effective tool that analyzes the virtual body representation in an unobtrusive way, and intervention implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-440
Number of pages6
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Applied Psychology
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Social Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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