Somebody shared this scientific article from some researchers at Stanford. Randomly enough, one of the reasons I started with imvu was to do research much like this. So its really neat for me to see what else is out there.
The authors surveyed the imvu community in 2011 and though I have a few methodological quibbles (on the questions they used and the people they sampled), the results are mostly believable and are super neat. The most compelling is that people on imvu were more likely to feel “Happy, Relaxed, Free, Calm, Connected, Excited, Wealthy, Safe, Comfortable, Confident, Creative, Important, and Ambitious.” than in RL where they are more likely to feel “Sad, Stressed, Cautious, Angry, Lonely, Bored, Poor, Scared, Awkward, Insecure, Uninspired, Worthless and Lazy.” Importantly, imvu users are not social misfits escaping reality; the authors of the study found that imvu users reported similar emotions in RL to non-imvu users. In fact imvu users are the lucky ones.
“We also pleasantly surprised to find that there was generally higher reporting of positive feelings both outside and inside of the IMVU environment, suggesting a population that generally considers itself happy, confident and creative… a strong challenge to the negative, antisocial stereotype of users of these communities”
People feel more confident and in control when they are on imvu. This sounds right to me, almost. Power relations and influence games are much more laid bare in imvu. But I mean that in a good way. Yes it leads to drama, but it also has been a nice outlet for the many of us who LIKE to be influenced… to follow.
The authors were initially primarily interested in whether people use imvu to escape or to connect, and hypothesizes they would be able to categorize people into one camp or the other. Unsurprising to me, they find that people come to do both. Imvu is about escape but its also about connections and relationships. This site is all about helping people take advantage of both.