The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

April 10, 2008 Number 185

This issue:

Lessons from an Avatar

Action to take

Look for opportunities to stretch your self-image to be more youthful.


What if playing a game on your computer could help you feel and act more youthful? Nick Yee's dissertation at Stanford University suggests it can. (Since dissertations aren't easy reading you may want to opt for the abstract and reader comments on his website.)

Here is the short version of his research:

In video games and Internet chat rooms, people often select avatars (visual images) to represent themselves or their characters. Nick Yee randomly assigned people to taller or shorter avatars and found that taller avatars negotiated more aggressively than shorter avatars. Those assigned more attractive avatars walked closer and disclosed more information to strangers. These effects took place within minutes of assuming the avatar.

What was especially remarkable was that the effects persisted after the game in the real world. It's like going to a Rocky or Superman movie and feeling more powerful afterwards--the avatar's (or hero's) traits tend to transfer.

This has many implications. First I have a lot of concerns about the billions of hours people are spending playing violent games. Second, there is potential for video games to help people overcome problems such as shyness, poor self-image, unassertiveness, anxiety, and phobias. Third, since my special interest is helping people feel more youthful, I am especially interested in how youthful avatars might help keep people think and feel more youthful.

Hopefully it is just a matter of time before programmers develop games to help us think and feel more youthful. In the meantime you can still use the lessons from his avatars to hone a youthful self-concept the old fashioned way (e.g., carefully chosen heroes, visualization, books, and movies).

For example, you could lip sync a Tina Turner performance. (She is now 68 and still brimming with energy.) you might feel the invincibility, courage, and confidence of Arnold Schwarzenegger (now 60) or some other action hero in one of their adventure movies. Better yet, study centenarian role models such as the artists Amy Gorman described when I interviewed her for Ageless Lifestyles Radio or Liane Enkelis' wonderful centenarian profiles and photographs in her book, On Being 100.


You’re never to old to become younger.

~Mae West


You can only be young once, but you can always be immature.

~Dave Berry

Radio talk show caller: I’m 75, Flo. I used to want to live fast and die young! Flo: And now? Caller: Well…now I just want to die young at a very old age.

~Flo & Friends cartoon by Campbell Bigel

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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include:  Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."

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