Harris, H., Bailenson, J.N., Nielsen A. & Yee, N. (2009). The evolution of social behavior over time in Second Life. PRESENCE: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, 18 (6), 294-303.
The current study tracked 80 participants who spent an average of six hours per week in Second Life over six consecutive weeks. Objective measures of movement and chat were automatically collected in real time when participants logged in to Second Life. Data regarding the number of groups and friends was self-reported through online questionnaires on a weekly basis. Results demonstrated that although the social networks of users continued to broaden over the course of the study, users became less inclined to explore regions, decreased their use of high-energy actions such as flying or running, and chatted less. We discuss implications for theories of virtual social interaction as well as the use of Second Life as a social science research platform.