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All Your Base Are Belong To me! The Relation of Personality, Sociability, and Addiction in the Virtual Place By Christopher Pollman A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Steven Graham Sarasota, FL May 2013
ii Table of Contents I. Preface I. Table of Contents ii II. Abstract iii II. Literature Review I. Video Games and psychology 1 II Significance of Pro socia l and Anti social Game Behavior 4 III Attachment Theory 8 I V Video Game Addiction 12 VI. Identification and Implications of Video Game Addiction 13 VII The Current Study 16 III Methods Section I. Participants 18 II. Materials 18 III. Procedure 20 I V. Results I Descriptive Stats 20 II. Correlations 21 III. Sex Differences 23 V Discussion 24 VI Limitat ions and Future Research 27 VII Bibliography 29 VIII Appendices 32
iii All Your Base Are Belong To me! The Relation of Personality, Sociability, and Addiction in the Virtual Place New College of Florida, 2012 Abstract The growing popularity of multiplayer video games and online communication has introduced a whole new virtual place for human communication and social activity. Video games in particular have very un ique social dynamics involving their virtual space Unfortunately not very much psychological research has been devoted to understanding and analyzing in game behavior and how it relates to the player In the current study, 272 participants recruited from an online gaming forum were given a questionnaire including a measure of in game sociability, a slightly modified version of the Experiences in Close Relationships Short form scale (ECR S), as well as a measure of video game addiction The results supporte d the hypothesis that avoidant personalities are less sociable during multiplayer gaming, and also revealed some interesting relations between age, attachment styles, and video game addiction.
1 Video Games and Psychology I have been gaming for what seems like my entire life Ever since I played a Star Wars themed space combat simulator as a small child I have been in love with the world of video games I have tried nearly every type of video game in e xistence, from text based adven ture games, to puzzle games, to role playing games, and especially the immensely popular types of first person shooter games. Not only do I find video games to be a marvelous realm of creativity and exploration, they are also a rich and colorful world of social activity and human interaction In my time gaming I have met helpful and polite strangers who have made gaming an excellent experience for me, as well as unpleasant and rude players who seem to take more enjoyment from making other players unhappy This dichotomy of experience has led me to wonder how social psychology could help people understand and interpret the unique social world of video gaming And with this study I hope to do just that. Since their creation, vid eo games have r eceived mixed reactions from many people Seen by some as a technological marvel where people can interact with fantastic, outlandish or even ultra realistic worlds using virtual characters and avatars, video games have also been seen as time wasting activities with no real purpose or useful function outside of entertainment While it i s tr ue that video games, for the most part, are a rather un involved an d simplistic task ( by their physical nature at least) with most games requiring little to no physical exertion it has been found that playing certain video games can reduce stress and improve mood.
2 (EEG) and self reported data to measure changes in mood as well as physical changes in stress and brainwave patterns while they played casual video games. Casual video games are an immensely popular niche of video games due to their accessibility G ames classified as casual have an advantage of being very simple and easy to learn so many people who do not play video games regularly or who lack the certain skills required to play t ougher video games are able to enjoy them. Solitaire is a well known example of a casual video game. In the study, p articipants in the experimental group were asked to choose one of three casual games to play, including Peggle a pachinko style game with pinball elements ; Bejeweled 2 a color matching game where players rotate brightly colored gems ; and Bookworm Adventu res a scrabble/crossword type game where players create words for points The control group was asked to surf the internet for article s related to health and place the articles in a folder on the desktop of the computer they were using Electroencephalogr aphy was used to measure brain activity during testing, with heart rate variability also being measured through photoplethysmography technology The Profile of Mood States assessment was also given before and after testing/gameplay to measure changes in self reported mood states The results of the testing successfully supported the idea that playing casual video games improves mood. Participants who played video games during testing showed positive changes in mood on the EEG, while also showing positive changes in mood on the Profile of Mood States measure before and after gaming Heart rate variability also indicated more relaxed states and reductions in physical stress in the game playing participants Interestingly, e ach of the games played by the exp eriment al group had
3 un ique effects on the patterns of brain activity of the participants Bejeweled 2 players showed decreased left alpha brain waves consistent with decreased withdrawal and depression, Peggle players showed increased right alpha brain wav es consistent with excitement or euphoria, while Bookworm Adventures players had increased stability between left and right alpha brain wave patterns. Other studies sugg est that playing games that involve pro social behavior also increase pro social feeli n gs (Greitemeyer et al., 2010). This type of evidence suggests that researching beneficial aspects of video gaming could prove very useful Games that encourage pro social behavior could be beneficial to a lot of people, and while many games center on violence, even certain violent games offer players a chance to act positively in a social manner Many modern video games with multiplayer elements (wherein players interact with each other and play simultaneously on the same game), encourage players to h elp each other or even play roles that are exclusively helpful and do not require players to use direct violence an example being medics or healing characters whose goal in the game is to keep other players alive or improve their defense In discussing pr o social and anti social types of video game behavior, it could be implied that personality and social psychology are factors that attribute to these behavior s, but is this really the case? Can personality act as a potential predictor of g ame behavior in the realm of sociability ? Another popular, yet controversial topic in the field of psychological video game research is the subject of video game addiction Most of the controversy surrounds whether or no t it even exists Psychologists arg ue heavily on both sides of the case, with many stating th at video games are comparable to other addictive activities such as
4 gambling, and/or imply that video gaming develops a dependency which must be treated specifically. O thers state however, that vid eo game dependence is attributable to other factors with video game dependence being not applicable as an addiction due to a lack of influence on body chemistry ( Lemmens et al., 2009 ; Oggins & Sammis, 2012 ; Van Rooij et al., 2010; Weinste i n, 2010; Wood, 2008 ) Scientific interest towards the implications of video game addiction how it affects in game social behavior as well as how it relates to personality and attachment mean that this study will also include a measure of video game addiction. Significan ce of Pro social and Anti social Game Behavior Currently, psychological research is devoted mostly towards how video game play affects outward behavior in real life, particularly in the case of aggressive behavior (Adachi &Willoughby, 2011 ; Greitemeyer & Osswald, 2010, 2011 ) due to the current popularity of violent video games As a result, there is much less research on the effects of specific in game behavior s and how t hey affect outward real world behavior, especially in the case of positive behaviors (Greitemeyer & Osswald, 2011) One example of a study of negative real world behaviors being potentially affected by video games is a study by Hull et al. (2012) wherein they conducted a longitudinal study in which they measured the association between mature rated and risk glorifying video games and reckless dri ving habits in adolescents. The researchers found that reckless driving was highly associated with playing these types of games based on self reports However, aside from the limitations presented by the authors (i.e. limits of the self report/non experimental design) the findings of this study can also be miss represented by the fact that adolescents who are prone to reckless driving may simp ly be
5 more attracted to play ing the games that express reckless behaviors This study also does no t include any measures of specific in game behaviors, so the results point to the idea that mature and risk glorifying video games affect the sense of self which attributes to reckless driving. Another study conducted by Steinkuehler &Williams (2006) comes closer to measuring how video game behavior relates to personality and sociability, wherein the researchers looked at Massively Multiplayer Online games ( MMOs or MMORPGs) and where the primary intention is to engage in social interac tion. MMOs, or MMORPGs, are a type of role playing game where players explore and interact with fantasy worlds alongside other players while completing various tasks and simultaneously improving and personalizing their characters. oretical framework for within these game worlds creates the idea that video games become a setting for unique social interaction, much like how a bar or a lounge serves as a staple location for socialization and social recreation However this study does no t highlight types of behaviors surrounding actual game play, which is the subject of this study Hutchinson ( 2007) in his article Video Games and the Pedagogy of Place al so discusses the idea that video games construct new virtual places While this article does no t cover social aspects of video games as virtual places, it approaches a set of important positive aspects of the virtual space created by video games The artic le describes the aspects of video game space which are appealing to players; such as the unique landforms
6 and their physical laws which are based loosely on real world laws but also provide a creative space for abstract and fantasy scenarios Hutchinson provides ideas for activities which take advantage of the virtual space of video games for educational purposes He proposes that creative writing based on experiences in virtual places, critical analysis of t he video game place, and even the development of new places using video game space are potentially educational and very beneficial uses of video game space in education. Given the theoretical educational power of the virtual space in video games, sociabili ty and interaction between human players in the virtual space would be very important to those interested in these educational aspects of video gaming. Some of the most promising literature on in game behavior and outward pro social behavior and thoughts comes from researchers Tobias Greitemeyer and Silvia Osswald (Greitemeyer & Osswald 2010; Greit emeyer, Osswald, & Brauer, 2010; Greitemeyer & Osswald, 2011), who have focused much of their work on relating pro social and positive video game habits to real world pro social and positive behavior. Their first study (Greitemeyer, Osswald, & Brauer, 2010), brought forward the idea that if studies have shown that violent video games increase anti social and violent tendencies, as well as decreasing empathy w oul d more pro social and non violent games have the opposite effect ? The researchers conducted two experiments; the first experiment had participants play a pro social game or a neutral game dividing the participants into two groups The pro social game use d was an older game called Lemmings wherein players must guide a group of creatures away from danger, and towards a safe exit The neutral game used was
7 T etris which is another classic game that involved falling blocks and organizing these blocks before they fall completely As a manipulation check, the participants were asked if they considered each of their game s as being pro social, and participants agreed that Lemmings was indeed a pro social game, more so than Tetris After playing the video game, pa rticipants were presented with a vignette about Paris Hilton having to serve jail time, and were presented with three items measuring their feelings toward the vignette The measures were schadenfreude, happiness, and relief After this, participants were also asked to read two separate essays about the unfortunate experiences of the author of each essay, followed by a measure of sympathy, compassion, and soft heartedness the participants felt towards the authors of each essay The results of the experiment confirmed the hypothesis of the researchers, and showed that the players of the pro social game felt more compassion and empathy, and less schadenfreude towards the people that they had read about following the video game play. The second experiment added a third group to the experimental design; the third group played an anti social game called Lamers which is essentially the objective opposite of Lemmings w herein the creatures must be le d to their death The second part of the study only included one vignette, about a robbery of Dieter Bohlen, but participants were still asked about their schadenfreude and feelings of empathy towards Bohlen following the reading The results were consistent with the first study, and showed that players of the pro socia l game had increased empathy and lowered schadenfreude Interestingly though, schadenfreude and empathy were reportedly the same between the neutral control group, and the anti social game group.
8 Attachment Theory In contemporary psychology, attachment i s a major component of social, personality and development al psychology Most everyone can probably state that differ ent people show different behvaiors when it comes to attachm ent, but what is it based on and how can we measure it? John Bowlby (1969, 1973, 1980) helped pioneer the modern view of attachment psychology with a three volume exploration of infant attachment, separation, and loss The purpose of the work was to outline how infants and young children form emotional relationships with their parents and caregivers; why they become attached, and why they become distressed when separated (Hazan & Shaver, 1987) Based on observations and significant research into human and primate infant attachment, Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978) defined 3 separate styles of attachment based on behavioral observation The three categories include secure, anxious/ambivalent, and avoidant Naturally, a psychologist may wonder if these three styles of attachment in infancy and childhood have an y relation to how attachment styles develop into adulthood and their feelings of romantic love In order to delve further into this question Hazan & Shaver (1987) developed 5 hypotheses as to how adult romantic attachment relates to infant attachment styl es The first hypothesis was that 60% of adults would classify themselves as secure, while the rest would split evenly between avoidant and anxious, based on current research into infant attachment styles (which stated that 62% of infants were secure, 23% were avoidant, and 15% were anxious). Their second hypothesis state d that the love experiences of a dults would r eflect their attachment styles The third hypothesis stated
9 that adults working models of self and relationships would vary dependent on their romantic attachment style would reflect in their remembered experiences with their mothers. And fin ally the fifth hypothesi s stated that insecure attachment types would be vulnerable to loneliness, with avoidant types trying to hide this fact more so than anxious or ambivalent types. Hazan & Shaver (1987) conducted 2 studies in an attempt to confirm these hypotheses The firs t study used a newspaper questionnaire placed in an issue of The Rocky Mountain News labeled as a love quiz The second study involved participants from an undergraduate class called Understanding Human Conflict The questionnaire was issued as an in cla ss exercise With the exception of hypothesis 5, t he results of both studies confirmed each hypothesis at least to a certain extent The percentage of adults who labeled themselves as secure, avoidant, or anxious were similar to the predicted a mounts The researchers also found that the emotions of the participants in past relationships coincided with each style of attachment, confirming hypothesis 2 The third hypothesis was confirmed in that participants entertained beliefs about the course of romantic lo ve which were consistent with the three different styles presented The fourth hypothesis showed differing r esults between studies 1 and 2, showing that remembered relationships were, in fact, consistent with attachment styles to varying degrees However, the results were less apparent in study 2, which may be due to reluctance from the student participants to share information The fifth hypothesis, which was only measured in study 2, could not be confirmed due to most avoidant respondents indicating that they distanced themselves from others but did not report feeling lonely. This made it difficult to evaluate them more deeply.
10 Given the consistency of these results and the confirmation of 4 of the 5 hypotheses presented by the researchers, this study indi cates that the framework of attachment theory can be successfully applied to adult romantic attachment These results helped pave the way for future research, namely research which would help simplify the ways of measuring adult romantic attachment Hazan led to the proposal of many different attachment questionnaire s This, however, caused heavy disagreement over which scale would be Brennan (199 8) devised a study with the intent of creating an all purpose, easy to use survey for the purpose of measuring attachment personality Using meta analysis and a new framework for measuring attachment, the authors managed to devise a survey which would be u sed quite frequently in future research. Shaver, Clark, & Brennan (1998) wrote that the three major attachment types proposed by Ainsworth (1978) could be conceptualized on a 2 d spectrum With Avoidance and Anxiety as the 2 dimensional axes and where the three attachment types represented as sections between the two levels Additionally, reports from observational studies have noted the existence of mixtures between avoidant an d anxious behavior in infants. W ith this observation, researchers have proposed the idea of measuring attachment based on four types as opposed to three, using anxiety and avoidance as dimensions for categorizing participants into these four categories; secure, anxious, avoidant, and disoriented/disorganized (Bartholomew, 1990). With this in mind, Brennan et al. (1998) created a multi item measure using as many elements and measures as they could find from other studies The y administered
11 the study to 1,068 undergraduate students enrolled in psychology classes at the University of Texas at Austin After measuring correlations and analyzing results from this study, the authors began devising a short questionnaire with the creation of t wo higher order scales. Thirty six items were selected from an original pool of 323 taken from other studies Two 18 item scales were taken from the 36 selected items, with each scale pertaining to either an avoidant or anxious aspect of attachment personality. This 36 item questionnaire came to be known as the Experiences in Close Relationships scale (E CR) and became standard for later surveys which measure attachment style Later studies found that the test was very reliable, but the fact that the questionnaire is comprised of 36 questions means that it could prove problematic for researchers who requir e a shorter set of questions (Wei et al., 2007) This is why Wei, Russell, Mallinckrodt, and Vogel (2007) proposed a multi part experiment which would validate a shorter version of the questionnaire. Wei et al. (2007) conducted 6 studies in order to create and validate a shorter version of the ECR questionnaire The first study involved administering the ECR to 851 undergraduate students at a public university The results were processed, and the authors used a combination of rational and empirical methods to select 12 of the most important and useful items for a shorter version of the ECR The second and third study used new participant samples to gather data used to cross validate and determine the reliability of the shorter version of the ECR to the full version. Studies 1, 2, and 3 all showed favorable and comparable reliability Study 4 used another sample of 122 undergraduate students to examine the test retest reliability of the 12 items by administering the questionnaire to the students at one initial point, and then again a month later Results showed that the
12 reliability was also solid Studies 5 and 6 were designed to test the validity of the 12 item questionnaire as it stood alone (the prior studies used the full version) Study 6 also examined tes t retest reliability when re administering the test after a 3 week period Results of studies 5 and 6 showed that the 12 items chosen from the study 1 data remained valid when presented on their own The shortened version of the ECR was then called the Experiences in Close Relationship Short form scale (ECR S). (2007) experiments showed that a shorter 12 item version of the study is definitely a valid option for researchers who want a shorter way to analyze adult attachment vi a a self report questionnaire For this study, shorter is definitely better Given that this study will be examining in game social behavior and addiction as well, a shorter ques tionnaire is definitely ideal for a study like this with multiple measures Vi deo Game Addiction Many argue that gaming creates addictive tendencies and is comparably s imilar to gambling addiction. G amers may become dependent on gaming and spend most of their waking time playing, to the point where it hurts their normal lives and prevents them from partaking in other activities ( Van Rooij et al., 2010 ). Other researchers claim that video game addiction does no t actually exist and in spite of many pushes to include gaming addiction as a disorder in the DSM V, this has occurred A report by Wood (2008) gives examples and cites research arguing against the addictive properties of video games Wood argues that video games do not cause dependency and addiction, but only time loss Wood states that difficulty regulating video game pla y is no different from regulating diet or other behaviors requiring discipline To
13 provide support for his statement Wood refers to a selection of cases in which video gaming was proving problematic In each case, both men and women of differing ages use d gaming as a way to cope with problems V ideo g aming appears as an addiction when the person in question displays behavior indicating that they play video games with unhealthy fre quency But in each case, the reasons for gaming are underlined and identifie d, ruling out gaming as an addiction Wood raises an exce llent point that gaming should no t be the focus of attention in analyzing dependency and unhealthy playing habits, but instead the reasons for excess ive gaming need to be the focus This is well and true, but many people use addictive activities for similar reasons, and often to more dangerous ends es pecially in the case of dangerous addictive drugs While the underlying causes of excessive gaming are probably the most important factors in analyzing a onsidered addictive based on its properties which cause dependency and withdrawal, but with important underlying causes, as well as a treatment method based on management of life problems rather than solely physica l implications. Identification and Implications of Video Game Addiction In spite of the fact that the DSM currently does not list video game addiction as a psychological disorder, many studies are identifying addictive properties of gaming, and one study by Weinstein, A. (2010) looks at physical similarities of drug addiction to video game addiction by analyzing dopamine reuptake and brain processes during gameplay in order to compare the e ffects of gaming to substances like cocaine, methamphetam The results of this experiment could go a long way towards validating the theory that video gaming can be considered addictive, as this
14 experiment could draw a link between the physical properties of drug addiction and gaming addiction The researchers in this study had 9 participants who had used ecstasy at one point in their life and 8 control participants play a motor biking video game for 40 minutes, and performed baseline and post test fMRI scans on the participants The results of t he scans showed that video game play activates and potentially changes the reward based circuitry in the brain in similar ways to addictive substances Control participants showed reduction of dopamine receptor occupancy after game play, while ex ecstasy u sers showed no changes These findings support the idea that video game play causes desensitization in reward circuitry in similar ways to dependence causing substances, while psycho stimulant users show decreased sensitivity to the neurological natural re ward systems activated by video gaming. This implication that gaming affects the brain in similar ways to addictive drugs means that treatments for drug addiction could potentially apply to video game addictions In a study by Han, D. et al. (2011 ), resear chers used a drug called Bupropion Bupropion is a drug used to treat sufferers of drug and alcohol addiction by affecting dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake and reducing cravings Because video game addic tion shares many similarities with substance addiction, the researchers hypothesized that Bupropion may affect video game addicts by reducing cravings for game play The researchers gathered data from 19 total participants, 11 participants who were addicte d to video games, and 8 control participants The researchers used a test which presented cues and stimuli meant to induce cravings for gameplay which coincided with an fMRI scan The study also involved recording time spent playing video games as well as the number of cravings for
15 play felt by the participant The results of the study showed that over a 6 week period of taking Bupropion, the participants showed reduced cravings and brain activity in response to video game cues, indicating that the drug aff ects video game addicts very similarly to addicts of substances. Identifying addicted gamers can still prove problematic however, and many methods have been developed to try and measure it To identify gaming as an addiction Van Rooij et al. (2011) conduc ted an experiment to help identify addicted gamers in the Netherlands and help provide for a method to identify gaming addiction in other populations While countries like Korea and China have clinics and public help for people who are addicted to gamin g, psychological research does no t necessarily have a universal way of measuring gaming addict ion The study by Van Rooij et al. (2011) meant to provide empirical data for identifying groups of addicted gamers, in this case a particular group of 13 16 year old gamers from the Netherlands The researchers used the studies such as this one, to gather data and participants for the study Two sessions taking place in 2008 and 20 09 as a part of the monitor study provided the data for the experiment, with 12 schools participating in the first session (with 1572 participants identified as online gamers), and 10 schools participating in the second session (1476 participants identifi ed as online gamers) Eight of these schools participated in both sessions, with 467 participants identified as having been part of both sessions The study measured internet use, hours of video game play per week as well as psychosocial variables The fin dings of the study showed that 3% of the sample were addicted to online video gaming, which represents 1.5% of the population of 13 16 year old gamers
16 in the Netherlands The researchers also identified two groups of gamers, non addicted heavy gamers and a ddicted gamers The psychosocial measurements also showed that addicted gamers had higher scores on depression, social anxiety, as well as lowered self esteem when compared to non addicted heavy gamers The identification of addicted gamers in this populat ion supports the effort to develop and validate measures of non substance addiction. The Current Study The current study is aimed at measuring the nature of sociability and how it relates to the personalities of video gamers. In this case, attachment chara cteristics will be measured as an indicator of pro social or anti social behaviors in game. Anxious and avoidant attachment styles are one of the more commonly measured personality factors when looking at attachment, and will be the measure for this study as they are compared to socializing game behavior A measure of gaming addiction will also be used in this styles as well Since there are multiple ways to meas ure attachment in a brief survey it But not many studies provide direct ways to measure gaming addiction specifically, except for the following study conducted by J.S. Lemmens, P.M. Valkenburg, and J. Peter (2009) Classifying problematic gaming as a n addictive disorder has been an interesting and controversial topic among researchers And movements to place an entry in the DSM V for gaming addictions have pushed many researchers to develop a scale to measure and determine gaming addiction The focus of this article by Lemmens et al.
17 (2009) was to validate and ultimately develop a useful measure of gaming addiction based on 7 pathological criterions used to measure gam bling addiction. Lemmens et al. (2009) conducted two identical studies on two independent samples of participants from the same general population Participants were drawn from secondary schools in the Netherlands in both experiment sessions The first st udy was conducted in May of 2007, with 644 total participants (but only the results of 352 of these participants were recorded into the data due to som e participants not having enough video game playing experience ) The second study was conducted in May of 2008, and had 573 students in the sample (with only 369 recorded in the final data) The reason for using two samples for this study was to test the validity of the scale by assessing cross population validity The study had participants fill out a 21 ite m survey assessing gaming addiction, report on their time spent playing games, as well as a few scales of psychosocial variables such as aggression and social competence. The results of the study indicated that both 21 item and 7 item versions of the game addiction scale accurately measured gaming addiction in adolescents from secondary schools in the Netherlands If problematic video gaming does become recognized as an actual pathology or disorder among psychologists, this scale could work well to measure gaming addiction And given that a short 7 item version of the study is available and is even validated by the researchers, it should be very useful in this current study when used alongside the ECR S and a measure of in game sociability.
18 Methods Section Participants 272 participants were involved in this study Participants were gathered from online gaming forums, asked in person and were recruited from a small liberal arts school in Florida Participants were only selected and included in the st udy based on whether or not they were gamers Participants of any race, sex, or age could complete the survey, but participants had to be regular video game players with r egular video game play being defined as multiple hours per week consistently playing games with multiplayer components. Participants who had never played video games, or who only played video games rarely were not included in the study. Materials Attachment Style Measure To measure attachment styles and levels of avoidance and anxiety, a modified version of the ECR Short form questionnaire developed by Wei et al. (2007) was used The questionnaire was developed to pertain to rule out the confound t hat some participants may not have been in a relationship they consider romantic, the questions selected from the ECR S were modified slightly so that a close relationship could count for a relationship with family, or close friends, and not romantic relat ionships alone An example of one of the questions pertaining to anxiety
19 keep p 7 depending on how much they agree with the statement 1 being strongly disagree, while 7 means strongly agree. Video Game Addiction Measure To measure the levels of gaming addiction in the particip ants, a modified version of the 21 item scale developed by Lemmens et al. (2009) was used Lemmens et al. (2009) also used a shorter, 7 item version of their addiction scale and proved its reliability To keep the survey relatively short and easier to complete, the 7 item version was used in this study An example of a question from this How often did participants answer on a 1 5 scale based on how often this habit occurs A 1 indi cating never, while a 5 indicates very often. Prosocial and Antisocial Game Behavior Measure prosocial and antisocial behaviors during gameplay a new questionnaire was developed The questionnaire uses Likert scale questions that ra nk from 1 7 Coding for the scale is designed to so that prosocial behavior yields a higher score on the questionnaire than antisocial behavior This measure is designed so that it can be easily correlated directly to p l a y in close relationships An example question is: When playing any sort of multiplayer game, do you prefer team based games or free for all style games? Rank your level of preference on the 1 7 scale. Answer 1 if you have an exclusive preference for Free for all games, 4 if you like both equally, and 7 if you have an exclusive preference for team based games. Demographic variables Demographic variables included in the questionnaire were age and sexual identity While th e experimental hypothesis does no t involve differences between age groups or sex, including these demographic variables could yield
20 interesting results, and including age could potentially help root out dishonest questionnaires from participants who do not take the study seriously. Proce dure The primary mode of distribution for the study was through the online website surveymonkey.com The online survey was linked in a post on a relatively popular www.escapistmagazine.com ) The post included instructions for participants and listed the requirements for participating Participants who did not meet the requirements (i.e., under 18, did not play video games, etc.) were asked not to complete the su rvey In case participants felt uneasy after taking a survey involving the topic of video game addiction, a link to a website focusing on video game addiction support and information was provided (www.video game addiction.org) Results Descriptive Stats Two hundred and seventy two participants answered questions on the survey, but not every participant completed the entire survey, and as such certain measures contain less than the total number of participants. Only participants who answered every questio n for specific sections of the test were included in data analysis. The participants who completely answered the sociability measure of the survey answered an average of 4.3 pe r question, with the minimum score s being 1, while the maximum score was 7 (N = 271, SD = 1.02) This indicates solid variability in sociability scores, with the average resting at a mid level, which is expected. The average score (with reverse scored questions taken into account) on each question of the ECR avoidance scale was 3.7, w ith the minimum score being 1, while the
21 maximum score was 7 (N = 258, SD = 1.32) i ndicating an overall slightly un avoidant measure for the sample. The average scores on the ECR anxious scale yielded similar results, with an average score of 3.35 per que stion, an average minimum of 1, and an average maximum of 6.33 (N = 258, SD = 1.21). Participants who completed the addiction measure of the survey averaged a score of 2.3 6 per question, with the minimum s core being 1.14, and the maximum score being 4.14 ( N = 258, SD = 0.61) The cutoff score for this addiction measure is at or around 3 per question, or a total score of 21 As the average scores for this measure sit at just under 3 for each question, this sample contains mostly participants who are at risk but are not necessarily addicted to gaming Descriptive Statistics N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation VideoGameSociability 271 1.00 6.50 4.3073 1.02441 ECRAvoidant 258 1.00 6.67 3.7032 1.32013 ECRAnxious 258 1.00 6.33 3.3554 1.20672 VGAddiction 258 1.14 4.14 2.3841 .61095 Age? 253 13 42 22.33 4.738 Sex? 249 0 1 .10 .306 Do you consider video games to be addictive? 255 1 3 1.96 .700 Valid N (listwise) 248 Correlations Pearson r correlation tests were used to analyze significant correlations between measures. Age, addiction, in game sociability, avoidance, and anxiety were all calculated together and analyzed for correlations.
22 It was found that in game sociability correlated negatively with avoidance at the two tailed 0.01 level with a Pearson r of 0.269. This coincides with the hypothesis that avoidant players are less likely to exhibit social behavior during online play. This was the only significant correlation between sociability and the other measures of the survey, however Anxiety (r = 0.056), addiction (r = 0.005), and age (r = 0.042) did not show any significant correlation with in game sociability. Avoidance was significantly correlated with both age and addiction though. Avoidance and addiction correlated positively w ith a Pearson r of 0.187 at the two tailed 0.01 alpha level, while avoidance and age correlated positively with a Pearson r of 0.132 at the two tailed 0.05 alpha level. These responses indicate that gamers with an avoidant personality might be more likely to become addicted to gaming, while older gamers might be more likely to exhibit avoidant personalities. Avoidance and anxiety did not show any significant correlation (r = 0.017) Finally, addiction was correlated significantly with anxiety as well as age in this study. Addiction and anxiety correlated positively at the two tailed 0.01 alpha level with a Pearson r of 0.247, while addiction and age correlated negatively at the two tailed 0.05 alpha level with a Pearson r of 0.141. This indicates that anxio us gamers are more likely to become addicted, while older gamers are less likely to become addicted to gaming.
23 Sex Differences The sample of participants in this study were predominantly male (N = 223), with a comparatively small sample of female participants (N = 26). Some slight differences are shown in the descriptive statistics, however. For example, females indicated a higher average score per question on the sociability scale with a mean of 4.6 (N = 26, SD = 0.95), compared to males who averaged a score of 4.3 per question (N = 223, SD = 1.03). Correlations Video Game Sociability ECRAvoidant ECRAnxious VGAddiction Age? Video Game Sociability Pearson Correlation 1 .269 ** .056 .005 .042 Sig. (2 tailed) .000 .368 .934 .511 N 271 258 258 258 253 ECRAvoidant Pearson Correlation .269 ** 1 .017 .187 ** .132 Sig. (2 tailed) .000 .780 .003 .035 N 258 258 258 258 253 ECRAnxious Pearson Correlation .056 .017 1 .247 ** .088 Sig. (2 tailed) .368 .780 .000 .162 N 258 258 258 258 253 VGAddiction Pearson Correlation .005 .187 ** .247 ** 1 .141 Sig. (2 tailed) .934 .003 .000 .024 N 258 258 258 258 253 Age? Pearson Correlation .042 .132 .088 .141 1 Sig. (2 tailed) .511 .035 .162 .024 N 253 253 253 253 253 **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2 tailed). *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2 tailed).
24 Females participants also had a lower average score per question on the avoidance scale, with 3.12 per question (N = 26, SD = 1.35) compared t o m ales who scored an average of 3.7 per question on the avoidance scale (N = 223, SD = 1.31). Females did, however, score higher on the anxiety scale, with an average of 3.5 per quest ion (N = 26, SD = 1.13), while m ales scored an average of 3.35 per question (N = 223, SD = 1.22). Average addiction scores showed little to no difference with the average score per questi on being close to 2.3 for both m ales (N = 223, SD = 0.62) and females (N = 26, SD = 0.48). Discussion Much of the study went in accordance with the predicted outcomes The average scores per question on the sociability measure stayed at a medium level, with the mean being 4.3 per question This indicates that as a whole, most average gamers are slightly inclined to be more social but generally have a neutral disposition when it comes to being social in video games Not everybody prefers to lead or be particularly cooperative This is consistent with a lot of observable gameplay behavio r in multiplayer video games In my own experience, I have seen that player sociability can vary highly depending on the game being played Many games in the first person shooter genre tend to sway in either direction when it comes to reinforcing player so ciability; some games like Halo or Call of Duty, which featu re individual skill as opposed to teamwork in many game types, do not require much player communication even in team based games O ther games such as ARMA (an ultra realistic military shooter) req uire co nstant player communication about strategy, maneuvers, and objectives. The average scores on the anxious and avoidant measures of the ECR S portion of the study were also encouraging. Both of the mean scores on anxiety and avoidance were
25 below 4, in dicating that as a whole the participant sample did not sway towards one end of the spectrum measures An unusually avoidant or anxious sample of participants could have potentially skewed the data It can not be said if this is representative of the world population of video g amers, but such data likely do not even exist. Similarly the average addiction data were also promising The cutoff score set by Lemmens et al. (2009) for the shortened version of the gaming addiction scale is a total of 21 w hich is approximately 3 per question, and given that the average score per question for the participants answering the addiction measure was 2.3, it indicates that the sample participants are at risk of, but may not be addicted to gaming It was likely differ ent for specific participants, but the point of the study is to compare the prevalence of addiction as it related to the sociability measure and their levels of avoidance or anxious attachment. The primary hypothesis of this thesis was that gamers exhibiting predominantly anxious and/or avoidant personalities would indicate much lower scores on the sociability measure The resulting correlations from the study showed that this was true only for the avoidant population Sociability and avoidance corr elated significantly with an r value of 0.269, while sociability and anxiety correlated at an r of only 0.056 It seems natural that people with avoidant attachment personalities would exhibit this in gameplay as well Avoidant gamers as a result may pref er games where player interaction does not involve much communication and instead just prefer to play with others without social interaction. The lack of significance between anxiety and sociability in online gaming could indicate that online gaming may a lleviate certain stress factors that people with anxious
26 attachment styles experience in social situations This could be due to the factor of anonymity in gaming Most online video games require that players create internet based profiles which use nickna mes or aliases, meaning that players do not have to use their real names or identities when playing online This could alleviate stress that certain people may feel in social situations where someone may be afraid that they are being judged by others based on prior knowledge of that person The anonymity in online interaction could alleviate that stress when the player knows that the people they are interacting with have likely never met them before It could also mean that some people who feel anxious when interacting with others in person are simply much more comfortable being social on the internet or in the gaming space People who feel that they have a much higher status in a game as opposed to real life may also show similar habits. Having a perceived low status in life like ly contributes to social anxieties The same concept can be applied to social interaction in video games Players with higher skill or higher levels in role playing games may feel a sense of having a higher social status in that gam e due to their skill and the way people perceive them. In cases where people believe they have a low social status in real life and yet feel like they have a high social status in video games due to their skill or levels are likely to exhibit more anxious behavior in real world interaction while consequently feeling more comfortable and popular in multiplayer video games. Correlations between age and the other measures also had interesting implications The positive correlation between age and avoidance may indicate that older gamers tend to have more avoidant personalities Why this is true is hard to say, it could be that gaming as a way to cope with social anxieties remains popular through adulthood
27 Or even that certain adults with avoidant attachment st yles are more likely to turn to gaming as a social medium as opposed to real life interaction More research would be needed to say for sure. The correlation between age and addiction could imply a number of things as well It may be indicative that as gam ers mature, they may become less attached to video games and spend less time playing them It could also be true that people who begin playing video games at older ages are less likely to get drawn into them as deeply as younger gamers Older players may view gaming as a light hobby as opposed to younger gamers who may see gaming as a sort of lifestyle. Addiction showed no significant correlation with the sociability measure ( r = 0.005) which is understandable. A player could be addicted to video gaming f or social or anti exclusively Interestingly though, addiction had a significant positive correlation with both anxious and avoidant attachment styles. Indicating that extr emes of the attachment style measure are potential predictors for gaming addiction This indicates that the less secure one is in their attachment to close relationships, the more likely they are to spend increased amounts of time gaming. This is an intere sting find, and may imply that gaming is a way for less secure players to seek secure and satisfying social sensations, or may simply feel more secure in a virtual world as opposed to real life. Limitations and Future Research While this research shows pr omising information about the relation between personality, online sociability in video games, and video game addiction, the whole of these results are based off of self r eports, meaning that the data are reliant on
28 eptions of their self players who consider themselves social online may actual exhibit different behavior when playing online online behavior directly, and perhaps us ing interview methods for measuring attachment. Another unfortunate limitation is the fact that the participants all came from one online community. Surveys were posted on multiple gaming websites, such as an independent website for gaming reviews and new ( www.angryjoeshow.com ) but the surveys received no responses from this site There is a possibility that some bias was present in the data, as the online community that the data were drawn from ( www.escapistmagazine.com ) may attract certain personality types However, the means from the descriptive statistics ind icate a pretty average sample of participants, this experiment would benefit from being redone with a larger pool of participants drawn from multiple gaming communities. If future research like this yields similar results and correlations, delving further into the specific relationships such as the positive correlation between less secure attachment styles and gaming addiction would likely be very beneficial in helping us understand how gaming is related to social psychology. Social media and internet base d communication dominate s forms of communication will be just as common as and maybe even more common than face to face interaction U nderstanding the differences between personal interaction a nd online interaction in certain individuals will likely be very important in social psychological research in the near future.
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32 Appendix A Video Game Sociability Questionnaire Experience and Playing Style in Video Games Scale Instructions: The following questions will ask about your experiences, behavior and playing style in video games The questions will refer to social behaviors and interaction This can include interaction with other human players in the case of multiplayer games (both online games, and local split screen games) as well as interaction with non human and computer controlled characters within video games If you have no experience with the behaviors or play style referred to in the questions, answer the question hypothetically based on how you imagine you would play in that type of game/scenario. 1). When playing a multiplayer game, how often do you directly interact with other pla yers (besides killing for points)? Answer 7 if you do it very often, answer 1 if you generally don't interact and just stick to playing the game. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2). When playing any sort of multiplayer game, do you prefer team based games or fre e for all style games? Rank your level of preference on the 1 7 scale Answer 1 if you have an exclusive preference for Free for all games, 4 if you like both equally, and 7 if you have an exclusive preference for team based games. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3). If you play team based multiplayer games, do you play a helpful role or do you mainly serve your own purpose to better the team? Rank your answer on the 1 7 scale based on how often you play a helpful role in team based games. 1 if you are always sol itary or just do not play team games, 7 if you are almost always playing a purely helpful role on the team (e.g. medic/healer). 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4). Do you like to play as a leader? Do you enjoy trying to coordinate others or run the strategy duri ng a multiplayer game? Rank your answer below. Answer 1 if you prefer not to lead groups or usually play solo, answer 7 if you like to lead as much as possible. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
33 Appendix A (Continued) 5). How important do you feel good communication is in a game? Do you enjoy a game more if everyone is talking and coordinating? Or do you think it's more fun if everyone just plays well and doesn't talk to each other ? Rank your answer on a 1 7 scale, answer 1 if you prefer less communication and 7 if you only play games where people coordinate and communicate vocally. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6). Do you enjoy multiplayer games more for the social aspect of playing with other gamers or do you feel that human players provide for a better challenge and more fun experience and prefer to play multiplayer games for this reason exclusively? Rank your answer based on how much you like multiplayer games for the social aspect or the challenge aspect. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
34 Appendix B Experiences in Close Relationships Short form scale (ECR S) Experiences in Close Relationship Scale Short Form (ECR S) Instructions : The following statements concern how you feel in close relationships (best friends, family, siblings significant others). The questions are about how you generally experience relationships, not just about what is happening in a current relationship. Respond to each statement by indicating how much you agree or disagree with it. Mark your answer using th e following rating scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 1). It helps to turn to someone close in times of need. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 2). I need a lot of reassurance that I am loved by the people close to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 3). I want to get close to somebody, but I keep pulling back. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Disagree Ne utral Strongly Agree 4). I find that people don't want to get as close as I would like. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 5). I turn to my someone close for many things, including comfort and reassurance. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree
35 Appendix B (Continued) 6). My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 7). I try to avoid getting too close to people, even ones I love. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 8). I do not often worry about being abandoned. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 9). I usually discuss my problems and concerns with my people close to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 10). I get frustrated if the people I love are not available when I need them. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St r ongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 11). I am nervous when people get too close to me, even ones I love. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree 12). I worry that the people I care about won't care about me as much as I care about them. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 St rongly Disagree Neutral Strongly Agree
36 Appendix C Video Game Addiction Scale (7 item version) Game Addiction Scale Instructions: The following 7 questions will ask you about your video game playing habits and how you feel about these habits in order to assess addiction Answer each question truthfully by marking how often each item has occurred to you in the past six months by mar king it on the 1 5 scale. 1 (never), 2 (rarely), 3 (sometimes), 4 (often), 5 (very often) Remember that the survey is anonymous and your results on this test will not be shared or published in a way that identifies you. How often during the past six mont 1) Did you think about playing a game all day long? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often) 2) Did you spend increasing amounts of time on games? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often) 3) Did you play games to forget about real life? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often) 4) Have others unsuccessfully tried to reduce your game use? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often) 5) Have you felt bad when you were unable to play? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often) 6) Did you have fights with others (e.g., family, friends) over your time spent on games? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often) 7) Have you neglected other important activities (e.g., school, work, sports) to play games? 1 (never) 2 (rarely) 3 (sometimes) 4 (often) 5 (very often)
37 Appen dix D General Questions 1) What is your age? _____ 2) Sex ? ____ 3) Do you consider video games to be addictive? Yes No Unsure