It's in the Game: The effect of Competition and Cooperation on Anti-Social Behavior in Online Video Games

Doctoral thesis OPEN
McLean, David Parsons (2016)
  • Publisher: Virginia Tech
  • Subject: Video Games | Hostility | Online interaction

Video games have been criticized for the amount of violence present in them and how this violence could affect aggression and anti-social behavior. Much of the literature on video games effects has focused primarily on the content of video games, but recent studies show that competition in video games could be a major influence on aggression. While competing against other players has been shown to increase aggression, there is less research on whether the mere presence of a competitive environment can influence aggression. The existing research has also primarily been performed using surveys and lab experiments. While these two approaches are very useful, they lack the ecological validity of methods like field experiments. This study examined how competitiveness, teamwork, and co-operation affect anti-social behavior in video games. A 2 (competition: high vs low) x 2 (cooperation: vs no cooperation) x 2 (team: teammates vs opponents) online field experiment on hostile speech was performed. In this study, it was found that players experience more hostile language from their teammates than they do opponents. However, neither the level of competition nor cooperation had an effect on hostile language. There was a significant interaction between player team and cooperation, with teammates being less hostile in the cooperation condition and enemies being more hostile in the cooperation condition. Implications for hostility in online video games and group dynamics within online games are discussed. MA
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