Wednesday 13 December 2023

Research Bulletin: Who Is More Likely To Help You In A Video Game?

With the growing popularity of video games, developers bear a heavier responsibility to ensure that their games do not foster toxicity and unsupportive behaviour among players. Johnson and colleagues (2021) decided to investigate when helping behaviour was more likely to occur in video games. In order to do so, they examined two kinds of passion people can have for a hobby: harmonious and obsessive passion. Harmoniously passionate people describe their hobby positively and can engage in it without the risk of negative consequences. In contrast, obsessively passionate people show the same enthusiasm but they tend to neglect other goals or activities while engaging in their hobby. These researchers also suspected that empathy might motivate people to help others in the game. Based on data from 389 participants, they found that player empathy did indeed predict more helping. However, both types of passion were not strongly related to helping behaviour, so empathy appears to be the most important factor. That said, harmonious passion was associated with greater empathy, whereas obsessive passion was associated with less empathy. Based on these findings, empathetic people tend to be more helpful in video games, and those who approach their gaming hobby with harmonious passion are likely to be more empathetic. Given the potential transfer between in-game and real-life behaviour, game developers need to create games that promote empathetic behaviour. Furthermore, building relatedness in gaming communities might be one way to decrease toxicity, creating more welcoming gaming communities.

Johnson, D., Zhao, X., White, K. M., & Wickramasinghe, V. (2021). Need satisfaction, passion, empathy and helping behaviour in videogame play. Computers in Human Behavior, 122, 106817.

Post by Claire Regina Kurniawan

Photo by Matilda Wormwood via Pexels


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