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Study: Unskilled Players More Likely to Negatively Comment in the Presence of Female Players

PLOS ONE research demonstrates correlation between poor game performance and hostility when women are present.

Science: Unskilled male players more likely to be hostile when female players are present

Update: Liana K intelligently speaks on aggrieved entitlement theory and how it's relevant to this study here.

On July 15th 2015, Michael M. Kasumovic and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff published Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour. Say Kasumovic and Kuzekoff, "We hypothesised that female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behaviour from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status. To test this hypothesis, we used an online first-person shooter video game that removes signals of dominance but provides information on gender, individual performance, and skill."

According to the study, the researchers played 163 games in popular first-person shooter Halo 3; 82 games were played with a female player (the experiment) and 81 were with a male player (the control). To quote the study, "There was a significant positive correlation between the number of positive statements and deaths with focal individuals that died more often stating more positive comments. There was also a significant interaction between experimental manipulation and the maximum skill level achieved by focal players on the number of positive statements. In the female-voiced manipulation, lower-skilled players were less positive, while higher skilled players were more positive."

While the experiment doesn't involve a particularly large sample size, it does potentially offer some insight into male player behavior towards female players. The researchers point to a sound theory stating low-performing male players have more to lose (in terms of social status) when matched against well-performing female players.

The scientists do provide an alternate theory, stating players may be responding more aggressively towards individuals with a higher pitched voice, as dominance is predictable by voice pitch.

Read the full study here: Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour

Connect with Jay on Twitter: @_jayholden

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