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

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

Last updated on July 27th, 2015

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.”

Science: Bad male players more likely to be hostile towards female players

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.”

…bad players were more likely to badmouth the female player than skilled players.

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

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5 comments on “Study: Unskilled Players More Likely to Negatively Comment in the Presence of Female Players”

  1. Avatar Castielle says:

    This is a very interesting subject, if not one that is somewhat taboo (wrongfully so, but still is). I find myself wondering if I would be more likely to insult females more skilled than I in competitive games if I was a shettier player. Since I’m generally in the good category in most competitive shooters (1.5-2 KD average ish), I often have the opposite response when playing with or against a female that’s better than me. I’m sort of in awe.

    I will say, in total honesty, that I do try harder when playing with a female of about the same skill. It does bring out a more competitive streak in me. I’m not sure why that is exactly. Naeeli is at or about the same skill as me in Destiny in PvP (and much better than I in PvE), Fex was more skilled than me at LOTRO, and I find It motivates me to be even better. I’m not sure if I’m phrasing everything completely right, but from a brief moment of introspection, I can see how this might be true. I’m not sure that this sort of knee-jerk reaction I have is a good thing, but it’s there nonetheless.

    I’m doing my best to be a more advanced male and I think this article actually made me realize a thing or two about myself (as a male and a gamer).


  2. Avatar Carphil says:

    While we are at it, does this has anything to do due to the "fact" that, it seems like, there are more female players on the gaming world as opposed to the past decades? (I’m sure this has been discussed before, but I can’t remember :no see: )

    Based on my personal experiences, I feel like, nowadays, it’s easier to find a girl playing any online game. I’ve played MMOs since 10, and online shooters since the PS3 came out.

    Perhaps other people has different experiences, but one thing that could add to this study is that, since the gaming world is changing, most male players are trying to adapt to this new Era that include more female players, and some reacts differently than others. Like, most young male tends to react in a pretty immature way, that makes sense because of their age but still, there are a lot of young people playing online games

    This should bring the feeling of gender competition, that we see not only in gaming but in school as well, most people, when they’re kids, compete with the opposite gender, instead of cooperating, which is more common when they’re adults, right?

    The common mentality of "Male kids are better soccer players", or this sort of thing

  3. Avatar Forum_Pirate says:

    That’s not really how stastics work. You, as a person, are not more or less likely to do/be anything according to any stastics. We, as a population, are.

    Crappy players are just looking to shift attention away from the fact that they suck by demonising something else, which is easily observable in most every game I’ve played. There’s a lot of it in DKS as well.

  4. Avatar JohnnyHarpoon says:

    yeah. how many times have you gotten hatemail after a win as opposed to a loss?

    I know I can count on one hand the amount of times I received hatemail after losing a PvP match in a souls game. i’ve lost count of the number i’ve gotten after wins.

  5. linker says:

    I agree. In my day of street fighter 4, (super actually), when i actually practiced and rekt enough people to get around 2500pp, I can’t count the raging hatemail i received, and they attached to the lowest means possible to try and get a reaction out of me.
    What I see here is different though: It sounds a bit like confirmation bias…
    Let me get this straight: i love women, and whenever i find one in a game i’m entusiastic about it, but I kind of started seeing this "trend" to try and find sexism everywhere, especially in gaming, ever since Anita Sarkeesian joined in.
    Now, I’ll agree that the data (though very restricted and descriptive of a small percentage of a community) gives us a sexist picture by dictionary definition, since there IS a different treatment between the genders.
    I would not say that women are worse treated though, since negative comments when the skill gap opens are less than towards males with the same skill gap and positive comments are more in the same situation.Yes,with the lowering of the skill gap they both get lower than towards males, but less comments of any description is not worse treatment.
    I think that probably is a problem of innocent stereotyping that goes hand in hand with the tendency of bad players to badmouth people: the stereotype at play is that women are less skilled than men at games, and bad players are those kind of people that, instead of acknowledging their errors and improve on them need to blame everything on somebody else.
    A study that starts with that introduction and with a rather mysterious way of gathering skill figures though, as a University student in Computer Science is rather dodgy, and makes me squint at it a little.

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