Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Christina deGraft-Johnson, Rachel L. Grover, Ph.D., Theresa DiDonato, Ph.D., Kent Norman, Ph.D.

Friendship Context as the Moderator of the Relation between Time Spent Playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) and Social Anxiety

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Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) is a genre of video games that allows for a unique gaming experience. Not only do players get the chance to create and follow a story for their characters, but they also get to interact with other players to pursue a common goal in the game (Stetina, Kothgassner, Lehenbaur, & Kryspin-Exner, 2011). This interaction allows for friendship formation and the sharing of experiences in the game and in real life. There are many theories that look at the importance of how people relate to each other and the benefits of having a social network (e.g. Maslow, 1943; Homans, 1961). While research understands these benefits, it is important to seek ways to help individuals who may feel socially anxious and thus lack the means of forming these meaningful relationships. There have been attempts to treat social anxiety using virtual reality, but the necessity of having a therapist makes this treatment not efficacious (Klinger et al., 2005). The current study aims to explore the relation between MMORPGs and individuals’ quality of friendships. In addition, this study aims to investigate the influence of social anxiety on this relation. Specifically, it is hypothesized that there will be a relation between the quality of friendships and time spent playing MMORPG, which will be modified by friendship context (online vs. offline). In addition, it is hypothesized that there will be a relation between social anxiety and time spent playing MMORPGs. Lastly, this study hypothesizes that there will be a relation between social anxiety and quality of friends, which will be moderated by friendship context (online vs. offline). Data will be collected from participants via an online survey. This online survey will be comprised of demographic information, motivations for MMORPG game play, the social provisions scale, and a social anxiety questionnaire. The current poster will present the rationale for the study, study hypotheses, and planned procedure and analyses. Implications of possible findings will also be discussed. 


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Virtual reality therapy versus cognitive behavior therapy for social phobia: A preliminary controlled study. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 8, 76-88.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological review, 50, 370-396. Retrieved from http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

Stetina, B. U., Kothgassner, O. D., Lehenbaur, M., & Kryspin-Exner, I. (2011). Beyond the fascination of online games: Probing additive behavior and depression in the world of online-gaming. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 473-479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.09.015