Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Patrick J. Ewell

Abstract

This study applies Cialdini and Borden’s (1976) concepts of Basking in Reflected Glory (BIRGing) and Cutting Off Reflected Failure (CORFing) to sports videogame players to see if players distance themselves from their own poor performance by using the pronouns “he” or “you” to refer to the avatar, as opposed to “I.” BIRGing and CORFing are well established in the literature in sports psychology and relationship psychology: sports fans use more self-inclusive pronouns (e.g. “we”) to refer to a team when they are performing well than when they are performing poorly. Participants in this study played a 15-minute basketball game in NBA 2K18 with their shooting performance increased, decreased, or left at the game default, while talking aloud. The participants’ speech was recorded and coded for pronouns which exclude versus include the self, and compared to the player’s percentage of shooting success and their net score. A 3 (high performance, moderate performance, low performance) x 3 (high experience, moderate experience, no experience) factorial ANOVA found no interaction (p=0.937) between performance and experience on distancing pronouns (i.e. “he”/“you”) and no effect of performance on distancing pronoun use (p=0.285). However, those with high experience (M=0.25, SD=0.16) used significantly more fully distant pronouns than those with only some experience (M=0.065, SD=0.609) and those with no experience (M=0.096, SD=0.151). The results imply that general videogame experience is a more important predictor of distancing language than actual performance, possibly because experienced players understand that the avatar has individual skill settings separate from the player’s skill.

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