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Dr. Petroski
Dr. Petroski
Posts : 22
Quality Points : 325
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Join date : 2018-05-16

Virtual Morality

on Thu May 24, 2018 9:30 pm
If it is the case that most individuals respond to media portrayals as if they are real, then how might this influence the way in which we understand our virtual actions. This was the central question of research by media researchers Sven Joeckel and Leyla Dogruel as well as one of the authors of this book (Joeckel, Bowman, & Dogruel, 2012).

In a study on German and U.S. computer users (both children and adults), participants were asked to play a video game that presented them with a variety of different moral dilemmas dealing with issues of harm, fairness, and loyalty among others. Each person’s in-game decisions were recorded, and then the researchers examined the relationship between each user’s real-world moral orientations and the decisions they made in the game related to each moral dilemma. The researchers found when individuals were confronted with a moral scenario related to an issue of great importance to their real lives (such as a person who does not like violence) that they would avoid committing a moral violation when given the opportunity. However, when individuals were confronted with a moral scenario that was not so important to them, the chances of them committing a moral violation were no greater than a coin flip! In other words, gamers seem to make gut decisions when faced with issues of importance to their real lives, but made game decisions when faced with issues that are not particularly important. Put another way, it seems that a video game player’s moral decisions in the virtual world are very similar to their decisions in the real world—that is, there does not seem to be a separate virtual morality.

Yet, it is important to note that the video game in this study was one that did not reward or punish moral violations (see social learning theory, Chapter 6). What do you think? Have you ever been bothered by the content of a video game? Have you ever done something in a video game that you would not otherwise do in real life? How might a video game that seems to glorify moral violations change the findings of the preceding study?

More about this study can be found at:

Dr. Petroski
Department of Communication
Southern Connecticut State University
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