Braun et al looked at 5 personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness) in a total of 2891 German subjects who answered an online survey about game behaviour and personality.
For those not familiar with these personality terms, here is a quick breakdown:
Neuroticism: high (sensitive/nervous) vs low (secure/confident)
Extraversion: high (outgoing/energetic) vs low (solitary/reserved)
Openness to experience: high (inventive/curious) vs low (consistent/cautious)
Agreeableness: high (friendly/compassionate) vs low (analytical/detached)
Conscientiousness: high (efficient/organised) vs low (easy-going/careless)
First, they divided their sample into three groups based on their gaming frequency. The three groups were non-gamers, regular gamers, and gaming addicts.
- highest levels of neuroticism in non-gamers and gaming addicts
- lowest levels of extraversion and conscientiousness in gaming addicts
- Highest levels of openness in male non-gamers and female regular gamers
- Highest levels of conscientiousness in non-gamers
Second, they divided the sample into groups based on favourite video game genre: simulation, strategy, action and role-play.
- Highest levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness in lovers of simulation games
- Highest levels of extraversion in lovers of action games
- Highest levels of openness in female role-playing gamers
What should you take away from this research?
- Neuroticism has been repeatedly associated with gaming addiction, indicating, not surprisingly, that those struggling with gaming addiction are likely to be anxious and depressed. According to these results they are also likely to be more introverted and less conscientious.
- Interestingly, non-gamers exhibited similar levels of neuroticism to the gaming addicts. The authors suggest that this personality characteristic (e.g. worrying, nervousness) might impair engagement in the game world, but I’d suggest that given where they got their sample (advertised on gaming sites and forums) that the non-gamer group is actually a group of past-addicts.
- Regular gamers (i.e. those who can enjoy gaming as a regular leisure activity) exhibited the most balanced personality profile. Good news huh!
- Players of life simulation games were the most neurotic and conscientious. Action game players were the most extraverted. Role playing gamers were the most open. However some of these differences were quite modest and I’d be cautious assigning personality characteristics to genres without more evidence.
What do you think?
Do you reckon there is a relationship between your personality and your gaming behaviour?
Which came first – were you attracted to specific games because of who you are, or did your gaming shape your personality?
What other personality traits do you think are important when considering gaming behaviour? (try using this list – http://ideonomy.mit.edu/essays/traits.html)