Males who perform poorly in online games less likely to support female players

Lower performing male players in Halo 3 were more hostile towards female players

Lower performing male players in Halo 3 were more hostile towards female players

by Larry Magid

Here’s a no brainer. Male gamers who are losers are more likely to direct hostility towards female game players. The evidence comes from a study conducted by Michael M. Kasumovic and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff, published on Plos.org.

The paper, Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour reported that “low-status males” who perform poorly in the game exhibit increased hostility to female players “to minimize the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena,” while higher skilled male players “were more positive towards a female relative to a male teammate.”

The study, which took place within the first-person shooter video game, Halo 3, examined whether a number of positive, negative and neutral statements by a player were correlated with the outcome of the game. And, after 163 games, they found “Low-status males that have the most to lose due to a hierarchical reconfiguration are responding to the threat female competitors pose. High-status males with the least to fear were more positive, suggesting they were switching to a supportive, and potentially, mate attraction role.” As the chart (below) shows, men’s behavior towards other male players is pretty much the same regardless of skill level (the broken line) while male treatment of female players is correlated with the skill of the male (solid line) with the higher skilled males being nicer to women players.

This study reinforces the notion that men whose status is threatened are more likely to take it out on women in their environment. While the study itself focuses on a particular video game, the findings are consistent with other theories about sexist behavior.

Treatment of women by male players improves with skills of males

Treatment of women by male players improves with skills of males

Here’s more from the Washington Post.