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Effects of cooperative and competitive game playing on empathy

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posted on 2021-05-23, 14:56 authored by Nicole Charewicz

The present study examined the effects of cooperative and competitive game playing on empathy. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, with a confederate: playing a video game cooperatively (N = 51), or playing a video game competitively (N = 55). The game played was the non-violent, puzzle-platformer Portal 2. When playing cooperatively, participants completed levels through the multiplayer option where they had to act together with the confederate to be successful. In the competitive condition participants played the single-player campaign and competed with the confederate for the best time-to-completion of the first series of levels. After playing Portal 2 for approximately 15 minutes, participants watched the confederate submerge her hand in what they thought was ice-cold water for 30 seconds. Participants sat facing the confederate and rated their perception of the confederate’s pain, their own pain, the amount of empathy they felt for the confederate, as well as how close they felt to the confederate. A subsequent measure also assessed the extent of participants’ empathic concern by providing them the option to reduce the time that the confederate had to put her hand in the water a second time. Results showed no significant differences between the two conditions with respect to levels of empathy. However, participants felt more trusting and friendly towards the confederate in the cooperative condition.





Master of Arts



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type