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Investigating Psychopathic Behavior Using the Sims 3 Video Game

By: , , & Published: 2021 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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In the article, “Psychopathic Sims: Testing the cheater-hawk hypothesis in a video game,” we used “The Sims 3” video game to investigate psychopathic traits. Our participants completed a self-report psychopathy inventory, but also played a Sims 3 video game, interacting with virtual characters we had given different personality traits. Game play was recorded so that we were able to count interactions of various types. Using this methodology, we found that individuals who reported higher levels of psychopathic traits were more apt to use “mean” and aggressive interactions in general, and particularly toward the “dove” character. We concluded that video games are a useful research method, particularly when the interactions of interest (i.e., aggression) are unsuitable for “real-life” behavioral observation.

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