Studying Responses to Norm Violations Using Computer Games






Maria Inês Vilhena de Mendonça Lobo



When an individual violates a norm, they infringe one or more principles of proper conduct, presenting behaviours that should not be accepted in a society. However, there are studies showing that norm violators are afforded and perceived with more power than norm abiders. To understand the When, Why and How of these findings, we implemented a video game research tool. This dissertation describes the development process of a configurable resource-management first-person multiplayer game, where players are able to follow or violate norms during resource collection and transactions. In the game, there is one leader responsible for taking or giving power to other players, within actions such as the distribution of resources and the selection of the following leader. We conducted an experiment with 20 participants to verify if the created tool was in line with prior findings. Subjects played the leader role and interacted with two confederates, a norm violator and a norm abider. We measured power perception and affordance given subjects’ game actions and answers from a questionnaire. We found results that contradicted prior studies. Only 35% of subjects selected the norm violator as the leader. Additionally, during resource distribution, subjects favoured the norm abider compared to the norm violator. Given these results, we realized that the scenario of our experiment was unbalanced - the norm violator’s scripted behaviour was extremely selfish compared to the norm abider. Even so, we noticed that a few subjects still perceived the norm violators as more skilful and, therefore, more worthy of power.