- Snodgrass, Jeffrey G
- Lacy, Michael G
- Dengah, H J Francois I I
- Fagan, Jesse
We use survey data—interpreted through ethnographic interviews and our own game-playing experiences—to model the way culture impacts the therapeutic dynamics of play in the popular online game World of Warcraft (WOW). To do so, we utilize cognitive anthropological understandings of ‘cultural consonance’ (Dressler and Bindon 2000)—that is, the extent to which individuals embody or fail to embody socially shared and sanctioned models of success. We find that players who report more individual ‘consonance’ with culturally shared models of ‘real-life’ or offline success are more likely to play in healthier ways as assessed through players’ self-reports of the impact of WOW on their life happiness, stress relief, and patterns of problematic play. We uncover both direct relationships between an individual’s relative degree of cultural consonance and these wellness outcomes and also indirect ones mediated by ‘absorption-immersion’ (defined as the extent that players feel like they are in a virtual world and in some cases actually their character). Overall, we suggest that WOW—and more generally multiplayer online role-playing games (‘MMORPGs’ or ‘MMOs’ for short) of which WOW is one example—can be thought of as cultural-cognitive technologies promoting a partitioned or ‘dissociated’ consciousness (Lynn 2005) in which players can attribute dimensions of self to in-game characters for potential psychological benefit or harm. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
American Psychiatric Association (APA). 2000. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th ed. (Text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Bartle, R. 2003. Designing virtual worlds. New Riders Games.
Bernard, H. R. 2006. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (4th ed.). Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
Bernstein, Eve M. and Frank W. Putnam. 1986. Development, reliability, and validity of a dissociation scale. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 174(12):727–735.
Blizzard Entertainment. 2008 Press release: World of Warcraft Subscriber Base Reaches 11.5 Million Worldwide. http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/press/pressreleases.html?081121. Accessed June 25th, 2010.
Butler, Lisa D. 2006. Normative dissociation. Psychiatric Clinics of North America 29: 45-62.
Castrononva, Edward. 2005. Synthetic worlds: The business and culture of online games. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press.
—-. 2007. Exodus to the virtual world: How online fun is changing reality. New York: Palgrave.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 2008 . Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper and Row.
D’Andrade, Roy. 1995. The development of cognitive anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dressler, W. W., and J. R. Bindon. 2000. The health consequences of cultural consonance: cultural dimensions of lifestyle, social support and arterial blood pressure in an African American community. American Anthropologist 102:244-260.
Holland, Dorothy and Naomi Quinn. 1987. Cultural models in language and thought. London: Cambridge University Press.
Hutchins, Edwin. 1995. Cognition in the wild. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Johnson-Laird, P. N. 1983. Mental models. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Karlson, Kristian Bernt and Holm Anders. 2011. Decomposing primary and secondary effects: A new decomposition method. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 29: 221-237.
Kihlstrom, John F. 2005. Dissociative disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 1: 227–253.
Krippner, Stanley. 1997. Dissociation in many times and places. InBroken images, broken selves: Dissociative narratives in clinical practice. Stanley Krippner and Susan Marie Powers, eds. Pp. 3–40. Washington, DC: Brunner/Mazel.
Lakoff, G. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Luhrmann, Tanya M. 2005. The art of hearing God: Absorption, dissociation, and contemporary American spirituality. Spiritus 5:133-57.
Luhrmann, Tanya M., Nusbaum, Howard, Thisted, Ronald. 2010. The absorption hypothesis: Learning to hear God in evangelical Christianity. American Anthropologist 112(1):66-78.
Lynn, Christopher D.. 2005. Adaptive and maladaptive dissociation: An epidemiological and anthropological comparison and proposition for an expanded dissociation model. Anthropology of Consciousness 16(2):16-49.
Mandler, J. M.. 1984. Stories, scripts, and scenes: Aspects of schema theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Minsky, M.. 1975. A framework for the representation of knowledge. In P. H. Winston, Ed.. The psychology of computer vision. Pp. 121-277. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rosch, E.. 1975. Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of experimental psychology 104: 192-233.
Romney, A. K., Weller, S. C., & Batchelder, W. H.. 1986. Culture as consensus: A theory of culture and informant accuracy. American Anthropologist, 88:313-318.
Romney, A. K., Batchelder, W. H., & Weller, S. C.. 1987. Recent applications of cultural consensus theory. American Behavioral Scientist 31:163-177.
Ross, Norbert. 2006. Culture and cognition: Implications for theory and method. New York: Sage.
Ross, Colin A. 1996. History, phenomenology, and epidemiology of dissociation. InHandbook of dissociation: Theoretical, empirical, and clinical perspectives. Larry K. Michelson and William. J. Ray, eds. Pp. 3–24. New York; London: Plenum.
—-. 1997. Dissociative identity disorder: Diagnosis, clinical features, and treatment of multiple personality. New York: Wiley.
Rumelhart, D. E. 1980. Schemata: The building blocks of cognition. In R. J. Spiro, B. C. Bruce, and W. F. Brewer, Eds., Theoretical issues in reading comprehension. Hillsdale: NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 33-58.
Schank, Roger and Robert Abelson. 1977. Scripts, plans, goals and understanding: An inquiry into human knowledge structures. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Seligman, Rebecca and Laurence Kirmayer. 2008. Dissociative experience and cultural neuroscience: Narrative, metaphor and mechanism. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 32(1):31-64.
Shore, Brad. 1996. Culture and mind: Cognition, culture, and the problem of meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shweder, Richard. 1991. Thinking through cultures: Expeditions in cultural psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
—-. 2003. Why do men barbecue?: Recipes for cultural psychology. Boston, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Snodgrass, Jeffrey G., Michael G. Lacy, H. J. Francois Dengah II, Jesse Fagan, and David Most. 2011a. Magical flight and monstrous stress: Technologies of absorption and mental wellness in Azeroth. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. 35(1):26-62.
Snodgrass, Jeffrey G., Michael G. Lacy, H. J. Francois Dengah II, Jesse Fagan. 2011b. Enhancing one life rather than living two: Playing MMOs with offline friends. Computers in Human Behavior 27(3):1211-1222.
Snodgrass, Jeffrey G., H. J. Francois Dengah II, Michael G. Lacy, Jesse Fagan, David Most, Michael Blank, Lahoma Howard, Chad R. Kershner, Gregory Krambeer, Alissa Leavitt-Reynolds, Adam Reynolds, Jessica Vyvial-Larson, Josh Whaley, Benjamin Wintersteen. 2011c. Restorative magical adventure or Warcrack?: Motivated MMO play and the pleasures and perils of online experience. Games and Culture, Accepted for publication, to appear Jan. 2012, 7(1) (online Fall 2011).
Strauss, Claudia and Naomi Quinn. 1997. A cognitive theory of cultural meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tellegen, A., and G. Atkinson. 1974. Openness to absorbing and self-altering experiences (“absorption”), a trait related to hypnotic susceptibility. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 83:268-277.
UCINET. (v6). Analytic Technologies.
Weller, Susan C.. 2007. Cultural consensus theory: Applications and frequently asked questions.” Field Methods 19(4):339-368.
Weller, Susan. C. and A. K. Romney. 1988. Systematic data collection. Vol. 10 Qualitative Research Methods Series. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Yee, Nick. 2006. The demographics, motivations and derived experiences of users of massively-multiuser online graphical environments. Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 15:309-29.
—-. 2007. Motivations of play in online games. Journal of Cyberpsychology and Behavior 9:772-5.
Young, K. S. 1998a. Internet addiction: Emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 1998; 1(3):237–244.
—- 1998b. Caught in the Net. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
—-. IAT (Internet addiction test). Accessed Nov. 9th, 2009 through: http://www.netaddiction.com/