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The influence of ratio-reinforcement on video-gaming behaviour


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Thomas, JE 2015 , 'The influence of ratio-reinforcement on video-gaming behaviour', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The rapid growth in videogame popularity has sparked considerable public and scientific interest regarding the negative effects of increased exposure and prolonged gameplay. Informed primarily by basic operant conditioning principles this study tested the influence of ratio-based schedules of reinforcement on participant video-gaming duration. It was firstly hypothesised that in-game ratio-reinforcement would significantly contribute to longer gameplay duration when compared to a no reward control condition and, secondly, that rewards awarded on a variable-ratio schedule would be more effective at prolonging gameplay than those awarded on a fixed-ratio schedule. Fifty-one participants were assigned to one of the three reinforcement conditions. Each played a puzzle based video game and their gameplay statistics including playing duration, level restarts (indexing persistence following failure) and flow experience were measured. Ratio-reinforcement significantly extended video-gaming duration, and increased persistence following failure, compared to the control condition. Despite a non-significant difference, there was also evidence to suggest the increased effectiveness of variable- over fixed-ratio reinforcement in prolonging gameplay. The current research provides strong initial evidence for the ability of video-game reinforcement to significantly increase gaming duration, and represents an initial step in understanding prolonged and potentially problematic video-game play.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Thomas, JE
Keywords: Video-games, playing time, rewards, operant-conditioning
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Copyright 2015 the author

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