Playing “Halo” Proves Men Bully Women Because Of Social Hierarchy

by Samantha Baumgartner

How can we prove gender inequality really exists? By playing Halo 3, of course.

Jeff Kuznekoff, an assistant professor at Miami University, and Michael Kasumovic, an evolutionary biologist for UNSW Australia, teamed up to conduct a study measuring bullying and gender. In order to accurately get the information they wanted, the popular first-person shooter game, Halo 3, was used.

If you are unfamiliar with the game, the process is simple: players from around the world can log onto a “live” account to play as a team against other teams. The more kills you make, the higher your ranking becomes and vice versa. Also available is the option to use a headset and converse with your team.

Kasumovic and Kuznekoff noted that “women receive up to 10 times more negative comments than men in online chatrooms and three times the negativity when playing online games,” thus predicting the lower a woman ranked on Halo, the more negative comments she would receive.

And they were right.


Kuznekoff would alternate using recorded male and female voices while he played. During the times he performed with the male recording, players generally made positive comments. When he switched over to the female recording, the negative comments skyrocketed, especially from the players who ranked low.

It’s obvious what’s happening here. For so long, our society has been dominated by the male presence and state-of-mind. The stigma of losing to a girl has yet become extinct, thus bullying a woman is one way for a man to maintain status (even when he ranks low).

Though the obvious part has been uncovered, there are still questions waiting to be answered. For instance, during their study, Kuznekoff and Kasumovic found that men who ranked the highest were more supportive towards the female recording than the men who ranked below them.

They ask, “Are these nice guys behaving this way because they have nothing to fear and are applauding a woman’s entry into the field? Or is it because they have nothing to fear, for now. Would they become more aggressive if they felt threatened? Or are they comfortable in their ability that losing to a woman wouldn’t bother them.”

Though the answers are still unclear, the hours of gaming are far from over.

Original article via PsyPost

Photo via Halo.


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