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Study examines how moral choices in games influence players

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Players who did make immoral choices admitted to greater guilt

Players tend to make moral decisions and not let guilt affect their experience, according to a recent study published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking journal.

The study, conducted by Indiana University Ph.D student Andrew Weaver and graduate student Nicky Lewis, examined how players make decisions in morality-based games and how they respond emotionally to their choices. Seventy-five Indiana students between the ages of 18 and 24 filled out a moral foundations questionnaire and then played through Fallout 3's opening in the Vault.

According to the study's results, more than half the players didn't make even one "antisocial" choice, and when provoked, did not engage in violence. Of the 75 participants, 51 claimed to have made the same choices they'd make in real life.

Players who did make immoral choices admitted to greater guilt, although this didn't affect their enjoyment of the game.

According to PsychCentral, Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D, M.B.A., and the journal's editor-in-chief, called research using games "an important tool for the assessment of behavior."

"These findings indicate how real the virtual world can become when one suspends disbelief and immerses oneself in the scenario," said Wiederhold.