The Impact of Social Proof on Moral Decision-Making in Video Games


When we make ethical decisions in everyday life, our choices are often influenced by what we see others doing around us. In psychology, this phenomenon is known as social proof. When we are uncertain about what to do, we are likely to follow the crowd, especially if we identify with them. In this study, we examine how this behaviour extends to video games, and how it is influenced by other design factors such as time-limited decisions. We present the results of a quantitative study of player behaviour in a visual-novel game The Great Fire. Before making a decision, players are presented with statistics showing what other players chose. We manipulated these figures to display different choices as popular, under timed and untimed conditions. We present preliminary work-in-progress results that suggest that players are indeed influenced to follow the crowd when facing an ambiguous moral decision, but can also show unexpected behaviour when faced with the non-moral choice of calling a coin flip.

CHI PLAY ‘21 Extended Abstracts of the 2021 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
Vedant Sansare
Vedant Sansare
Doctoral Student in Game Design and Computing

My research interests include systems-based game design, moral decision-making and recently I have been interested in games for mental and physical health.