Misbehavior in virtual worlds: breaking the rules for social benefit

Shiflett, Kevin, author
Martey, Rosa Mikeal, advisor
Champ, Joseph, committee member
Folkestad, James, committee member
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This thesis uses Gidden's (1984) Structuration Theory as a guiding framework for examining the causes and consequences of misbehavior in virtual worlds. Misbehavior is clearly delineated from more commonly studied cheating behaviors to examine the possibility that certain unintended behaviors (those that break coded rules, semiotic rules, and emerging social norms) may be productive and even beneficial behaviors for social groups in online spaces. Data was gathered at a private island within Second Life as part of the larger SCRIBE project. Therefore, this thesis conducted a secondary analysis of qualitative data and found that participants were primarily able to misbehave by transgressing boundaries created by structures of domination, legitimation, and signification if the group identity of detective trainees was salient over the individual identities of present participants. Such findings are consistent with the social identity model of deinviduation effects (Lea & Spears, 1991). Further findings are discussed in detail using supporting literature and theory.
2019 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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