Profiling ethics orientation through play

Carlos Pereira Santos, Vassilis Javed Khan, Panos Markopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Research studies and recruitment processes often rely on psychometric instruments to profile respondents with regards to their ethical orientation. Completing such questionnaires can be tedious and is prone to self-presentation bias. Noting how video games often expose players to complex plots, filled with dilemmas and morally dubious options, the opportunity emerges to evaluate player’s moral orientation by analysing their in-game behaviour. In order to explore the feasibility of such an approach, we examine how users’ moral judgment correlates with choices they make in non-linear narratives, frequently present in video games. An interactive narrative presenting several moral dilemmas was created. An initial user study (N = 80) revealed only weak correlations between the users’ choices and their ethical inclinations in all ethical scales. However, by training a genetic algorithm on this data set to quantify the influence of each branch on recognising moral inclination we found a strong positive correlation between choice behaviour and self-reported ethical inclinations on a second independent group of participants (N = 20). The contribution of this work is to demonstrate how genetic algorithms can be applied in interactive stories to profile users’ ethical stance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926-935
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour & Information Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2018


  • ethics
  • game design
  • Games user research
  • genetic algorithm
  • moral judgment


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