Date of Award

Spring 2014

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Christina M. Frederick, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Stephen Dedmon, J.D.

Second Committee Member

Amy Bradshaw Hoppock, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Jason Kring, Ph.D.


Intrinsically motivated behavior is defined as a behavior that is performed for pure enjoyment (Ryan, Rigby & Przybylski, 2006). Video game playing is a form of intrinsically motivated behavior (Frederick & Ryan, 1995). Popular media commonly claims the act of playing video games leads individuals to behave in deviant and antisocial ways outside the confines of the gaming environment (Grossman & Christensen, 2008). Psychopathy is a primary feature of Antisocial Personality Disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), and psychopathic criminals commit the greatest variety of crimes and more crimes of any type than the average criminal (Lynam, Whiteside & Jones, 1999,). The present study assessed 80 male college students on their level of psychopathy and the virtual crimes they committed while playing Grand Theft Auto IV to determine if game players with naturally high levels of psychopathy performed differently than their non-psychopathic counterparts, and subsequently to determine if the crimes committed during game play were modified and/or qualified by psychopathic scores. Correlational analysis revealed psychopathy scores positively relate to virtual crimes against people, but not to crimes against property. Results also showed that virtual crimes against property were negatively correlated to the intrinsic motivation subscale of Relatedness, with crimes against people having no significant self-reported intrinsic motivational outcome. A regression analysis revealed the subscale of Effort/Importance positively related to the psychopathy scores of the participants. Results are reasonably set forth in the vastly unexplored environment of human behavior, motivation, and expectations in video gaming.