Student Services Overview

DATE: Monday, May 12, 2014
TIME: 1:00 PM
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Andrew Christopher Kami
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Beyond Nature Versus Nurture: The Development of Personality Through Digital Projection"
CHAIR: Dr. Matthew Bennett
READER: Dr. Candace DePuy
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Robert Gordon

Kami, A. (2014). Beyond Nature Versus Nurture: The Development of Personality Through Digital Projection (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014)


This study is an investigation into the expression of personality variables through digital media. Following a review of variables which have been established to influence the expression of personality, including genetic disposition, cultural family of origin theory and group socialization experiences, this ethnographical, quasi-experimental mixed methods study compares personality variables derived from MMPI-2 protocols obtained from participants of online massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). Participants were administered the MMPI-2 at baseline and then again upon asking to assume the role of their online character, responding to the instrument from that perspective. Results indicate that players’ in-game alliances will have an effect on the personality scales. Those who choose to align with the “Horde” faction will display elevated scale scores when compared to their baseline. Those who choose to align with the “Alliance” faction will display an overall decrease in scale score averages.

In addition to the MMPI results, the author utilizes a qualitative research approach to describe and qualify the study subjects’ participation in the digital world. Participant play style while in game affect the personality of the avatar. Those who participate in the Horde faction will display higher levels of psychopathic deviate behavior, paranoia, and hypomania. Those who play Alliance characters will create a character consistent with supporting and helping others; using traits and magic that do not induce fear.

Implications of the study are discussed and explored on a variety of levels. These four levels include an exploration of the theoretical, methodological, clinical and philosophical potentials in the research. Theoretically, the research implies that the development of a well-formed personality with internal consistency can exist in a digital format independent of the player’s own personality. Methodologically, the utilization of assessment tools in varying environments can be successfully applied in ways that track and measure variances outside of its intention. Clinically, there is potential use of digital avatars to explore characteristics and traits in an individual’s personality that would be key to aid and support therapeutically. Finally, this is an exploration of the philosophical implications involved with separate and varying personality traits contained within the same individual.


Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.