Masculinity, gaming, friendship and intimacy, and sense of community: a comparison of men in virtual and offline domains
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The purpose of the present study was to investigate possible relationships between masculinity, gaming, friendship/intimacy, and sense of community in online versus offline contexts. A total of 201 men who self-identified as gamers completed the survey. The participant pool was largely young, White, single, middle-class, heterosexual, and educated. Self-identified gamers were recruited via use of undergraduate students who volunteered for course credit and advertisements posted to social media and gaming-related websites. Participants were given a demographic and gaming questionnaire, followed by the Gender Role Conflict scale (O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986), the Miller Social Intimacy scale (modified to measure friend groups online and offline; Miller & Lefcourt, 1982), the Sense of Community Index-2 (Chavis, Lee, & Acosta, 2008), and the Sense of Virtual Community measure (Blanchard, 2007). Canonical correlations, Pearson correlations, z-tests, multiple regressions, and a two-factor repeated MANOVA were run to test hypotheses. Results showed that as gender role conflict increased, so did sense of community offline and friendship and intimacy with offline friends. The researchers found that the relationship between masculinity and friendship and intimacy with offline friends was stronger than between masculinity and sense of friendship and intimacy with online friends. Men with higher masculinity scores also demonstrated stronger relationships among friendship and intimacy and sense of community with their offline friends than with their online friends. The results of this study suggest that friendship and community may be more strongly related to masculinity than was previously thought. The present study’s results also challenge negative associations between masculinity and gaming, and suggest that masculinity may not play a consistent role in online interactions and relationships.