McDermott study

(Note: The password you were given is not needed.)

Thank you very much for your participation in the study “Game play experiences and social beliefs” (protocol H18-136) that took place in the Arjona Video Game Lab this semester. As you were made aware of immediately following your session, the person against whom you were playing was part of the study and was acting from a script. By a random coin flip, you were placed in either the control condition or the treatment condition. In the control condition, your opponent delivered a script that included comments about being hungry or about various aspects of the video game, Mario Kart. In the treatment condition, your opponent delivered a “trash talk” script that included verbally aggressive comments directed toward you and your game play.

We sincerely hope that you were not upset by the deception or by anything that was said to you as part of the study. As noted above, your placement into a condition was completely random, so you should not take anything that was said to you personally. Unfortunately the deception was necessary in order to get your authentic reaction to either script.

As you may be aware, trash talk is defined as “disparaging, taunting, or boastful comments especially between opponents trying to intimidate each other” in a competitive setting (Merriam-Webster). This study was an effort to understand how trash talk affects competitors, and to this end, we explored variables related to how your attention and emotions were affected by various levels of verbal distraction, and how those in turn affected your game performance. Your contribution to this research has been invaluable, and we appreciate that you took the time to help us better under understand how verbally aggressive communication in competition can mentally and emotionally affect opponents.

If you have any additional questions about this research, please contact Karen Piantek McDermott at You may also ask to receive a copy of the study results once they are fully analyzed. Thank you again for your time!

Principal Investigator: Kenneth Lachlan

Student Investigator: Karen Piantek McDermott