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Roleplayers and Self-Monitoring

Many people who engage in roleplay take on a variety of different personas and characters. Many times they go out of their way to dress, talk and sometimes even think as these personas. The question becomes are these people, who so often change personas, more likely to be self-monitors, people who adjust to fit the group around them? This project is an attempt to show that roleplayers are more likely to be high self-monitors then the population as a whole, and those who engage in roleplaying more often are higher self-monitors. There has also been little research done into the population of roleplayers.

Snyder (1972) hypothesized that people either have an acute sensitivity to those around them, or they are lacking this ability. The ability to be sensitive to the group is what Snyder coined as “Self-Monitoring”. Snyder also tested this theory on Stage Actors, comparing their results to students at Stanford. He found that Stage Actors had higher scores on his self-monitoring scale then the students. However, it is important to keep in mind that groups form their own little subcultures, and people normally act a little differently between the normal culture and their down subcultures (Triandis, 1989).

The hypothesis, that roleplayers are more likely to be high self-monitors then university students and that people who roleplay more often are higher self-monitors, seems to be consistent with Snyder and his tests on Stage Actors. Roleplayers, especially those who engage in Live Action Role Play, are often very similar to Stage Actors, nor is it uncommon to see people who are involved with theater to be Roleplayers. This project just looks at a group that has not generally had these types of studies done, and differs in the fact that not everyone involved with roleplay is involved with stage work. This is important to study because as times change, more and more people have turned to roleplaying, formally engaged in only by so called ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’.


Participants.This study has 80 participants, of which 34 are students in a Psych 305 class and the remaining 46 are from a local Live Action Roleplay Troupe.

Materials.This study used a survey. The survey contained Snyder’s Self-Monitoring Scale and a set of screener questions designed by the researchers. The Self-Monitoring scale gives back a number from 0 to 25, where the higher the number, the higher the self-monitoring. The screener questions give back a yes/no result. There are also some more in depth questions for roleplayers, designed by the researchers to determine how long roleplayers engage in roleplaying.

Design.This study is done with a quasi-experimental design as the groups will be preformed based off of whether or not a participant is a roleplayer. The two different groups, roleplayers and non-roleplayers will each be given the survey once and then their results compared against the other group. Roleplayers will have questions regarding how long they play compared against other roleplayers. The IV is the amount of roleplaying. The DV is the self-monitoring score.

Procedure. Each participant was given an identical survey which included Snyder’s Self-monitoring scale, and a group of questions designed to determine if the person is a roleplayer and how much time they roleplay. This allowed for the exclusion of people who play Video Games but allow for people who do Live Action Roleplay and Tabletop Roleplay. The total survey time took no longer then half an hour. The survey was scored according to the scale and then each group will be averaged out. The two totals were then compared. The roleplaying group also had their scores sorted by how often they roleplay and the results compared to other roleplayers.

Predictions. The hypothesis for this study is that Roleplayers have higher self-monitoring scores then non-roleplayers and the roleplayers who engage in roleplay more also have higher scores (causal).


The hypothesis that people who roleplay have higher self-monitoring scores then non-roleplayers and those roleplayers who engage in roleplay more also have higher scores is consistent with the data. The mean rating for the Roleplayers (M=14.22) was greater then the rating for non-Roleplayers (M=12.25), p<0.05 (figure one). Roleplayers who engaged in Roleplaying more often did not show a significant difference from each other(p>0.05).


People who roleplay more and who are roleplayers are more likely to adjust how they act and react depending the group they are with, then those who do not game at all. The results here imply that roleplayers, for one reason or another, are likely to adjust to fit themselves into groups. People who study subgroups might be interested in these results because roleplayers are a huge subgroup of the population and are rarely studied. Methodological weakness included the fact that some people did not complete the survey or answered multiple answers for a true or false question. Another weakness is that there is no promise that people are answering how they really act. There is also the fact that this was a very small study (less then 100 subjects) and that roleplayers were tested within their environment and may have been influenced by other roleplayers. These are hard issues to over come, but perhaps someone explaining how important it is to give only one answer to multiple choice questions, answering how you truly act, and how important the study is might help with this issue, isolating people taking the test so they are less susceptible to other influences. It might be a good idea to conduct further personality based research with roleplayer. Overall it appears that there might be more difference between those who choose to roleplay then those who choose not to, and that people who do choose to roleplay more might have a difference then those who roleplay less.


Snyder, M. (1974). Self-Monitoring of expressive behavior.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526-537.

Triandis, H. C. (1989). The self and social behavior in differing contexts.Psychological Review, 96, 506-520.

Figure 1. Roleplayers and Students self monitoring scores.