Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Research on video games, social media, and computer games has focused on specific social characteristics such as violence, communication, and social isolation. Most aspects of virtual world gaming and online relationships are considered inferior, if not damaging, to those who spend time on these platforms. Virtual relationships are often considered secondary to traditional relationships. Such relationships are seen as replacements for traditional friendships, leading to research focusing on replacement rather than value. Little research focuses on how a virtual world friendship compares to a traditional friendship and the value it may serve to individuals in the relationship. The present study uses an Aristotelian definition of friendship to explore the differences in characteristics between virtual world friendships and traditional friendships to determine if virtual world relationships can have the same value as traditional ones. Friendship characteristics of mutual well-being, self-expression, and shared experiences were measured via an online survey that included 223 participants from a midwestern university and Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants reporting for traditional friendships indicated higher levels of ego support, self-affirmation, mutual well-being, satisfaction, and self-disclosure demonstrating deeper levels of friendship, however, personalized interest and concern was not found to differ between friendship types. Furthermore, duration of friendships was found to be positively related to self-disclosure and negatively related to measures of tension. These findings demonstrate that although traditional friendships and virtual friendships share common characteristics, traditional friendships reach a deeper level of friendship than virtual world friendships.


Dr. Janett Naylor-Tincknell

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type



© 2023 Samantha C. Baires


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Psychology Commons