Study confirms that sexist men are losers

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Hey now, not all of us “low-status, non-dominant men” harass women!


At first I thought “…I’m not a loser”, but then I read the headline again.


I just had that conversation with my 13 year old niece!

What a coincidence?


When high-status, dominant men do it, it’s just flirtation.


Seems to be that the suggestion is that BECAUSE they are losers, they BECOME sexist.

It’d be a point in favor of a positive-reinforcement-based antidote to hostile sexism - if they feel less like losers, they will become less sexist.

Which sort of explains why feminists get the brunt of the assault - rather than making these losers feel better about themselves, they make these losers feel WORSE about themselves (an entirely justifiable response).

I’d bet you’d find similar correlation with racism and other forms of bigotry: the rich aren’t so scared that they’re very concerned with their place in the hierarchy, but the poor, the harscrabble, the people that should be allies…they all hate each other.

It’s not an excuse, of course (people can choose to be otherwise), but it is an explanation, and one I find compelling. It indicates that the fight isn’t in shaming the bigots, but in making that bigotry less rewarding or necessary.


Also, “low-status, non-dominant men” are primarily interested in ethics in gaming journalism.


In summary and conclusion, we cannot depend upon sexists to defend us from the alien threat.

This paper must have really tested the authors’ ability to produce dispassionate social-science prose while thinking NECKBEARDS really loudly.


More interesting to me is the graph of positive comments vs difference in skill level–men are vastly more likely to compliment a woman’s skill when they feel their own skill is significantly superior to hers. God forbid you enter a man’s “turf” and outperform him.


I noticed the same. I’d like to see a comparison with the same test subjects in a scenario where the men who are good at Halo 3 are put in a situation where they have to perform any activity that they suck at and see if they statistically look like the losers from this study. Would they maintain a high level of compliments for others if they were losing a lot?


While I mostly agree with your sentiment, we need to be careful not to oversimplify the problem. There are likely many underlying causes, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive, to these kinds of problems, and this study points to one possibility.

Also, drawing parallels with other forms of discrimination/bigotry might not be helpful, as the root causes could be completely different.

That said, I agree that there is something to be learned from this study, and future ones, about how to deal with this kind of behaviour.


I like that the headline confirms to the biases I want to see realized in the world, but a couple of problems.

We thus argue that our results best support an evolutionary explanation of female-directed aggression.

Unclear what “evolutionary” means here. It doesn’t mean that the high-skill / low-sexist male HALO players had more offspring or made better dads, because they didn’t match these gamers to real-world people to know that. So is the “evolutionary explanation” implying then that the sexist taunting of women is an inherited trait that co-occurs with being a loser? How do they rule out the general sexist culture, and the specific practice of trash talk, as having less of an effect than genes? Seems to be an interesting study methodology being hampered by evo-psych theorycrafting.

Also unclear when the dataset was collected. This study references a prior study for the data collection, but specifics of that are behind a paywall. That prior study was published in Sept 2012, so, what if the data was collected in 2010? That would be 3 years after Halo 3 was released in 2007. Let me say this politely, anyone still playing a multiplayer HALO match 3 years after launch would put themself in a self-selected group. The authors could at least point that out as a limitation.*

*Pet peeve: any social science pub that doesn’t use the word “limitation” at all is hubristic.


Some boys just aren’t raised right or in an environment with a strong woman showing them that women can be dominant too.

If it wasn’t for my ex I would have never unlocked 100% in Red Dead Redemption. Gotta’ respect women gamers.


I genuinely enjoy boingboing right up until the point where they latch on to the SJW bullshit which seems to be all the time these days. We get it, men are assholes, women are eternal victims and anyone who disagrees is obviously misogynistic pond scum.


Well, that’s a totally fair summary of the situation… Can’t see your prejudices colouring it at all.


Someone’s just upset that they’re a loser.


I play soccer at 54 and occasionally our teams play women’s teams (the majority of these teams are mid to late 20s) and I don’t see the kind of conflicts described in gamer culture.

Maybe our guys are too old for such bullshit.

Mostly by half time we’re up by four or five, so we mix the teams up and finish the games for fun.

Like adults.


I suppose that this is the less-rosy implication of the ‘harassment is for losers’ thesis: that the winners aren’t so much being wonderful people as they are turning on the charm in order to follow up on their perceived high status. Still less noxious than harassment; but Master Chief may have been white knighting in this situation.


This study obviously doesn’t provide us with the sorts of background data required to asses ‘loserdom’ more broadly; but I do find it rather interesting that the effect is apparently so robust purely within the confines of a Halo 3 session.

I would have expected that people’s self-perceived status, as carried over from the rest of their day, would have substantially confounded the game-specific effects. Someone coming in from a day at the bottom of the high school totem pole would (in my naive expectation) be nursing a sense of low status that even a string of really pleasing needler kills probably couldn’t erase. I would have assumed that this might lead to compensatory high-achieving bad sportsmanship; while somebody coming in from a great day of affirmation and success would hopefully be able to bask magnanimously even if they are playing poorly.

Was this effect damped by most players coming to the game at a roughly similar level(because they’d be drinking if they felt worse and socializing if they felt better)? Does the design of the game simply have sufficient emotional valence that it successfully overrides outside considerations? Did they get a relatively lucky sample?