The Psychological Roots of Societal Self Harm: Mass Participation Experiments

Parklife: A mass participation experiment into the psychological roots of societal self harm

Collective acts of societal self-harm, ranging from littering to rioting, have been studied extensively from a sociological and political perspective, but it has proved difficult to investigate them from a psychological perspective because of the practical challenges involved in experimentally manipulating the behaviour of a large number of individuals interacting in real time.

This project will develop a mass participation game, Parklife, that can be played online or amongst large groups of people, in which teams of players can develop or vandalise a virtual park. By engaging hundreds of people and manipulating factors within the game - shown by previous research to drive societal self- harm - the researchers aim to produce causal experimental evidence that will complement existing scholarship and make an important contribution to the ongoing policy debate on the effects of social inequality.