3 min read

Personality Traits & Performance

Personality Traits & Performance
Hello friends,

another Sunday, meaning another dose of Gaming Science. In today’s episode, "The Association Between Personality Traits and eSports Performance" is not just the title of the article we’ll be looking at, but it's also at the center of interest. Does a player’s personality have an impact on gaming performance? If so, which traits are associated with better performance?

📜 The Study

As you can probably imagine, personality traits are an individual – besides team, and organizational/environmental - factor that can influence performance directly or indirectly. (If you want to get an overview of the different levels of factors, I refer to this article explaining it.)

In the study (Matuszewski et al., 2020) at hand, 1,697 LoL players were surveyed, with only 206 completing the questionnaire completely. The participants were asked about their nicknames so the researcher could then gather performance data from them and also completed a personality traits test (included in the questionnaire).

Let’s talk about the results of the study. The two main findings are 1) personality traits of LoL players are associated with performance, 2) meaning scoring higher or lower in certain traits leads to better gaming performance (ranking).

Regarding 2), the traits extraversion, agreeableness, and openness to experience are the traits that distinguished higher from lower ranked players. The better performing LoL players scored:
  • lower in extraversion (more solitary and reserved, gaining less energy from external means),
  • higher in openness to experience (curious, appreciative of art and emotions, having a good imagination and unusual ideas), and
  • lower in agreeableness (critical and rational, less compassionate and friendly).

"Interestingly, due to the team-based nature of LoL gameplay, one may expect that the traits of extraversion and agreeableness relate positively to performance. […] Lower agreeableness and extraversion in the higher division group may be explained by the fact that the ranking is measured by individual performance. It may be possible that players who are highly focused on themselves during the game and do everything to “carry the game” on their own are more successful." – Matuszewski et al., 2020

🚧 Implications & Limitations

These results indicate that there might be differences between casual (single) players and professional (team) players. Are pro gamers more agreeable and extroverted, because playing in a team is fundamentally different and requires more team-focused traits? Do professional players have the same traits, because in order to get drafted into a professional team, you’ll have to climb the ladder first, meaning less agreeableness and extraversion is better? Well, we just don’t know yet.

"Another point made by the authors is that in the present study, only one game within one particular genre was examined. It would be of great interest to see if the personality correlates of performance differ between types of games." – Matuszewski et al., 2020
Just because something might be the case for LoL players, it does not mean that it’s the same for SC2, CS2, or other games. Also, we don’t know the direction yet, meaning do personality traits impact performance, or does performance (the game) shape your personality? I assume that this relationship is bidirectional – they play ping pong and influence each other over time, especially at a young age.

💡 We have seen that certain personality traits are linked to better performance. We also know that personality traits are usually fixed and at best hard to change. As a result, some players may have the dream of being a professional player one day, but because of their prerequisites, they are fighting an uphill or even a lost battle.

Some players just aren’t “made” or just “don’t have it” in them to be a pro gamer. Though this might be a hard pill to swallow, it is important to acknowledge this fact. Image a 1.85m (6.07) gymnast. He may be good, but he’ll never be an Olympic gold medal winner because he’s just too tall. Or he might not have the motivation and focus that is required over many years. It’s the same in gaming and Esports – and that’s okay - not everybody can be a winner.

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Hope ya'll have a great week.

~Christian 🙂

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