Role playing research before Dungeons and Dragons: what psychologists know about the effects on behavior, body and attitude formation

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch

Role playing games as we know them today evolved as a merging between war games, fantasy literature and, shortly thereafter, historical enactment. Historically, practices akin to role-playing and simulation is quite a bit older as tools for learning or social meaning making, but after the birth of Dungeons and Dragons the hobby community quickly took up this more serious mantle as well. Looking to a few unfortunate cases, and the obvious psychological power of role playing experience, many came to believe that role playing can have a profound psychological impact, but few evidence based studies have been published (for a review, see Lieberoth & Trier-Knudsen, 2015). Sometimes the therapeutic concept of “”Psychodrama”” is evoked as an earlier 20th century case (and suggested efficacy) of role playing as a positive tool for personal and psychological change, but digging a bit deeper, it turns out that early 20th century social psychologists conducted quite a few experiments of the effects of taking on alien roles and perspectives on attitudes and personality (Bowman & Lieberoth, in review). This presentation reviews what a hundred years of forgotten non-gaming psychology studies revealed about the effects of roleplaying – long before LARP and Dungeons and Dragons.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year11 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2017
Event2017 International eduLARP conference - Østerskov Efterskole, Hobro, Denmark
Duration: 10 Apr 201711 Apr 2017
Conference number: 1


Conference2017 International eduLARP conference
LocationØsterskov Efterskole
Internet address

    Research areas

  • LARP, Role-playing, Adult play, Attitude formation, Persuasion, Education, Psychodrama, Social psychology, Experimental psychology

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ID: 111700140