Sparty & “Sparthan”

Prioritizing the health and well-being of sexual assault survivors has been a salient and controversial issue for Michigan State University’s administration. To this end, this study utilizes a virtual environment to examine whether sports culture at MSU relates to attitudes about sex-based issues on campus — including the rape myth, sexual assault, sexism, and misogyny — as well as campus pride toward MSU as a whole. The experiment explores this question through the Proteus Effect, the phenomenon that avatar users tend conform behaviorally to their avatars’ characteristics. During the study, users are randomly assigned to play as either Sparty or a less muscular look-alike in simple color variants. Specifically, we test whether participants — after playing as Sparty in a virtual environment — exhibit more misogynistic or apathetic attitudes towards sex-based issues than those who played as other variants.

This project was presented at Michigan State University’s undergraduate research forum (UURAF). It won a first place award in its category.

I was the sole programmer for this project. My contributions included the experience flow, meaning when interaction boxes would appear and disappear, taking “pictures,” switching the fan models standing next to Sparty, and being able to tell if Sparty’s hand is in the correct place. I also collected timing data through code, as this was being used for research.

This project was developed using C# in Unity.