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The relationship between individual differences and human territoriality, within a simulated environment

Parkin, Lee David


Lee David Parkin


Paul A. Skarratt


Territoriality is defined as the acquisition of land or resources, such as food or mates, and securing these resources from actual or perceived threat. Many animals show differences in the expression of territoriality based on sex and personality differences, this study examined the extent these factors mediate territoriality usage, and what form it expresses itself in human participants. First gender (as identified by self-report questionnaire) and personality (scores attained from the Big Five Inventory Questionnaire), were examined, and how this altered in game territorial behaviours. It was found that females tended to use more non-aggressive territorial behaviours than males, and displayed a greater number of overall territorial behaviours than males. These results are consistent with an evolutionary theory of territoriality, whereby females tend towards more passive territorial behaviours, as opposed to males who tend towards more aggressive territoriality. Surprisingly, males did not show this inverse relation of increased aggressive territorial behaviours within this simulation.

Secondly, power asymmetries were examined between avatars, based on predictions by Game Theory. It was found that participants assigned to smaller avatars displayed significantly more withdrawing behaviours in general, and in particular towards larger avatars, as compared to the individuals controlling larger avatars. Furthermore smaller avatars used more passive territorial behaviours than larger avatars. This is consistent with a Game Theory approach to territoriality.

Finally winner and loser effects were examined in how they mediate emotional word usage in a short storytelling activity. It was found that low survival time is the best predictor of negative emotional word usage, and as survival time increase, negative emotional word usage decreased.


Parkin, L. D. (2017). The relationship between individual differences and human territoriality, within a simulated environment. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Psychology
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
Award Date Feb 1, 2017


Thesis (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Parkin, Lee David. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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