Serious Efforts at Bias Reduction: The Effects of Digital Games and Avatar Customization on Three Cognitive Biases

Adrienne Shaw, Kate Kenski, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Rosa Mikeal Martey, Benjamin A. Clegg, Joanna E. Lewis, James E. Folkestad, Tomek Strzalkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


As research on serious games continues to grow, we investigate the efficacy of digital games to train enhanced decision making through understanding cognitive biases. This study investigates the ability of a 30-minute digital game as compared with a 30-minute video to teach people how to recognize and mitigate three cognitive biases: fundamental attribution error, confirmation bias, and bias blind spot. We investigate the effects of character customization on learning outcomes as compared with an assigned character. We use interviews to understand the qualitative differences between the conditions. Experimental results suggest that the game was more effective at teaching and mitigating cognitive biases than was the training video. Although interviews suggest players liked avatar customization, results of the experiment indicate that avatar customization had no significant effect on learning outcomes. This research provides information future designers can use to choose the best medium and affordances for the most effective learning outcomes on cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Media Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • character customization
  • cognitive biases
  • digital games
  • educational games
  • game characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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