Rachel  Kowert Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Rachel Kowert

I recently completed a 2-year post doc with Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt at the University of Münster in Germany as one of the team members working on the large-scale, ERC-project “SOFOGA” (Social Foundations of Online Gaming). My work in this project primarily focused on examining the potential social impact of online video game involvement over time. For more information about me and my research please visit www.rkowert.com


I graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in May 2005 with a B.A. in Psychology. As I always had an interest in psychotherapy, I began looking into various clinical graduate programs shortly after graduation and enrolled the M.A. in Counseling Psychology program at Santa Clara University in 2006. My time at SCU was exceptionally rewarding, both professionally and personally, as it provided me with first-hand experience as to how psychological research can be applied to real-world situations and scenarios. However, it was clear to me early on that I was more interested in pursuing a research-based, rather than a clinical, career in psychology. My supervisor at the time had casually mentioned a recent influx of concern from her clients relating to the potential negative impact of video game use, particularly online video game use. At the time, the research in this area was scarce, which left clinicians with little information to disseminate to their clients. As an online gamer myself, the idea of perusing a PhD research project on this topic intrigued me and I soon began searching for a suitable research-based PhD program.

I was fortunate enough to secure a PhD researcher position at the University of York in York, England. Under the supervision of Dr. Julian Oldmeadow, my work aligned across two branches of inquiry: the cultural stereotype of online gamers and relationship between social (in)competence and online video game involvement. While the first highlighted the centrality of the negative social perceptions of online game players, the second examined the validity of this perception through an assessment of the relationship between video game involvement and social competence. My PhD research projects included survey-based and experimental research designs and led to several international conference presentations and publications in top peer-reviewed journals, such as Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society and Computers In Human Behavior. Recently, my PhD thesis was converted into a research monograph, entitled Video games and social competence, and published by Routledge in December 2014.

I recently completed a 2-year post doctoral position working with Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt at the University of Münster in Germany as an associate researcher for the large-scale, ERC-project “SOFOGA” (Social Foundations of Online Gaming). SOFOGA was a three-year project examining a range of game-related variables among a representative German sample and remains the largest EU-funded games research project to date. My work in this project focused on examining the potential inter- and intra-personal social impact of online video game involvement. This primarily involved enlisting cross-sectional and longitudinal approaches to survey-based and experimental research designs within large data sets. During my time at Münster, I gave numerous talks at international conferences on my work in this project as well as published several articles in top peer-reviewed journals such as Computers in Human Behavior and Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Through the course of my work on SOFOGA, I gained experience with a range of advanced quantitative data analysis techniques, including moderated and mediated regression analyses and cross-lagged path analysis via structural equation modeling.

I currently hold board positions within the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) and the International Communication Association (ICA) Game Studies SIG. Through my participation within these organizations over the last few years, I have spearheaded several projects aimed to improve the available resources for early career scholars, such as the creation of a student-centric special interest group of DiGRA (for more information visit www.digrastudents.org) and the re-development of Ludodemia, a database for games-related research.


    PhD Psychology, University of York, 2014
    MA Counseling Psychology, Santa Clara University, 2005

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Research Interests
    My research interests are largely focused on the potential positive and negative social impact of mediated communication at the individual level. Specifically, I am interested in developing a greater understanding of the uses, applications, and impacts of mediated socialization (e.g., online games, social networking websites, chat rooms, etc.) on ones’ inter- and intra-personal social and psychological well-being, particularly among socially vulnerable populations (e.g., socially anxious, lonely, geographically isolated, etc.). I am also interested in further exploring the potential for mediated social outlets to be enlisted as platforms for behavioral therapies (such as social skills training for the socially inhibited or anxious) and the relationships between video game play motivations, enjoyment, and satisfaction through the perspective of self-determination theory.

    Currently, my research is primarily focused on the social impact of online games. This includes addressing the anecdotal claim that online game players are socially different/deficient as compared to offline or non-players, examining the impact of online video game play on offline friendship networks, and evaluating the tangible social benefits of online game play. My work in this area also aims to uncover the potential origin of any social differences (e.g., social compensation, displacement, or augmentation processes) by enlisting various methodological and statistical approaches.

    In addition to my individual scientific pursuits, I am interested in uncovering new approaches to disseminating scientific information in ways that are accessible, understandable, and relatable to non-scientific audiences.

    Current Projects
    Reconceptualising “video game involvement”
    Cross-cultural examination of perceptions of violence and sexuality in video games
    Systematic review of the impact of online video game involvement on social outcomes



Featured Title
 Featured Title - Video Games and Social Competence; Kowert - 1st Edition book cover


Computers in Human Behavior

Psychosocial causes and consequences of online video game play

Published: Mar 12, 2015 by Computers in Human Behavior
Authors: Kowert, R., Vogelgesang, J., Festl, R., & Quandt, T.
Subjects: Media and Cultural Studies, Psychological Science, Communication Studies

Highlights •The psychosocial causes and consequences of online video game play were evaluated. •Over a 1- and 2-year period, evidence for social compensation processes were found. •Among young adults, online games appear to be socially compensating spaces. •No significant displacement or compensation patterns were found for adolescents. •No significant displacement or compensation patterns were found for older adults.