Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 213–218 | Cite as

Social Workers’ Perceptions of the Association Between Role Playing Games and Psychopathology

  • Menachem Ben-Ezra
  • Eric Lis
  • Agata Błachnio
  • Lia Ring
  • Osnat Lavenda
  • Michal Mahat-Shamir
Original Paper


Whereas role-playing and table-top role-play games (RPGs) have been proven to have potential as therapeutic tools, playing RPGs is often stereotypically associated with social incompetence and psychiatric disorders. Knowledge regarding the stereotype and its implications is very scarce specifically among mental health practitioners. Therefore the present study aimed to narrow this gap in knowledge by examining the perception of Social Workers that are considered to be the forefront of mental health-care, in regard to the association between playing RPGs and mental health. A convenience sample of 130 Social Workers, recruited through social networks (e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp etc.), responded to an on-line survey dealing with their perception of their own knowledge on RPGs, the importance of such knowledge and the association between playing RPGs and mental illness. Results indicated an association between having higher knowledge of RPGs and lower perception of a link between playing RPGs and psychopathology. The study’s findings emphasize the false stigma and its potential harmful implication on professionals’ practice, especially in the context of intake process and primary diagnostic. The effect of familiarity is also discussed in light of the study’s findings.


• The perception of mental health professionals toward role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons is understudied.

• Social Workers' perception was measured in regard to the connection between use of RPGs and DSM-IV-TR psychopathology.

• Greater knowledge of RPGs was found to be associated with lower perception of the connection between use of RPGs and DSM-IV-TR psychopathology.


Social workers Role playing games Dungeons & Dragons 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Menachem Ben-Ezra
    • 1
  • Eric Lis
    • 2
  • Agata Błachnio
    • 3
  • Lia Ring
    • 1
  • Osnat Lavenda
    • 1
  • Michal Mahat-Shamir
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkAriel UniversityArielIsrael
  2. 2.McGill University Psychiatry Perceptions of Emerging Technologies LabsMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Institute of PsychologyThe John Paul II Catholic University of LublinLublinPoland

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