Cyber security
Male video game players who have lower game skills are more likely to harass women online, a new study found. Reuters

A new study confirms what many already know as fact: men who are more likely to harass women online are more likely to have problems of their own.

The study, conducted by Michael Kasumovic of the University of New South Wales and Jeffrey Kuznekoff of Miami University, looked at how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3. The results were published in the journal PLOS.

According to the Washington Post, researchers found that male participants, no matter their skill level or how the game was going, were fairly cordial to one another in comments made to one another. The study revealed that that male players who were good at the game were also more likely to give other male and female players compliments.

However, less-skilled male players who did not perform as well as their peers were more likely to make frequent and rude comments towards female players.

Kasumovic told the Post that using video games were great stand-in for studying real-life behaviour, especially other Internet websites where people communicate. The researcher said that the recent influx of female participants has shaken up the pre-existing social hierarchy.

"As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status," Kasumovic wrote, "the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female's performance and suppress her disturbance on hearty to retain their social rank."

The Washington Post noted that these results are not a surprise. A recent Pew report found that 40% of internet users have reported experiencing harassment. The Pew report found that while both genders experience bullying, women are more likely to bear the brunt of the abuse.

Women are "particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking," Pew found.