Kipling D. Williams



Back to Home Page Click here for media reports on Cyberball paradigm used in Science article by Eisenberger, Lieberman, & Williams (2003).


CYBERBALL. I have a free downloadable program called "Cyberball" that can be used in research on ostracism, social exclusion, rejection, bullying, discrimination, etc. We are happy to announce a new improved version of Cyberball (Cyberball 5.0). This upgrade was funded by NSF award 1339160. John Downing is the programmer, and we encourage researchers to give this a try and give us feedback as to how it is working for you. Andy Hales co-developed it. Here are the details:


You can find it at this link:

Follow the instructions provided at this link to download the Cyberball configuration application, the Windows desktop version of the Cyberball game, and the manual. The online version of the game does not need to be downloaded or installed.


Some of its new features include:


1. Up to 9 player games

2. Simple user interface to create any custom schedules with custom throws and custom in-game messages, etc.

3. The custom messages may be a method for manipulating self-disclosure. You can also manipulate the game's overall welcome message.

4. Stand-alone mode, integration with Qualtrics or integration with MediaLab.

5. Custom player colors/player images/and game background

6. Ability to simulate conversation between players.

7. Game can be run on Windows in a desktop environment or completely online.

8. Online version no longer requires researcher to have their own web server.

9. The same configuration file can be used on the Windows desktop version and in the online version. This configuration file can also easily be shared with colleagues.

10. The configuration application and the web version of the game now auto-update making it easy for researchers to access the latest version of Cyberball.


A manual covering these new features and more can be downloaded at:


Please feel free to email John directly with questions or feedback, or to report a bug.



History of Cyberball and Previous Versions (1, 2, 3, and 4)

For previous versions (v. 1, 2, and 3), I would like to thank the University of New South Wales School of Psychology, Macquarie University's Department of Psychology, and Purdue University's Department of Psychological Sciences, the Australian Research Council, and the National Science Foundation for their assistance in funding Cyberball updates. For Cyberball 4, I'd like to thank David Yeager (now at UTexas-Austin) who developed it.

Cyberball is a virtual ball-toss game that can be used for research on ostracism, social exclusion, or rejection. It has also been used to study discrimination and prejudice (in these instances, Cyberball ball toss choices are used as Dependent Variable). A current list of publications thathave used Cyberball can be found here.

Cyberball was originally developed by Christopher Cheung and Wilma Choi as part of their honours theses under the supervision of Kip Williams, and resulted in the following publication:

     Williams, K. D., Cheung, C. K. T., & Choi, W. (2000). CyberOstracism: Effects of being ignored over the Internet. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 748-762.

In that article, we investigated the effects of ostracism on four fundamental needs (belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence
), and mood, and on subsequent conformity levels.

Subequently, upgraded versions were developed by Blair Jarvis of Empirisoft (, and is described in this article:

     Williams, K. D., & Jarvis, B. (2006). Cyberball: A program for use in research on ostracism and interpersonal acceptance. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 38, 174-180.

Cyberball ball-toss game is a virtual analogue to the face-to-face ball-toss game employed in the following articles:

Warburton, W. A., Williams, K. D., & Cairns, D. R. (2006). When ostracism leads to aggression: The moderating effects of control deprivation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 213-220.

Williams, K. D., & Sommer, K. L. (1997). Social ostracism by one’s coworkers: Does rejection lead to loafing or compensation? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 693-706.

These earlier versions of Cyberball were fairly flexible. They could be programmed to employ 3 or 4 person ball tossing, with or without names or labels, and with or without pictures (these latter variables are good for ingroup/outgroup manipulations). Ostracism could occur immediately or after any number of throws. You could determine the number of throws, whether the participant was included, ostracized, included by some but not others, etc. The Cyberball program also logged each throw, how long it took to decide, and to whom it was thrown.

For these earlier versions, data were collected on the computer on Excel files that you dould paste into SPSS or other statistical programs.

Cyberball 1.0-3.0 stands alone and is not an Internet game, although it appears to be. Participants can only play the game from the computer on which it is downloaded but it has the appearance of an Internet browser. Thus, participants can be led to believe that they are playing with other people in the same lab, at other universities, or from anywhere in the world.

Warning: If using a PC, you would have needed to have Internet Explorer 6.0 (or earlier version). If you do not have this old version, you may download it by going to this link: IE6.0. These versions also operate only on systems prior to Windows 7.Be sure to turn off automatic upgrades while using this version for your research. For Macs, Cyberball 3.0 works only on systems prior to Snow Leopard.

If you have newer operating systems, then please use Cyberball 4.0 (see top of page).

Access to Previous Versions:

Download here for Cyberball v.1 (the typical one used for short-term between-S manipulations, PC only).

Download here for Cyberball v.2 (especially useful for within-S manipulations across longer time periods, PC only).

Download here for Cyberball v.3 (the current version, available for both PC and Mac platforms).

        Access is no longer available for Cyberball v.4. The developer was David Yeager, now at the University of Texas-Austin

Comments or questions are welcome.

Published articles using Cyberball

last updated - January 4, 2012