From MIT Technology Review:
One of the goals of anthropology is to understand the way that humans interact to form groups. Indeed, anthropologists have long known that human societies are highly structured.
But exactly what kinds of structures form and to what extent these groupings depend on the environment is still the subject of much debate. So an interesting question is whether humans form the same kinds of structures in online worlds as they do in real life.
Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Benedikt Fuchs at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria and a couple of pals. These guys have studied the groups humans form when playing a massive multiplayer online game called Pardus.
Their conclusion is that humans naturally form into a fractal-like hierarchy in which people belong to a variety of groups on different scales. In fact, the formation of hierarchies seems to be an innate part of the human condition.