Video Games and Agression

My Notes from PSYA 4 2011




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Video games and aggression
Research studies
Gentile & Anderson (2003): Meta-analysis found a consistent link between violent game play and
aggressive behaviour. This link was true for children and adults and was stronger in more recent
studies with newer (and so more violent) games.
Experimental studies
Gentile & Stone (2005): Short-term increases in physiological arousal, hostile feelings and behaviour
following violent game play compared to non-violent game play.
Difficult to measure `real-life' aggression (ethical constraints), so researchers use measures of
aggressive behaviour (e.g. noise blasts) that have no relationship to real-life aggression.
Longitudinal studies
Ihori et al. (2003): Children with high exposure to violent game play became more verbally and
physically aggressive AND showed less prosocial behaviour over the course of a school year
compared to their peers.
Participants may also be exposed to other forms of media violence (e.g. TV) during the course of
the study making the effect from video game violence alone difficult to calculate.
Correlational studies
Gentile & Anderson (2003): Time spent playing violent video games was positively correlated with
aggressive feelings and behaviour, even for those with lower levels of trait hostility.
Major problem is that causality cannot be determined, i.e. whether violent game play causes
aggressive behaviour or whether aggressive people choose to play violent games.
Explanations of the Video Games and Aggression Link
Bi-directional model (Gentile & Anderson, 2003)
Playing violent video games may cause increase in aggressive behaviour, but also possible that
people with aggressive personality traits seek out violent video games for recreation.
Desensitisation (Funk, 1993)
People who are repeatedly exposed to violent video games become desensitised toward violence
and so less likely to show aversive response (e.g. disgust) to violence in real life.
Interactive versus passive games
Porter & Starcevic (2007): Interactive violence in video games exert more influence than passive TV
violence, as violent actions are rewarded and portrayed as being appropriate and effective.
Methodology ­
There is a relative lack of longitudinal studies testing the link between habitual violent video game
exposure and later aggression, while controlling for other risk factors such as exposure to other
forms of media violence.

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There exists a publication bias whereby studies with positive results are more likely to be published,
giving a biased view of the studies carried out in this area (Ferguson, 2007)
A physiological explanation has been found between games and aggression. Weber et al. (2006)
used fMRI and found that when playing violent video games, parts of brain that deal with emotional
regulation were less active.…read more


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