The role of video game violence in hostile affect, cognitions and attributional style among adolescent players: Volume 1

Warm, Anna (1999) The role of video game violence in hostile affect, cognitions and attributional style among adolescent players: Volume 1. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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A central aim of the present research was to investigate the short-term influences of video game play on aggression-related psychological states (including affect, cognitions, attributions and behavioural tendencies). More specifically, efforts were directed at establishing psychological effects of video games, which are causally related to game violence. A series of experiments examined short-term changes in adolescent players following various types of video game play.
Experiment 1 identified a number of important game dimensions (i.e., characteristics of video game play) and explored their relationship to overall game enjoyment using path analysis. Of particular interest was the finding that violence did not strongly influence game enjoyment. In Experiment 2, increases in affective hostility and anger were reported after both types of video game play. Significantly greater increases after violent video game play provided support for a video game violence-hostile affect relation. However, the findings of subsequent experiments produced contrasting evidence showing that
affective changes following video game play do not predictably vary as a function of game violence, but appear to be linearly related to video game pace. Game violence was more strongly implicated in cognitive effects of video game play. Evidence that game violence affects cognitions emerged on a variety of measures. These cognitive effects were seen as being reflective of aggression priming and short-term disinhibition processes. Finally, the extent to which short-term effects of violent video game play dispose players towards aggression was investigated using attribution and response tendency measures. Whilst the majority of the analyses failed to produce effects of game violence on attributions and response tendencies, an interesting interaction emerged involving game violence effects in females. The nature of the inteaction was viewed as being best explained by modelling processes, though disinhibition explanations were also viewed as being compatible.
The findings were interpreted within existing social-psychological theories of media-elicited aggression. A number of video game effects could be accounted for using Berkowitz's cognitive neo-associationist framework, whilst other findings implicated the usefulness of Zillmann's excitation-transfer theory for understanding video game effects. Ultimately, the
results were conceptualised using Anderson's General Affective Aggression model.
Overall, the research was fairly successful in highlighting a number of short-term affective and cognitive states that can result from video game play. However, these effects were generally not manifested in behavioural tendencies towards others. The few findings that did implicate increases in aggressive behavioural tendencies were difficult to place within
Anderson's framework, as they did not parallel changes at earlier stages of the model (i.e. affective and cognitive changes). Modelling and/or possibly disinhibition effects were viewed as the most appropriate theoretical concepts for explaining the findings relating to behavioural tendencies. The implications of the findings in relation to previous research on video game and media effects and limitations to the generalisability of the findings are discussed. Finally, several recommendations for future research are outlined.

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