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Prosocial video game as an intimate partner violence prevention tool among youth: A randomised controlled trial

Boduszek, Daniel and Debowska, Agata and Jones, Adele D and Ma, Minhua and Smith, David and Willmott, Dominic and Trotman Jemmott, Ena and Da Breo, Hazel and Kirkman, Gillian (2018) Prosocial video game as an intimate partner violence prevention tool among youth: A randomised controlled trial. Computers in Human Behavior, 93. pp. 260-266. ISSN 0747-5632

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Abstract

Evidence demonstrates that exposure to pro-social video games can increase players' prosocial behaviour, pro-social thoughts, and empathic responses. Prosocial gaming has also been used to reduce gender-based violence among young people, but the use of video games to this end as well as evaluations of their effectiveness are rare. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a context-specific, pro-social video game, Jesse, in increasing affective and cognitive responsiveness (empathy) towards victims of intimate partner violence (IPV)among children and adolescents (N= 172, age range 9–17 years, M= 12.27,SD= 2.26). A randomised controlled trial was conducted in seven schools in Barbados. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental (prosocial video game) or control (standard school curriculum) condition. Experimental and control group enrolled 86 participants each. Girls and boys in the experimental condition, but not their counterparts in the control condition, recorded a significant increase in affective responsiveness after intervention. This change was sustained one week after game exposure. No significant effects were recorded for cognitive responsiveness. Findings suggest that Jesse is a promising new IPV prevention tool among girls and boys, which can be used in educational settings.

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