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Effects of violent video games on aggressive thoughts and feelings: video games and reward

Pitcher, Daniel (2012) Effects of violent video games on aggressive thoughts and feelings: video games and reward. Southampton Solent University.


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Violent video games (VVGs) have been at the centre of the controversy of media effects on aggression for the past three decades. Several theories have been applied to explaining effects of VVGs, though few studies have directly studied them, the most cited of these being the social learning theory. This study investigated how different types of reward in a VVG can influence aggressive cognition and mood differently and also long-term effects of frequent VVG exposure. The present study had three conditions, direct reward, indirect reward and a control condition, all conditions involved participants playing ‘Gears of War 3’ with the settings manipulated for each condition. Participants completed measures of aggression before and after gameplay. The results of this study showed that direct and indirect conditions increased equally but not significantly more than the control condition. There was no difference in aggressive increases between high and low videogame players. A small positive relationship between VVG and initial aggressive cognition scores was found. It was concluded that the social learning theory does not fit the effects of VVGs as well as other theories, such as excitation-transfer. Future studies were urged to investigate how the effects of VVGs can differ from violent television.

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