INTRODUCTIONEffect of Violent Video Games on Aggression
Bartholow and Anderson (2002) wanted to look at how violent video games affect peopleís aggressiveness. The hypothesis was that participants who played the violent game would be more aggressive than the participants who played the nonviolent game. The participants were made up of 43 undergraduate students. Mortal Kombat was chosen as the violent game and PGA Tournament Golf was the nonviolent game. The participants were split into two groups, with one group playing the violent game and the other group playing the nonviolent game. Once this was done, the participants did a retaliation reaction time task with a confederate. Participants set punishment levels for the confederate during the retaliation task. The punishment levels were in the form of noise levels. The researchers found that the participants, who played Mortal Kombat, used higher levels of noise when they were in the punisher role. The hypothesis was supported because the participants who played the violent video game demonstrated more aggressive behaviors. Bensley and Van Eenwyk (2001) reviewed the literature from 1984 to 2000 to see if violent video games contributed to aggression. The study designs found in the review of literature include the following: experimental (participants played a violent or nonviolent video game), quasi-experimental (pretest-posttest design), correlational (participants were asked about a behavior that was related to aggression), and descriptive (participants were asked how playing video games affected them). The three age groups of this review were preschool and elementary children, middle and high school students, and college students and young adults. Each of the age groups had their own set of results. The results for the preschool and elementary children came from eight experimental and one correlational study. Three of the four behavioral observation studies showed that violent video game play caused an increase in aggression or aggressive play. Another pair of studies showed that after playing an aggressive video game aggression increased. Another study also found that those who were exposed to an aggressive video game or cartoon had an increase in aggression. Only one of these studies showed no difference in aggression between aggressive and nonaggressive video games. In contrast, the results of the middle and high school students did not find a link between violent video games and aggression. The studies for this age group had a lot of mixed results. Some studies showed that video games affected aggression while others showed that video games did not affect aggression. The results for the college students and young adult age group came from the following: seven experimental studies, two correlational, and another separate study. Evidence was mixed about whether violent video games caused increases in aggression. Some of the studies showed that aggression and hostility were related to violent video game play while other studies did not show this relation. One of the recent studies did, however, show that college students had increases in aggression after playing a violent video game. Anderson (2004) did a meta-analysis of previous research concerning violent video game effects. A meta-analysis is an analysis of an analysis that looks for an experimental effect in several studies. He chose studies that were relevant to the link between violent video games and the following variables: aggressive behavior, cognition, and affect; helping behavior; and physiological arousal. The results showed that playing violent video games caused aggression to increase. The correlational studies showed a larger association between aggression and violent video games than the experimental studies. As the number of violent video game studies increase, it is becoming easier to see the relationship between violent video games and the aggression variables. Anderson and Bushman (2001) reviewed the literature about video games. They conducted this review to look at two issues. The first issue was if being exposed to violent video games causes increased aggression. The second issue was how this exposure to violent video games causes increased aggression. Several experiments, that had a total of 3,033 participants, found that violent video games increased aggression. The violent video games caused an effect in both men and women, and in children and adults. Overall, Anderson and Bushman found that aggression increases after exposure to violent video games. Anderson and Dill (2000) conducted two studies to look at the effects that violent video games have on aggression-related variables such as aggressive behavior; delinquency; world view; aggressive thought, affect (mood), and behavior. Their first study consisted of 227 undergraduate students. This study looked at long-term exposure to violent video games and aggression. The participants were given a questionnaire, which was made up of six scales, to get data on aggressive behavior, delinquency, and world view. The scales in the questionnaire are from the following: the Caprara Irritability Scale, the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire, the Delinquency Scale, and the rest were created by the experimenters. Anderson and Dill found a positive relationship between exposure to violent video games and aggressive behavior. The second study consisted of 210 undergraduate students. The purpose of this study was to look at the effects of a violent video game on aggressive thought, affect (mood), behavior, and world view. The participants played either Myst (nonviolent game) or Wolfenstein 3D (violent game). In Wolfenstein 3D the hero can choose a variety of weapons to use throughout the game. The ultimate goal is to kill Adolf Hitler. Myst is an interactive adventure game. The participants played their assigned game a total of three times for 15 minutes each. Those exposed to the violent video game had more aggressive thoughts than those who were exposed to the nonviolent video game. The overall finding of these two studies was that exposure to violent video games increased aggression. Anderson, Carnagey, Flanagan, Benjamin, Eubanks, and Valentine (2004) conducted an experiment and a meta-analysis to look at exposure to violent video games and aggression. In their experiment, 10 video games were used. The participants played for 20 minutes. After playing the video game, the participants filled out a Word Completion Task. From the Word Completion Task, researchers calculated the participantsí accessibility of aggressive thoughts. It was found that violent video games increased the accessibility of aggressive thoughts. In their meta-analysis, studies were included that looked at a link between violent video games and the following variables: aggressive behavior, cognition, and affect; helping behavior; and physiological arousal. The researchers found that violent video game exposure increased aggressive behavior, affect, and cognition; physiological arousal; and prosocial behavior. My experiment looked at the effect that watching a violent video game clip had on aggression. The Word Completion Task and the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale were used to measure aggression. I hypothesized that the participants who watch a violent video game clip will score higher on the post Word Completion Task and Buss-Perry Aggression Scale.
A total of 11 students (eight men and three women) participated in this experiment. All students were from the same professorís three spring 2006 General Psychology classes at a small university in the Midwest.
The experiment was conducted in lab rooms provided by the Psychology Department. The TVís and VCRís were also provided by the Psychology Department. Recorded clips of the PS2 games Mortal Kombat: Deception and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2002 were used for the violent and nonviolent video game clips. The pencil and paper surveys used were the Word Completion Task and the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale. The pre Word Completion Task consisted of the first 49 out of 98 word completion tasks, the post Word Completion Task consisted of the last 49 out of 98 word completion tasks, and the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale consisted of 29 questions.
The participants, upon arrival for the study, were randomly assigned to watch a 10 minute video clip of a video game. The participants watched either a violent video game clip or a nonviolent video game clip. I had a container that contained six slips of paper with V written on half for the violent video game group and NV written on the other half for the nonviolent video game group. The participants signed up and were randomly assigned. The experimenter took turns drawing out a slip of paper that determined which group the participants were in. They went into the labs three at a time. One lab of three participants watched the violent video game clip while the other three participants watched the nonviolent video game clip in another lab. Once in the lab rooms, the participants had five minutes to fill out the pre Word Completion Task (that consisted of the first 49 word tasks) to measure initial aggressiveness before watching the assigned video game clip. After watching the 10 minute video clip, the participants had five minutes to fill out the post Word Completion Task (that consisted of the last 49 word tasks) to reassess their aggressiveness. The participants also filled out the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale before they left the study. Then the participants were thanked for their participation. I gave a list of the participantís names to their professor so they could be awarded the five extra credit points for participating. Then they were debriefed about the purpose of the study, via e-mail, after the study was completed.
RESULTS The first ANOVA was conducted to see if there was a significant difference between the violent and nonviolent total scores on the pre Word Completion Task and the post Word Completion Task. There was no significant difference found between the violent pre Word Completion Task scores (M = 7.20, s = 2.17) and the nonviolent pre Word Completion Task scores (M = 7.17, s = .75), F (1, 9) = .97, p > .05. There was also no significant difference found between the violent post Word Completion Task scores (M = 5.20, s = 3.70) and the nonviolent post Word Completion Task scores (M = 5.17, s = .75), F (1, 9) = .98, p > .05. The means for the post Word Completion Task are considered low. With regard to the Buss-Perry total scores, an approaching significant difference was found between the violent video game group and the nonviolent video game group, F (1, 9) = 4.16, p = .072. The participants in the nonviolent video game group reported higher levels of aggression (M = 88.50, s = 5.13) than the violent video game group (M = 76.00, s = 14.05). Another ANOVA was run that analyzed the following subscales of the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale: physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger and hostility. No significant difference was found between the violent and nonviolent group scores for physical aggression, verbal aggression, and hostility, as shown in Table 1. However, a significant difference was found between the anger score for the violent group (M = 14.60, s = 3.21) and the anger score for the nonviolent group (M = 23.17, s = 4.12), F (1, 9) = 14.29, p < .01. This result suggests that the nonviolent group was angrier than the violent group.
DISCUSSION The main hypothesis was that the participants who watched a violent video game clip would score higher on the post Word Completion Task and the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale. The results showed that the violent video game group, who did not score significantly higher on the post Word Completion Task, was not more aggressive than the nonviolent group. Thus watching video games, whether violent or nonviolent, may produce the same low level of aggression. The results also show that the nonviolent video game group, who did not score significantly higher on the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale, were not more aggressive that the violent video game group. It was found, however, that the nonviolent groupís anger score, from the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale, was significantly higher than the violent groupís angry score. This means that the nonviolent group was angrier than the violent group, which was very surprising. It was expected that the violent group would be angrier. The hypothesis stated above was not supported by the results of the study. This study had some limitations. One of the limitations was not having enough participants. If there were more than 11 participants, some significant differences might have been found between the violent and nonviolent video game groups. Especially in regard to the post Word Completion Task scores and the Buss-Perry Aggression Scale total scores. More participants would allow more scores to be analyzed, which would increase the chance of finding a significant difference between the violent and nonviolent video game groups. Another limitation of the study was not having sufficient time to collect data. The data collection time for the study was one week. A data collection time of a month or two would have increased the chances of finding significant differences in the data. Another limitation was that spring time is a busy time of the year and it is hard to get a lot of participants to come participate in the study. This study does allow room for future research in regard to the effect of watching violent video games on aggression. This study could be replicated, but with varying exposure time to the video game clips. Instead of being exposed to the video game clips for only 10 minutes, the participants could be exposed for five minutes, 15 minutes, etc. The games that are being played could also be changed around to see which games give the best results. The games used in this study, Mortal Kombat: Deception and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2002, would be good to use in future research. The participants could also play the video games instead of watching to see if the results are clearer through this approach. In the previous research, participants got to play the video games. These are some of the ways that this study could be done in the future and it will be exciting to see what other ways will be thought of by future researchers.
REFERENCES Anderson, C. A. (2004). An update on the effects of playing violent video games. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 113-122.Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353-359.Anderson, C. A., Carnagey, N. L., Flanagan, M., Benjamin, A. J., Eubanks, J., & Valentine, J. C. (2004). Violent video games: Specific effects of violent content on aggressive thoughts and behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 199-249.Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772-790.Bartholow, B. D., & Anderson, C. A. (2002). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior: Potential sex differences. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 283-290.Bensley, L., & Van Eenwyk, J. (2001). Video games and real-life aggression: Review of literature. Journal of Adolescent Health, 29, 244-257.Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459.
Table 1 Mean Scores of Physical Aggression, Verbal Aggression, and Hostility Subscales Physical Verbal Aggression Aggression Hostility Violent 24.00 (8.06) 19.40 (1.67) 18.00 (10.77) Nonviolent 23.17 (2.93) 20.00 (6.03) 22.17 (4.71) Note: Mean (Standard Deviation)