Trait aggression and style of video game play: The effects of violent video game play on aggressive thoughts
This study examined whether males (N = 66) who play a violent video game (24: The Game) are more likely to form aggressive thoughts than males who play a nonviolent game (Tetris), and furthermore, whether this tendency to form aggressive thoughts is moderated by trait aggression, such that those with high levels of this personality trait would reliably report more aggressive thoughts. Players’ style of video game play (very aggressive versus less aggressive) was considered as well. Results indicated that, as predicted, participants who played the violent video game produced more aggressive thoughts than those who played the nonviolent game; however, contrary to our hypothesis, trait aggression did not moderate this relationship; i.e., the effects on playing the violent video game on aggressive cognitions were not statistically larger (or smaller) for those participants who scored high on the trait aggression index than for those who scored low. Using data obtained by measuring participants’ playing style during while playing 24: The Game, the results reveal that individuals do, indeed, tend to play video games, at least violent video games, in relatively different ways; in fact, the number of in-game violent acts committed by players varied substantially (from a low of 57 acts to a high of 255 acts). Subsequent analyses indicated that participants' level of trait aggression did not influence the style of video game play used (more aggressive versus less aggressive). However, results also indicated that a more aggressive playing style did, in fact, predict aggressive thoughts. Drawing on the theories of neo-associationism and GAM, this study offers an innovative approach to gaming research by considering one's in-game aggressive playing style as well as individual difference variables (i.e. trait aggressiveness) in investigating the aggressive outcomes of violent video game play.
0708: Mass communications