Skip to main content

Violent Video Games Don’t Increase Hostility in Teens, but They Do Stress Girls Out

Abstract

The impact of violent video games (VVGs) on youth remains unclear given inconsistent results in past literature. Most previous experimental studies have been done with college students, not youth. The current study examined the impact of VVGs in an experimental study of teens (12–18). Participants were randomized to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Teens also reported their levels of stress and hostility both before and after video game play. Hostility levels neither decreased nor increased following violent game play, and Bayesian analyzes confirmed that results are supportive of the null hypothesis. By contrast, VVG exposure increased stress, but only for girls. The impact of VVGs on teen hostility is minimal. However, players unfamiliar with such games may find them unpleasant. These results are put into the context of Uses and Gratifications Theory with suggestions for how medical professionals should address the issue of VVG play with concerned parents.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Media violence policy statement. Pediatrics 124(5):1495–1503, 2009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. American Psychological Association. Resolution on violence in video games and interactive media. 2005. http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/interactive-media.pdf. Accessed March 7 2011.

  3. Ferguson CJ. Violent video games and the supreme court: Lessons for the scientific community in the wake of Brown v EMA. American Psychologist 68(2):57–74, 2013.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Consortium of Scholars. Scholar’s Open Statement to the APA Task Force on Violent Media. 2013. http://www.scribd.com/doc/223284732/Scholar-s-Open-Letter-to-the-APA-Task-Force-On-Violent-Media-Opposing-APA-Policy-Statements-on-Violent-Media. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.

  5. Willoughby T, Adachi PC, Good M. A longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents. Developmental Psychology 48(4):1044, 2012. doi:10.1037/a0026046.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Breuer J, Vogelgesang J, Quandt T, Festl R. Violent video games and physical aggression: Evidence for a selection effect among adolescents. Psychology of Popular Media Culture (in press).

  7. Przybylski AK. Electronic gaming and psychosocial adjustment. Pediatrics 134, e716–e722, 2014.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Ferguson CJ. Do angry birds make for angry children? A meta-analysis of video game Influences on children’s and adolescents’ aggression, mental health, prosocial behavior and academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science (in press).

  9. Griffiths M. Video game bans: the debate about guns, GTA, and real-life violence. The Independent. 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/video-game-bans-the-debate-about-guns-gta-and-reallife-violence-10057296.html. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.

  10. Adachi PC, Willoughby T. The effect of violent video games on aggression: Is it more than just the violence? Aggression and Violent Behavior 16(1):55–62, 2010. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2010.12.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Elson M, Mohseni M, Breuer J, Scharkow M, Quandt T. Press CRTT to measure aggressive behavior: The unstandardized use of the competitive reaction time task in aggression research. Psychological Assessment 26(2):419, 2014. doi:10.1037/a0035569.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Tear MJ, Nielsen M. Video games and prosocial behavior: A study of the effects of non-violent, violent and ultra-violent gameplay. Computers in Human Behavior 41:8–13, 2014. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Tear M, Nielson M. Failure to demonstrate that playing violent video games diminishes prosocial behavior. PLoS One 8(7):e68382, 2013

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Valadez JJ Ferguson CJ. Just a game after all: Violent video game exposure and time spent playing effects on hostile feelings, depression, and visuospatial cognition. Computers in Human Behavior 28:608–616, 2012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Buss AH, Warren WL. Aggression Questionnaire Manual. Los Angeles, Western Psychological Services, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Anderson CA, Deuser W, DeNeve K. Hot temperatures, hostile affect, hostile cognition and arousal: Tests of a general model of affective aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 21:434–448, 1995.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL, Lushene R, Vagg PR, Jacobs GA. Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA, Consulting Psychologists Press, 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Dienes Z. Making the most of your data with Bayes. 2014. http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.uk/home/Zoltan_Dienes/Bayes.htm. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.

  19. Anderson CA, Shibuya A, Ihori N, Swing EL, Bushman BJ, Sakamoto A, Saleem M. Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries. Psychological Bulletin 136(2):151, 2010. doi:10.1037/a0018251.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Przybylski AK, Deci EL, Rigby CS, Ryan RM. Competence-impeding electronic games and players’ aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 106(3), 441–457, 2014. doi:10.1037/a0034820.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Sherry JL, Lucas K, Greenberg BS, Lachlan K. Video Game Uses and Gratifications as Predicators of Use and Game Preference. In Vorderer P, Bryant J, Vorderer P, Bryant J (Eds) Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences, Mahwah, Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 213–224, 2006.

  22. Griffiths MD, Kuss DJ, King DL. Video game addiction: Past, present and future. Current Psychiatry Reviews, 8(4):308–318, 2012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Ivory J. Video games as a multifaceted medium: A review of quantitative social science research on video games and a typology of video game research approaches. Review of Communication Research 1(1):31–68, 2013.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

All authors received no grants, honorarium or other funding to contribute to this report.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare and are solely responsible for the study design, analysis and decision to submit for publication.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ferguson, C.J., Trigani, B., Pilato, S. et al. Violent Video Games Don’t Increase Hostility in Teens, but They Do Stress Girls Out. Psychiatr Q 87, 49–56 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-015-9361-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-015-9361-7

Keywords

  • Video games
  • Violence
  • Adolescents
  • Stress