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Dev Psychol. 2012 Jul;48(4):1044-57. doi: 10.1037/a0026046. Epub 2011 Oct 31.

A longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggression among adolescents.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1. twilloug@brocku.ca

Abstract

In the past 2 decades, correlational and experimental studies have found a positive association between violent video game play and aggression. There is less evidence, however, to support a long-term relation between these behaviors. This study examined sustained violent video game play and adolescent aggressive behavior across the high school years and directly assessed the socialization (violent video game play predicts aggression over time) versus selection hypotheses (aggression predicts violent video game play over time). Adolescents (N = 1,492, 50.8% female) were surveyed annually from Grade 9 to Grade 12 about their video game play and aggressive behaviors. Nonviolent video game play, frequency of overall video game play, and a comprehensive set of potential 3rd variables were included as covariates in each analysis. Sustained violent video game play was significantly related to steeper increases in adolescents' trajectory of aggressive behavior over time. Moreover, greater violent video game play predicted higher levels of aggression over time, after controlling for previous levels of aggression, supporting the socialization hypothesis. In contrast, no support was found for the selection hypothesis. Nonviolent video game play also did not predict higher levels of aggressive behavior over time. Our findings, and the fact that many adolescents play video games for several hours every day, underscore the need for a greater understanding of the long-term relation between violent video games and aggression, as well as the specific game characteristics (e.g., violent content, competition, pace of action) that may be responsible for this association.

PMID:
22040315
DOI:
10.1037/a0026046
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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