The effect of violent, competitive, and multiplayer video games on aggression

Dowsett, A 2017, The effect of violent, competitive, and multiplayer video games on aggression, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The effect of violent, competitive, and multiplayer video games on aggression
Author(s) Dowsett, A
Year 2017
Abstract With such a large proportion of people playing video games the negative effects of these games continue to be an important and debated area of research. Studies have primarily focussed on the effect of violence within video games on aggression, with the majority demonstrating a positive causal effect. However, there has been little research assessing the effect of competition and multiple human players within video games on aggression. In addition, competition is rarely controlled for in violent video game studies, thus competition may be confounding results as violent video games are generally more competitive. Furthermore, the interaction effect between violence and competition has not been previously assessed. Based on the review of the literature five research questions were posed and assessed: (1) Does competition within video games affect aggression?; (2) Does violence within video games affect aggression when competition is controlled for?; (3) Is there an interaction between competition and violence within video games on aggression?; (4) Do multiplayer games have a relationship with aggression and competition?; (5) Can a more comprehensive model of how video games impact aggression be created, i.e. beyond violence within video game? The first study to address these research questions (Study 1A) assessed 99 participants (51 males, 48 females) using a cross-sectional design and found that real world exposure to and preference for competitive video games had a significant positive correlation with trait aggression. Playing multiplayer games was also correlated with trait aggression and this was most likely due to preference for multiplayer games being correlated with preference for competitive video games. Contrary to the majority of previous research, exposure to and preference for violent video games did not significantly correlate with trait aggression. In addition, no interaction between violence and competition was found. Study 1B further investigated the responses of a subset of 60 participants from Study 1A (36 males, 24 females) to clarify whether participants can reliably and validly assess competition, as well as clarifying which aspects increase a video game’s rating of competitiveness. Participants’ responses were found to be reliable and valid. In addition, frequency of competitive events, clear opponent’s score feedback, leader boards, team gameplay, time pressure, and multiplayer aspects were found to be predictors of competition within video games and these factors were used to develop a new measure that rates the level of competitiveness within a video game. A final two by two (violence x competition) experimental study assessed 64 participants (40 males, 24 females) to investigate the role of video game competition and violence on player aggression. To control for all possible confounding variables, the same game was used across all conditions and only the levels of violence and competition were varied. Participants who played the competitive version had higher levels of aggressive affect post gameplay, but the level of violence within the game had no effect. Both violence and competition had no impact on aggressive behaviour or arousal, although this was most likely due to limitations of the measures and procedures used. No interaction between violence and competition was found for any measure. The results in this dissertation suggest that competition within video games rather than violence increases aggression post gameplay. Multiplayer games are also related to increased aggression and this is most likely due to the increase in the competitiveness of the game when playing other humans. The findings from the studies were also used to create a more comprehensive model of how video games impact aggression. The major implication of this dissertation is that competition should be considered in official video game ratings (e.g., R18+ (Australian rating), M17+ (US rating) etc.) and the measure of competitiveness developed in Study 1B could be used as a rating guide. In addition, there should be a greater focus by educators and parents to teach children how to deal with competition appropriately and this could be done through adult or parent supervision of children playing competitive video games.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health and Biomedical Sciences
Subjects Social and Community Psychology
Keyword(s) Video Games
Aggression
Violence
Competition
Multiplayer
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Created: Thu, 13 Jul 2017, 10:28:12 EST by Adam Rivett
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