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Violent video games: The effects of narrative context and reward structure on in-game and postgame aggression


Sauer, JD and Drummond, A and Nova, N, Violent video games: The effects of narrative context and reward structure on in-game and postgame aggression, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 21, (3) pp. 205-14. ISSN 1076-898X (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/xap0000050


The potential influence of video game violence on real-world aggression has generated considerable public and scientific interest. Some previous research suggests that playing violent video games can increase postgame aggression. The generalized aggression model (GAM) attributes this to the generalized activation of aggressive schemata. However, it is unclear whether game mechanics that contextualize and encourage or inhibit in-game violence moderate this relationship. Thus, we examined the effects of reward structures and narrative context in a violent video game on in-game and postgame aggression. Contrary to GAM-based predictions, our manipulations differentially affected in-game and postgame aggression. Reward structures selectively affected in-game aggression, whereas narrative context selectively affected postgame aggression. Players who enacted in-game violence through a heroic character exhibited less postgame aggression than players who enacted comparable levels of in-game violence through an antiheroic character. Effects were not attributable to self-activation or character-identification mechanisms, but were consistent with social-cognitive context effects on the interpretation of behavior. These results contradict the GAM's assertion that violent video games affect aggression through a generalized activation mechanism. From an applied perspective, consumer choices may be aided by considering not just game content, but the context in which content is portrayed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:videogames, media violence, aggression, motivation
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Cognition
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Sauer, JD (Associate Professor Jim Sauer)
ID Code:103276
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:19
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2015-10-01
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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