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Violent computer games

The main purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of violent computer games on the affective state (hostility and anxiety) and on the physiological arousal as determined by heart rate and skin conductance. This study would verify the findings of previous researchers that exposure to violent computer games would increase the state hostility of the participants (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Eighty-seven (53 males and 34 females) undergraduate students, aged 18-25 years, voluntarily participated in the study.

They were randomly assigned to four treatment conditions, which have increasing violence content, namely: “Flowers”, “Lotus”, “Doom I on the computer screen”, and “Doom 1 with a head-mounted display (HMD)”. Prior to the experiment, the participants were asked to answer self-report measures about video game habits and tested on aggressiveness and trait anxiety. Physiological arousal was measured during the experiment. Results showed that females reported significantly higher state anxiety than males after playing the computer games regardless of its content (violent vs.

non-violent). For the state hostility, it was found out that those who played the non-violent games on the computer screen reported significantly higher state hostility than those who played the non-violent games. Physiological arousal tests showed that heart rate and skin conductance increased only after the first game. The findings imply that playing immersive computer games would increase the state anxiety of the player whether the game is violent or not. Meanwhile, violent games would increase the state hostility of players as compared to non-violent games.

Lastly, physiological arousal has little effect on hostility, and this would rather depend on the aggressiveness of the player. Thus, the results support the assumption that an aggressive personality catalyzes the effect of violent games on state hostility.


Arriaga, P. , Esteves, F. , Carneiro, P. , & Monteiro, M. B. (2006). Violent computer games and their effects on state hostility and physiological arousal. Journal of Aggressive Behavior, 32, 358-371. Bushman, B. J. & Anderson, C. A. (2001). Media violence and the American public: Scientific facts versus media misinformation. Am Pscyhol 56: 477-489.

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