Summary of “Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature”

This paper is a summary of an article by Craig A. Anderson and Brad J. Bushman entitled “Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature” published on September 2001 by the American Psychological Society. The article has attempted to find scientific evidence on the relationship of violent video games and aggression. The purpose of the article was to counter the claims of the video-game industry that there is no proof that playing violent video games would lead to aggressive behavior. To accomplish this, the authors did a meta-analysis review of the existing literature on violent video games and aggression.

The authors have presented a number of statistical data that supports the claim that more and more children and adults alike are playing violent video games. They have also included a discussion on studies of violence in television and movies because the medium is almost identical to violent video games in terms of the psychological processes it evokes on the viewer and the player. Moreover, the authors use the established research findings of violence in television and movies as parallel to violent video games in that it influences aggressive behavior. In order demonstrate how violence in media increases aggression and violence, the authors have made use of the General Aggression Model for both short- term and long-term exposure to violence. Prosocial behavior was discussed since it is a highly evident measure of an increase in aggression. The authors’ therefore sought to answer the question; do exposure to violent video games increase aggression and how does it increase aggression.

In the meta-analysis of the existing literature on violent video games and aggression, the authors conducted a literature search using PsychINFO with key words like video, game, aggress, violent etc. The studies that measured the effects of playing video games were found relevant to the study and were coded. Then the studies were subjected to correlation coefficient, and the statistical analysis system.

The findings of the study “clearly supported the hypothesis that exposure to violent video games poses a public health threat to children and youths, including college-age individuals” (Anderson & Bushman, 2001 p.358). The authors found that there was evidence that exposure to violent video games was associated with heightened levels of aggression and it is negatively related with prosocial behavior. In the same manner, exposure to violent video games was positively related to the development of aggressive personality by increasing aggressive cognition, as well as being related to aggressive affect and physiological arousal.

The authors concluded that there is indeed sufficient evidence that shows that playing violent video games do increase aggressive behavior. However, the researchers felt that longitudinal studies on the issue should be carried out as well as studies on the magnitude of the effects of video games versus TV-movie violence and how it is able to cause aggressive behavior. Finally, Anderson and Bushman (2001) pointed out whether “it was possible to use the profit motive that has for years driven the media violence machine to turn that machine into prosocial direction” (p.359).