Violent Video Games and Expectation of Hostility

I have always felt that violent video games are bad for society. It is an idea that I try to communicate to my students every class. For decades there has been an accumulation of research that showed that people are more aggressive after playing violent video games. This aggressiveness has been demonstrated in many ways across the studies—attitude, verbally, and physically.

A recent study has now demonstrated that the aggressiveness is cumulative—that increasing playing of violent video games actually leads to increasing aggression. This is the first study to demonstrate that the more one plays, the more the aggressiveness. So far, to my knowledge, we do not have any research that looks at the pathway of diminishing aggressiveness. But we can see that the aggressiveness of playing these games builds up over time.

A particularly interesting aspect of this study is the finding that one of the contributing factors of the increased aggression is the expectation of hostility. It would seem that one of the factors contributing to the aggressiveness is defensiveness—and a tendency toward “first strike.” This seems particularly important to me. Expectation of hostility also leads to more pessimism and consequently more depression. With rates of depression increasing (rapidly) over the last 5 decades, I cannot help but wonder what effect violent video games are having on negatively affecting our collective world view, if it is in fact leading to increased expectation of hostility in the world.

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About Denis "Woodja" Flanigan

A Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Houston, he received his M.S. in Psychology and Ph. D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida. He has over 10 years experience in working with high school and college students and adults in counseling centers, community mental health settings, and private practice addressing a wide range of psychological issues. He is an expert on non-traditional relationships and accepting of non-traditional belief systems.

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