Dubenitz, J. (2005). The physical and emotional experience of violence in video games. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 66(2-B), 2005. pp. 1166. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from PsycINFO database.
Despite a considerable amount of speculation regarding the psychological significance of violence in video games, the research literature has yet to present a clear understanding of its consequence. The present research sought to develop increased understanding of video game violence through focus on two poorly understood areas of the literature: (Study 1) the relationship between violence, physiological arousal and attitudes toward guns and violence; (Study 2) the influence of violence on the way boys perceive goodness and badness. In order to address both research areas, 45 boys, ranging in age from 16-19 were randomly assigned to one of three separate groups that would be exposed to differing levels of video game violence. They were provided questionnaires before playing the games that assessed: (a) attitudes toward guns and violence; (b) thoughts and feelings on goodness and badness, and (c) video gaming habits. A week later, baseline measures of arousal (heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure) were obtained for each participant prior to game play. After playing a non-violent game or another game with violence features turned on or off, each participant had a post heart rate blood pressure reading taken and completed a post survey on goodness and badness. The results of Study 1 did not find significant change in heart rate or blood pressure for either the control condition or for the groups exposed to differing levels of violence over a 30 minute game play period. Furthermore, there was no evidence that attitudes toward guns and violence or race influenced physiological response. In the context of the literature on arousal, the results suggest that arousal as a factor of violence does occur though it is ephemeral. Study 2 sought to explore whether violence in video games might be a venue for adolescents to explore ethical self-development; and whether this exploration may be evident in how they articulate goodness and badness. Although statistically significant change was noted on individual survey questions, overall, change was minimal. While the results do not support the proposed theoretical model, further suggestions for exploration are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)