Zhen, S., Xie, H., Zhang, W., Wang, S., & Li, D. (2011). Exposure to violent computer games and Chinese adolescents’ physical aggression: The role of beliefs about aggression, hostile expectations, and empathy. Computers In Human Behavior, 27(5), 1675-1687. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2011.02.006

Previous research shows that playing violent computer games (VCG) influences physical aggression. However, the mediation processes of this influence and potential gender and age differences have not been well investigated. The present study (a) tested, in an integrated model, how three factors (i.e., beliefs about aggression, hostile expectations, and empathy) simultaneously mediated the relationship between playing VCG and physical aggression, and (b) determined if the mediation process varied across gender and age groups. A total of 795 (44% females) Chinese adolescents from three grade levels (Grade 5, 8 and 11) completed measures of exposure to VCG, physical aggression, beliefs about aggression, hostile expectations, and empathy. Results indicated that paths involving each of the three mediators as the sole mediator were significant in the whole sample. Beliefs about aggression (e.g., “it’s O.K. to hit someone”) were the most robust mediator across gender and age groups. Empathy was a more important mediator in females than in males in Grade 5 and Grade 8. The direct and/or indirect associations (e.g., VCG → beliefs about aggression → physical aggression) between playing VCG and physical aggression were stronger among younger adolescents than among older adolescents. The implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)