Do Violent Video Games Cause Behavior Problems and Inclinations: a Study

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A study was devised to answer a question that many individuals have at least once wondered in their lives, does playing certain video games that contain aggressive content increase the likelihood that the individual would have aggressive tendencies compared to an individual who does not play video games with any hostile content. This study was conducted by McCarthy, Coley, Wagner, Zengel, and Basham (2016). The reason behind the study was primarily due to the ongoing debates and studies, such as Shao & Wang (2019) their study demonstrated a connection between exposure to violent video games and teenage violence.

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Participants numbered 386 in total, but only 312 were used and divided into two groups, which consisted of both males and females who were all undergraduates at Northern Illinois University Department of Psychology. The participants were randomly assigned to play either a violent video game (Left 4 Dead 2) or a non- violent video game (Portal) before evaluating their subsequent aggressive tendencies. The participants were then slightly triggered by a partner through a computer, but that partner did not really exist. Then participants were given a choice of producing harm by sticking pins into a voodoo doll that was meant to embody their partner and using an imaginative scale which ranged from sticking 0-10 pins and state the likelihood that they would in fact be harmful towards their partner using a scale that ranged from 0-10.

To sum it all up, the study showed no observable distinction between the aggressive tendencies of the individuals who played a non-violent video game and individuals who played a violent video game. There are numerous weaknesses in this study. McCarthy et al., (2016) study included participants that were all from the Northern Illinois Psychology department which limits the generalizability of the findings to everyone else. This study and finding would just be useful to the Northern Illinois university, and not be efficient enough for others. The participants were also mostly Caucasian 42% which again may create a bias for the study and does not represent the population.

Additionally, this study contains many unethical practices, it questions the participants about their likelihood of performing a violent act towards a doll which is meant to embody their interacting partner, according to The British Psychological Society (2018) this is a risk because it is a study that revolves asking participants about certain topics such as their familiarity with violent behaviour. Another way it violates the ethical code The British Psychological Society (2018), would be that by asking participants to play violent video games and trying to induce frustration through a computer; this may cause psychological stress to the participants.

Finally, another weakness which was recognized would be that the participants are aware that they are a part of a study and are being observed. This means that the participants may not of have answered questions honestly, and instead behaved in a manner that they don’t usually act in. Also, they might’ve only showed aggression when the situation requires them to be. The game was also muted whilst participants were playing which would suggest another reason as to why the results may be different because the participants most likely play the game with the sounds.

On the contrary, this study presents several strengths. An example would be the usage of both females and males. By including both genders this makes the study not biased towards one specific gender, but instead the findings can be applicable towards all individuals regardless of gender. Including both genders in this study is quite important because they both show a different approach to playing video games, according to Drake& Ogleetree (2007) gender is of significance in the studies of playing videogames because data regarding this topic is not frequently reported.

Furthermore, McCarthy et al., (2016)’s research is quite accurate, and equal as it only includes information that was backed up by valid evidence, and previous studies. The method used in this study was also random assignment which again makes the study fair and equal as it gives all participants equal chances of being placed in either playing violent video games or non- violent video games.

Lastly, the measurements used by McCarthy et al., (2016) provided high quality data, and are relevant to help with the findings of the hypothesis. By using a scale to ask the participants to measure the likelihood; this makes the findings concise and easily comprehended.

When remaking McCarthy et al., (2016) study, concentration will be paid on the weaknesses provided previously. Primarily I would gather participants from different areas, departments or universities instead of having all my data from just one department because this will allow for the results to be relevant to the entire population. (insert reference).

The style of the design will remain unchanged, yet the method wouldn’t involve asking the participants to play any violent video games instead participants would be chosen to fill a questionnaire online about video games in general, and whilst answering this questionnaire their computer would lag multiple times causing frustration. Participants chosen will be those who consider themselves as gamers who primarily play violent video games. This would occur through the usage of advertisements online asking for volunteers who game, and they would also receive a sort of compensation for their time. Participants will be of the age 18. (insert reference)

Participants will be asked to sit in a room with a double mirror, which will allow for them to feel as though they are alone and be comfortable in reacting in any way, they think is fit without thinking they are being watched. Observers will be on the opposite side of the mirror observing their behaviour. 

The independent variable would be where the participants are selected, and their age. The dependant variable would be the amount of frustration shown regarding the computer constantly lagging or being slow. Images of guns would also be put on the wall as this may also influence an aggressive reaction. (insert reference why images can elicit aggression. Measurements will be given to the participants such as the MDQ or the BMIS. This will be given to the participants before and after the study. 

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