Elson, Malte (2011). The Effects of Displayed Violence and Game Speed in First-Person Shooters on Physiological Arousal and Aggressive Behavior. Masters thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Many studies have been conducted to examine the effects of displayed violence in digital games on outcomes like aggressive behavior and physiological arousal. However, they often lack a proper manipulation of the relevant factors and control of confounding variables. In this study, the displayed violence and game speed of a recent first-person shooter game were varied systematically using the technique of modding, so that effects could be explained properly by the respective manipulations. Aggressive behavior was measured with the standardized version of the Competitive Reaction Time Task or CRTT (Ferguson et al., 2008}. Physiological arousal was operationalized with four measurements: galvanic skin response (GSR), heart rate (HR), body movement, force on mouse and keyboard. A total of N = 87 participants played in one of four game conditions (low- vs. high-violence, normal- vs. high speed) while physiological measurements were taken with finger clips, force sensors on input devices (mouse and keyboard), and a Nintendo Wii balance board on the chair they sat on. After play, their aggressive behavior was measured with the CRTT. The results of the study do not support the hypothesis that playing digital games increases aggressive behavior. There were no significant differences in GSR and HR, but with a higher game speed, participants showed less overall body movement, most likely to meet the game’s higher demands on cognitive and motor capacities. Also, higher game speed and displayed violence caused an increase in applied force on mouse and keyboard. Previous experience with digital games did not moderate any of these findings. Moreover, it provides further evidence that the CRTT should only be used in a standardized way as a measurement for aggression, if at all. Using all 7 different published (though not validated) ways to calculate levels of aggression from the raw data, “evidence” was found that playing a violent digital game increases, decreases, or does not change aggression at all. Thus, the present study does extend previous research. Firstly, it shows the methodological advantages of modding in digital game research to accomplish the principles of psychological (laboratory) experiments by manipulating relevant variables and controlling all others. It also demonstrates the test-theoretical problems of the highly diverse use of the CRTT. It provides evidence that for a meaningful interpretation of effects of displayed violence in digital games, there are other game characteristics that should be controlled for since they might have an effect on relevant outcome variables. Further research needs to identify more of those game features, and it should also improve the understanding of the different measures for physiological arousal and their interrelatedness.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters thesis)
Translated title:
Die Auswirkungen von abgebildeter Gewalt und Spielgeschwindigkeit von First-Person Shootern auf physiologische Erregung und aggressives VerhaltenGerman
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Elson, Maltemail@malte-elson.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-42918
Date: 1 July 2011
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Human Sciences > Department Psychologie
Subjects: Psychology
Public performances
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Digital games, video games, computer games, aggression, body movement, first-person shooter, modding, psychophysiology, physiological arousal, speed, CRTT, displayed, Violence, modding, galvanic skin response, heart rateEnglish
Digitale Spiele, Videospiele, Computerspiele, Aggression, Körperbewegung, First-person Shooter, Ego-Shooter, modding, Psychophysiologie, Physiologische Erregung, Geschwindigkeit, CRTT, Gewalt, Abgebildete, modding, Galvanischer Hautwiderstand, Hautleitfähigkeit, HerzschlagGerman
Date of oral exam: 9 May 2011
NameAcademic Title
Kneer, JuliaDr.
Quandt, ThorstenProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/4291


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