And How Does That Make You Feel?

A Psychological Approach to a Classic Game Studies Debate – Violent Video Games and Aggression

  • Sean Pellegrini University College Cork


Many media outlets, researchers and organisations claim that violent video games can cause aggression. The present study had participants play violent and non-violent video games and measured aggression after gameplay to investigate this claim. The susceptibility of a personality type called the Dark Triad (individuals high on psychopathic, narcissistic and machiavellian traits) and camera styles (First or Third-Person) of violent games were also investigated. Two-way ANOVAs were used for statistical analysis to compare participants. Participants who were highly correlated with the Dark Triad of personality had a statistically significant higher mean score of aggression. This increase in aggression remained irrespective of the game (violent or non-violent) played during the experiment. Violent video games and video game camera-style did not have any effect on aggression. The findings suggest that people highly correlated with the Dark Triad of personality are a high-risk group for aggression, but that this aggression is unrelated to video games.  


Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353-359.

Anderson, C. A., Carnagey, N. L., Flanagan, M., Benjamin, A. J., Eubanks, J., & Valentine, J, C. (2004). Violent video games: Specific effects of violent content on aggressive thoughts and behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 199-249.

Anderson, C. A., Deuser, W. E., & DeNeve, K. M. (1995). Hot temperatures, hostile affect, hostile cognition, and arousal: Tests of a general model of affective aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21(5), 434-448.

Anderson, C. A., Gentile, D. A., & Buckley, K. E. (2007). Violent video game effects on children and adolescents: Theory, research, and public policy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A…. & Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151-173.

Carll, E., Singer, D., Anderson, C., Bushman, B., Dill, K., & Friedland, L. (2005). American Psychological Association resolution on violence in video games and interactive media. Retrieved from

DeLisi, M., Vaughn, M. G., Gentile, D. A., Anderson, C. A., & Shook, J, J. (2012). Violent video games, delinquency, and youth violence: New evidence. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 11(2), 132-142.

EA Black Box (2008). Need for Speed: Undercover [Video game]. Redwood City: Electronic Arts.

Entertainment Software Association. (2017). Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. The
Entertainment Software Association. Retrieved from!EF2017_Design_FinalDigital.pdf

Eron, L. D., Gentry, J. H., & Schlegel, P. (Eds.). (1994). Reason to hope: A psychosocial perspective on violence & youth. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Etchells, P. (2013, September 19). What is the link between violent video games and aggression? The Guardian. Retrieved from

Ferguson, C. J. (2007). Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(4), 470-482.

Ferguson, C. J., & Kilburn, J. (2010). Much ado about nothing: The misestimation and overinterpretation of violent video game effects in eastern and western nations: Comment on Anderson et al. (2010). Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 174-178.

Fletcher, L. (2015). 14 mass murders linked to violent video games. Charisma News. Retrieved from

Funk, J. B., Buchman, D. D., Jenks, J., & Bechtoldt, H. (2004). Playing violent video games, desensitization, and moral evaluation in children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24(4), 413-436.

Gilbert, B. (2018). In the wake of Parkland, Trump is meeting with leaders from the video game industry to discuss gun violence — but don't expect anything to come of it. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Gunter, B. (2016). Does playing video games make players more violent?. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Hamilton, A. (2010, June 7). Violent video games may increase aggression in some but not others, says new research. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from

Hastings, M., Tangney, J., & Stuewig, J. (2008). Psychopathy and identification of facial expressions of emotion. Personality And Individual Differences, 44(7), 1474-1483.

Infinity Ward. (2009). Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 [Video game]. Woodland Hills: Activision.

Jakobwitz, S., & Egan, V. (2006). The DT and normal personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(2), 331-339.

Jonason, P. K., & Webster, G. D. (2010). The dirty dozen: A concise measure of the DT. Psychological Assessment, 22(2), 420-432.

Markey, P. M., & Markey, C, N. (2010). Vulnerability to violent video games: A review and integration of personality research. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 82-91.

Markey, P. M., & Scherer, K. (2009). An examination of psychoticism and motion capture controls as moderators of the effects of violent video games. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 407-411.

Moss, S. (2016). Measures of aggression. Sicotests. Retrieved from

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, M. K. (2002). The DT of personality: Narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 556-563.

Peckham, M. (2013, October 8). Researcher says linking video games to gun violence is a ‘classic illusory correlation’. Time. Retrieved from

Phan, M. (2011). Video gaming trends: Violent, action/adventure games are most popular. Software Usability Research Lab. Retrieved from

Rockstar North. (2013). Grand Theft Auto V [Video game]. New York: Rockstar Games.

Rubinstein, E. A. (1983). Television and behavior: Research conclusions of the 1982 NIMH report and their policy implications. American Psychologist, 38(7), 820-825.

Sherry, J. L. (2001). The effects of violent video games on aggression: A meta-analysis. Human communication research, 27(3), 409-431.

Siddiqui, S. & Solon, O. (2018). Trump meeting with video game bosses revives tenuous link to gun violence. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Vincent, J. (2017). Long-term US study finds no links between video games and violence. The Independent. Retrieved from

Urbaniak, C., & Plous, S. (2013). Research randomizer (Version 4.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved from
March 11, 2019