Research Article
No access
Published Online: 3 April 2014

Who Believes Electronic Games Cause Real World Aggression?

Publication: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 17, Issue Number 4


Electronic games have rapidly become a popular form of human recreation, and the immersive experiences they provide millions have led many to voice concerns that some games, and violent ones in particular, may negatively impact society. Increasingly heated debates make it clear that gaming-related aggression is a topic that elicits strong opinions. Despite a complex and growing literature concerned with violent games, little is known empirically about why some ardently believe, whereas others dismiss, notions that this form of leisure is a source of aggression. The present research recruited three nationally representative samples to investigate this understudied topic. Results showed that belief was normally distributed across the population, prominent among demographic cohorts who did not grow up with games and those who lack concrete gaming experience. Results are discussed in the context of this developing research area, wider social science perspectives, and the place of electronic games in society.

Get full access to this article

View all available purchase options and get full access to this article.


Entertainment Software Association (2012) Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Kent SL. (2001) The ultimate history of video games. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Anderson CA, Gentile DA, Buckley KE. (2007) Violent video game effects on children and adolescents: theory, research, and public policy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Olson CK, Kutner LA, Baer L, et al. M-rated video games and aggressive or problem behavior among young adolescents. Applied Developmental Science 2009; 13:188–198.
Anderson CA, Carnagey NL, Flanagan M, et al. Violent video games: specific effects of violent content on aggressive thoughts and behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 2004; 36:200–251.
Adachi PJC, Willoughby T. The effect of video game competition and violence on aggressive behavior: which characteristic has the greatest influence? Psychology of Violence 2011; 1:259–274.
Anderson CA, Sakamoto A, Gentile DA, et al. Longitudinal effects of violent video games on aggression in Japan and the United States. Pediatrics 2008; 122:1067–1072.
Wallenius M, Punamäki R-L. Digital game violence and direct aggression in adolescence: a longitudinal study of the roles of sex, age, and parent-child communication. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 2008; 29:286–294.
Anderson CA, Shibuya A, Ihori N, et al. Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: a meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin 2010; 136:151–173.
Sherry J. (2007) Violent video games and aggression: why can't we find links? In Preiss R, Gayle B, Burrell N, Allen M, Bryant J, eds. Mass media effects research: advances through meta-analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 231–248.
Denniston L. (2010) Argument preview: kids and video games: SCOTUS blog. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011) (accessed July 1, 2013).
Ivory JD, Kalyanaraman S. Video games make people violent—well, maybe not that game: effects of content and person abstraction on perceptions of violent video games' effects and support of censorship. Communication Reports 2009; 22:1–12.
Harris Interactive (2013) Majority of Americans see connection between video games and violent behavior in teens. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Keeter S, Christian L. (2012) A comparison of results from surveys by the Pew Research Center and Google consumer surveys. (accessed July 1, 2013).
McDonald P, Mohebbi M, Slatkin B. (2012) Comparing Google consumer surveys to existing probability and non-probability based Internet surveys. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Elson M, Ferguson CJ. Twenty-five years of research on violence in digital games and aggression: empirical evidence, perspectives, and a debate gone astray. European Psychologist 2013; in press.
Lucas K, Sherry JL. Sex differences in video game play: a communication-based explanation. Communication Research 2004; 31:499–523.
Peters CS, Malesky AM. Problematic usage among highly-engaged players of massively multiplayer online role playing games. CyberPsychology & Behavior 2008; 4:481–484.
Kneer J, Glock S, Beskes S, et al. Are digital games perceived as fun or danger? Supporting and suppressing different game-related concepts. CyberPsychology, Behavior, & Social Networking 2012; 15:251–256.
Kneer J, Munko D, Glock S, et al. Defending the doomed: implicit strategies concerning protection of first person shooter games. CyberPsychology, Behavior, & Social Networking 2012; 15:151–156.
Kutner LA, Olson CK, Warner DE, et al. Parents' and sons' perspectives on video game play: a qualitative study. Journal of Adolescent Research 2008; 23:76–96.
Cohen S. (2002) Folk devils and moral panics: creation of mods and rockers. London: Routledge.
Ferguson CJ. The school/violent game link: causal relationship or moral panic? Journal of Investigative & Offender Profiling 2008; 5:25–37.
Griffiths DN. (2012) Modern warfare and moral panics—a very old pattern resurfaces. Forbes Magazine. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Schiesel S. (2008) Author faults a game, and gamers flame back. The New York Times. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Ferguson CJ. (2013) Don't blame video games for real-world violence: the chronicle of higher education. (accessed July 1, 2013).
Person C. (2013) Breaking down the absurd anatomy of a video game scare piece: Kotaku. (accessed July, 1, 2013).
Ferguson CJ, Dyck D. Paradigm change in aggression research: the time has come to retire the General Aggression Model. Aggression & Violent Behavior 2012; 17:220–228.

Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 17Issue Number 4April 2014
Pages: 228 - 234
PubMed: 24256132


Published online: 3 April 2014
Published in print: April 2014
Published ahead of print: 20 November 2013


Request permissions for this article.




Andrew K. Przybylski
Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Address correspondence to:Dr. Andrew K. PrzybylskiOxford Internet InstituteUniversity of Oxford1 St. GilesOxford, OX1 3JSUnited Kingdom
E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

Metrics & Citations



Export citation

Select the format you want to export the citations of this publication.

View Options

Get Access

Access content

To read the fulltext, please use one of the options below to sign in or purchase access.

Society Access

If you are a member of a society that has access to this content please log in via your society website and then return to this publication.

Restore your content access

Enter your email address to restore your content access:

Note: This functionality works only for purchases done as a guest. If you already have an account, log in to access the content to which you are entitled.

View options


View PDF/ePub

Full Text

View Full Text







Copy the content Link

Share on social media

Back to Top