The current paper addresses the associations between video game content (i.e., physically aggressive, relationally aggressive, and prosocial) and physical aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior in two distinct developmental periods. The purpose of the paper is to test whether playing video games with a particular type of content influences behaviors over time, or whether individuals who have higher levels of physical aggression, relational aggression, or prosocial behavior prefer to play games with similar content. Two theories will be simultaneously examined and tested in order to determine the relative merit in using each in research examining the relationships between video game content and positive and negative behaviors. More specifically, this paper will address the General Aggression Model/General Learning Model (GAM/GLM) and the Uses and Gratification Theory. The GAM/GLM, at their core, predict that exposure to video game content will build a cognitive schema which will guide how an individual should behave when confronted with a later social encounter (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Contrarily, Uses and Gratification would suggest that a person chooses to play video games with a particular type of content, and that video games should not influence behavior. Specifically, according to the theory, individuals should seek out video games in order to fulfill their inward feelings and motivations (e.g., an individual with aggressive tendencies would play games with more violent and aggressive content) (Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1973; Whiting & Williams, 2013). A careful analysis showed a significant relationship between each type of video game content and its' corresponding behavior among adolescents, which supports the assumptions of the GAM and GLM. There was no relationship between video game content and behavior among preschoolers. With the exception of relational aggression of physically aggressive content, there was no support for Uses and Gratification Theory, in that preschoolers' and adolescents' levels of physical aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior were not related to the preference for video games with different types of content. The analysis adds significantly to the current literature by showing a relationship between video game content and behavior over a four year period.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Smith, Nathan J., "Does Video Game Content Matter? An Examination of Two Competing Ideas" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 6026.
physical aggression, relational aggression, prosocial behavior, general aggression model, uses and gratification theory, video game/s, video game content, panel data, longitudinal