Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Pietras

Third Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Zoann Snyder


Each year, interactive video game technology becomes more and more advanced, offering more lifelike environments, immersive experiences, and realistic situations in which the player must decide how to act. As a result of these technological advancements, the violent content in video games has become increasingly realistic and graphic. Unlike the passive viewing experience of television, video game players adopt roles in which they initiate actions and direct the progression of video game experience. In these active roles, they may engage in and be rewarded for violent acts against fictitious video game characters or other online players. Furthermore, the videogame industry has grown over 200% in revenue in less than ten years, and now outperforms the movie box office industry. However, technological advances have quickly outpaced our understanding of the effects of certain types of adult content, including violent content, on the game player. Despite the absence of sound scientific research on the effects of violent game play on aggressive behavior or attitudes of the game player, legislation continues to be proposed attempting to outlaw certain types of games for certain age groups, only to be struck down on first amendment grounds. To date, the majority of the research on this topic has been conducted before the games themselves were technologically advanced enough to draw meaningful conclusions; the few (approximately 10) more recent studies of the impact of videogame play on aggressive behavior and attitudes still have several shortcomings, mostly in their choice of dependent measures. The purpose of this investigation was to build upon the small research base related to effects of violent video games on behavior, attitudes, and physiology by adopting several dependent measures that have not used in previous studies, including realistic behavioral simulations, computer simulations of aggression, and vignette-based measures of aggressive attitudes. Additionally, this study differed from the existing research base in the rigorous pre-experiment independent variable selection that took place. This study is a methodological refinement and extension of work done by Smallwood, Fuqua & Dagen (2005), which itself improved upon the methodologies employed by other studies, such as Anderson & Dill (2000), Deselms & Altman (2003) and Sheese & Graziano (2005).

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons