Relations between violent video games, family violence or intrinsic violence motivation (Ferguson et al., 2008)

WHY at this time?! I have my thesis presentation due tomorrow, my draft paper due the day after and now Brandon Erickson posted a paper by Christopher Ferguson, whose growing presence in my Video Game Psych-Research library is getting my full attention. But why at this time?!

Someone at mentioned getting a copy of the paper, but I think the publishers would want monetary compensation. Now that’s a big problem where journalists can’t get their hands on first-hand scientific information, but that’s another story. But I’m an undergrad with access…

Well for now I’m going to skip the rationale and theoretical part of the paper, it’s best to read Brandon’s post before moving on to my post here. Anyways I skimmed on to the methods and results section and skipped their discussion or interpretation part.


Two studies examined the relationship between exposure to violent video games and aggression or violence in the laboratory and in real life. Study 1 participants were either randomized or allowed to choose to play a violent or nonviolent game. Although males were more aggressive than females, neither randomized exposure to violent-video-game conditions nor previous real-life exposure to violent video games caused any differences in aggression. Study 2 examined correlations between trait aggression, violent criminal acts, and exposure to both violent games and family violence. Results indicated that trait aggression, family violence, and male gender were predictive of violent crime, but exposure to violent games was not. Structural equation modeling suggested that family violence and innate aggression as predict.

Study 1


Participants: 101 undergrads from Texas and Wisconsin. Near equal gender ratio, with a higher female proportion. The majority of the sample were white or hispanic, mean age 20 years old.


Trait aggression: 15-items on a 5-point likert scale. Used in previous studies.

Video game habits: a general measure of video game playing habits using likert scales as participants’ answers, previously used in other studies (references needed).

Aggressive behaviour: the noise-blasting paradigm where participants had to blast a noise before they get blasted by an opponent. Also used in previous studies (references needed).

Video games used: Now I know why Myst and Doom were used, they were primarily focused on the first-person perspective as a factor in aggression. Seems logical. Anyways, the game used are Medal of Honor: Allied Assault as the violent condition (incidentally, I was just replaying that game) and Myst III: Exile as the non-violent condition (had that game in the dust for years).

Follow-up survey: hmmm… I’ll fill this part later or someone else will.


Participants were given random assignment to the violent, non-violent condition or the “choice” condition of which they can choose either non-violent or violent game of which they are given three sentences descriptions of the game they will play (I think that’s how it’s done). Play time lasts 45 minutes (hey! that’s good!) and after that the noise-blasting paradigm for 25 trials.


Here goes nothing: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is rated to be more exciting, familiar and less frustrating than Myst III. So these variables are taken into account in later analyses. I’ll give my comments on what happens if you ignore these variables.

Video game preferences: for those in the “choice” group, logistic regression analyses was used and the results are: gender seemed to be the only significant factor, men are likely to choose Medal of Honor while women are likely to choose Myst III. (Does the author need to show the power and effect size of their results? I should ask around)

Video games and aggression: using an ANCOVA with ethnicity and excitment as covariates. Results are: Main effect of gender, that is men blasted noise more loudly than women. No video game interactions or main effect were present, so video game had no significant effect. Then they went on talking some statistical stuff that makes me shut down.

Real-Life violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior: (that subtitle confused me) Again using ANCOVA as a the analytical tool. Huh… there’s a lot of numbers and details, but I think they found that none of the variables in questions has any significant effects or relations to aggressive behaviours as measured by the noise-blast task.

Moving on to study 2


Participants: 428 undergrads from Florida. Near equal gender ratio, with women being more numerous. Hispanics (52%) consititued half of the sample with whites as second (38%). Mean age 20.


Trait aggression and video game habits: same things from the first study.

Family violence exposure: using a under development questionnaire, called the Family Conflict Scale in order measure and I quote: “for direct physical and sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, neglect and failure to provide for basic needs, exposure to drug abuse, use of spanking in discipline, verbal abuse and insulting language, and the degree to which education was valued in the family…” and also whether the participants felt they were loved by their parents or guardian. the Scale consisted of 49 items. I going to take this scale with grains of salt because some people may not be comfortable in answering personal or embarrasing questions, even in private.

Violent criminal behavior: A self-report for criminal behavior for the past year. Consisted of 35-items. Much of the descriptions of this measure seemed to tell me to take it as much as salt as the family violence exposure questionnaire.

Procedure: participants just fill out questionnaires.


Development of trait aggression: so huh…. using hierarchical multiple regression. They found that being male, exposure to verbal abuse and physical abuse were significant predictors for trait aggression. nothing else. According to the authors, this model accounted for 18% of the variance (not sure of this link) in aggression scores (experts needed).

Development of violent criminal behavior: Right now my head is spinning for skimming the article, so being male and exposed to physical abuse are the highest predictors in this model. Along with trait aggression and the perception of parental affection. An interesting result: the interaction between trait aggression and violent video game exposure is also a significant predictor to violent criminal behaviours. This model accounted for 22% of the variance in criminal behaviours (experts needed).

They then used structural equation modeling testing between the general aggression model and the catalyst model. I’ll write this later once I read the rationale part.

Ferguson, C. J., Rueda, S. M., Cruz, A. M., Ferguson, D. E., Fritz, S., & Smith, S. M. (2008). Violent video games and aggression: Causal relationship or byproduct of family violence and intrinsic violence motivation? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(3), 311-332.

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