Anger personality trait a factor in VG influence on aggressive behaviour (Giumetti & Markey, 2007)

I think my first blog entry wasn’t that great, maybe I should continue and improve.

Now continuing on to another study that’s published in the Journal of Personality Research by Giumetti & Markey.

In this study, Giumetti and Markey looked into the relationship between personality trait of anger and aggressive thoughts after playing video games, again they based the research from the General Aggression Model by Craig Anderson.
They found that anger has an influence on the influence of violent video games on players. In terms of personality, the more angrier players are, the more aggressive than non-angry players.

From past studies on anger personality and the GAM, people who are easily angered than others are more likely to be more violent. They see situations in a hostile manner, so someone spills a drink to a guy and he sees this as provocation or an insult. A third factor is that anger gets you aroused which that arousal would in turn fuel aggressive behaviour if given the opportunity like a provocation. In essence, our personality level of anger influences our interpretation of situations, our judgement and our actions.

In relation to VG, this study examined whether anger has a role in violent or aggressive behaviour. So they have 3 hypotheses to test:
1- Players who just played violent video games will likely respond to ambiguous stories in an aggressive manner.
2- When responding these stories, angrier players are more aggressive than the non-angry players.
3- which in turn leads the idea that anger is one of the factors that influence our reaction to video games.

To explain how relevant it is to test, the first hypothesis can be explained by an example: when you’re hungry the first thing you want to say or think is food. Or when you’re asked to make a story after watching an episode of Star Trek you’re likely to use material that are fresh in your mind. Or like Jack Thompson interpreting ambiguous stories that somehow relates to video games being the cause of bad things, no matter how trivial the story is. (something called closed-mindness)

Hypothesis 2: Even though you’re calm and you have an angry personality. But, you might not notice that you’re still seeing things in red. Along with arousal, you might feel more aggressive in seeing those stories end not so happily.

Hypothesis 3: Of course, violent video games alone don’t directly influence our behaviour. Some aspect of our personality does have a role in our behaviour. And so does being a jerk is a personality.

So how does the researchers do their study?

Participants: College students (167, equal gender distribution)
Questionnaires: Demographics (like what’s their age, gender and stuff)
The Aggression Questionnaire: asked straight forward questions about anger. Remember participants are given full confidentiality and anonymity. So lying about their anger is not their primary motive. Of course, they may not know about themselves very much, but that’s a global problem and it can’t be helped. Personally, I’d prefer giving the questionnaire online, they’re probably more honest than in person. An implicit or a less obvious questionnaire may be good, but if both questionnaires give the same results then it doesn’t matter if it’s obvious or not.

There are six games used and the console of choice is the Xbox. The games are classified into two groups: Violent (Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Doom 3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein) and non-violent (Tetris World, Top Spin Tennis, Project Gotham Racing). Each participant plays one game from either category for 15 minutes.

After playing, they get to read and respond to 3 ambiguous stories. So a normal story where something bad happens to the main character and it is up to the participant on how they would respond in that given situation. For example, you got into a car accident, how would you act? Participants give 20 responses which are scored from 0 to 20 on a aggression scale. So each response is coded aggressive (1 point) or not (0 point). In total, scores can range from 0 to 60.


Well it’s done in a lab and not in your living room, it’s done with college students and not teenager or kids. So any lab experiment does not do well into the outside world.

The stories asked what you think on what will you act, but not what you actually do. Although, we can make some connections by asking people who just watched a violent sports match, such as boxing, and got into an car accident or stories similar to the study and ask them and witnesses about their actions. Did they act aggressively or non-aggressively?


Analyses of the data include Pearson’s correlation, which found no correlation between anger and aggression; a step-wise regression which found that anger is a moderating factor of violent video game effect on aggressive behaviour. To determine how much anger moderates this effect, three anger groups are created: high (.75 standard deviation above the mean) , moderate, low(.75 standard deviation below the mean). They found that both high and moderate anger are affected, but low anger persons are not affected by violent video games. As for the non-violent video games, there were no differences between the anger groups.
Future study?

From the last paragraph, we might asked the police’s permission to review drivers’ testimony and behaviour in car accidents. By comparing those who acted violently and those who don’t. We might be able to investigate some key factors like: Are they sober? Did they came from a session like watched or participated in violent entertainment? Did they came from a non-violent session, like yoga? Did they have a history of violence? Etc.

Other readings about the study: Ars Technica

Giumetti, G. W. & Markey, P. M. (2007) Violent video games and anger as predictors of aggression. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 1234-1243.


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