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There are several
research studies regarding the correlation between video games and aggressive
behaviour however, there is no clear understanding about the effect this has on
both males and females (adolescents and adults). There are a few studies
regarding this issue but the findings are mixed hence why Bartholow &
Anderson (2002) conducted a quantitative study examining the association of
video games violence between males and females. Anderson & Dill (2000,
cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002) findings showed that there was no
reliable difference concerning both sexes (college student participants) when
investigating the effect on video games, on the other hand another study
outcome contradicted this as it suggested the opposite (Cooper & Mackie,
1986 cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002). Their research was conducted on
children instead of college students and concluded that girls were more
effected by violent video games in comparison to boys. There are many factors
that could have influenced the results for these investigations such as weak
independent variable manipulations, young participants and aggression measures.
Another significant research study Bartholow & Anderson (2002) focused on
was regarding participants previous experience of playing video games and how
it may influence the participant’s aggression.

After gathering
background research, Bartholow & Anderson (2002) formed a hypothesis
stating that more aggression would be shown by participants after playing a
violent game as opposed to participants that played the non-violent video game.
As they did not have definite results from prior research studies, they were
unsure whether the effect would be alike for both sexes.

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Bartholow &
Anderson (2002) decided to investigate on undergraduate students, 22 males and
21 females aged between 18-23 years. The reason for this is because other
studies researched on young participants, who still had to fully develop to
comprehend the difference between reality and fantasy (Smith & Donnerstein,
1998 cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002). They all had played both Mortal
Kombat and PGA Tournament Golf (games used in this study) before but it was
made sure that these research participants were not habitual game players. The
selection of the violent video game (Mortal Kombat) was based on how popular
the game was (Elmer-Dewitt, 1993 as cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002)
and the intensity of violence it contained. The non-violent game chosen was
based off how engaging and fascinating it was according to the authors.

The retaliation
reaction time task is what determined the aggression between males and females,
it involved playing a game where participants had to set punishment
levels.  It consisted of two phases – the
second phase being the measure of aggressive behaviour. The two dependent
variables of this investigation were, mean intensity levels measured in a scale
from 0-10 and counts of high-intensity settings measured in a scale of 8 or
higher. The reason why the high-intensity settings started from 8 was because
the noise on the decibel range (95-105 dB) was assumed to be quite punishing
hence why it was measured as an aggressive response. 

The findings
supported Bartholow & Anderson’s (2002) hypothesis as participants showed
more aggression after playing the violent game in comparison to the non-violent
game. Higher levels of noise punishment were set by participants who played
Mortal Komabt than the participants that played PGA Tournament Golf.  Analysing the sex differences, men showed
more aggression as they set higher noise levels to punish the other opponent (confederate)
than the women.

Several limitations
of this research can be pointed out. An example is that the video games may
have influenced the sex differences as the Mortal Kombat violent game contained
almost all male characters signifying that the male participants may have been
more involved in the game than females as they could identify more with the
characters. Another similar factor that could have impacted the results is that
only a female confederate was used in the retaliation task. This could have
affected the aggressive responses shown by males as prior research conducted by
Eagly & Steefen (1986 as cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002)
discovered that people are more likely to behave in an aggressive manner towards
the same sex than the opposite sex.

Female participants
may have been less probable to increase the high-intensity noise level settings
as they may have been less engaged in the golf game. This is because the male
participants liked playing the PGA Tournament Golf game whereas, the female
participants did not – implied by participants during the debriefing. These
factors create greater impact on men than women. The results gained from this
investigation cannot be generalised as the sample conducted on was relatively
small. Duration of game playing could also have been a limitation as 10 minutes
may not have been a long period of time to initiate aggressive responses.

Conducting this
research on a larger sample and using different games would create a better
understanding regarding the effects of violent video games on both sexes.
Further research could involve including direct and indirect forms of
aggressive behaviour.

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