There are severalresearch studies regarding the correlation between video games and aggressivebehaviour however, there is no clear understanding about the effect this has onboth males and females (adolescents and adults). There are a few studiesregarding this issue but the findings are mixed hence why Bartholow &Anderson (2002) conducted a quantitative study examining the association ofvideo games violence between males and females. Anderson & Dill (2000,cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002) findings showed that there was noreliable difference concerning both sexes (college student participants) wheninvestigating the effect on video games, on the other hand another studyoutcome contradicted this as it suggested the opposite (Cooper & Mackie,1986 cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002).
Their research was conducted onchildren instead of college students and concluded that girls were moreeffected by violent video games in comparison to boys. There are many factorsthat could have influenced the results for these investigations such as weakindependent variable manipulations, young participants and aggression measures.Another significant research study Bartholow & Anderson (2002) focused onwas regarding participants previous experience of playing video games and howit may influence the participant’s aggression.After gatheringbackground research, Bartholow & Anderson (2002) formed a hypothesisstating that more aggression would be shown by participants after playing aviolent game as opposed to participants that played the non-violent video game.
As they did not have definite results from prior research studies, they wereunsure whether the effect would be alike for both sexes.Bartholow (2002) decided to investigate on undergraduate students, 22 males and21 females aged between 18-23 years. The reason for this is because otherstudies researched on young participants, who still had to fully develop tocomprehend the difference between reality and fantasy (Smith & Donnerstein,1998 cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002). They all had played both MortalKombat and PGA Tournament Golf (games used in this study) before but it wasmade sure that these research participants were not habitual game players. Theselection of the violent video game (Mortal Kombat) was based on how popularthe game was (Elmer-Dewitt, 1993 as cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002)and the intensity of violence it contained.
The non-violent game chosen wasbased off how engaging and fascinating it was according to the authors.The retaliationreaction time task is what determined the aggression between males and females,it involved playing a game where participants had to set punishmentlevels. It consisted of two phases – thesecond phase being the measure of aggressive behaviour.
The two dependentvariables of this investigation were, mean intensity levels measured in a scalefrom 0-10 and counts of high-intensity settings measured in a scale of 8 orhigher. The reason why the high-intensity settings started from 8 was becausethe noise on the decibel range (95-105 dB) was assumed to be quite punishinghence why it was measured as an aggressive response. The findingssupported Bartholow & Anderson’s (2002) hypothesis as participants showedmore aggression after playing the violent game in comparison to the non-violentgame. Higher levels of noise punishment were set by participants who playedMortal Komabt than the participants that played PGA Tournament Golf. Analysing the sex differences, men showedmore aggression as they set higher noise levels to punish the other opponent (confederate)than the women.
Several limitationsof this research can be pointed out. An example is that the video games mayhave influenced the sex differences as the Mortal Kombat violent game containedalmost all male characters signifying that the male participants may have beenmore involved in the game than females as they could identify more with thecharacters. Another similar factor that could have impacted the results is thatonly a female confederate was used in the retaliation task. This could haveaffected the aggressive responses shown by males as prior research conducted byEagly & Steefen (1986 as cited in Bartholow & Anderson, 2002)discovered that people are more likely to behave in an aggressive manner towardsthe same sex than the opposite sex. Female participantsmay have been less probable to increase the high-intensity noise level settingsas they may have been less engaged in the golf game. This is because the maleparticipants liked playing the PGA Tournament Golf game whereas, the femaleparticipants did not – implied by participants during the debriefing. Thesefactors create greater impact on men than women.
The results gained from thisinvestigation cannot be generalised as the sample conducted on was relativelysmall. Duration of game playing could also have been a limitation as 10 minutesmay not have been a long period of time to initiate aggressive responses.Conducting thisresearch on a larger sample and using different games would create a betterunderstanding regarding the effects of violent video games on both sexes.Further research could involve including direct and indirect forms ofaggressive behaviour.