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Journal Article


Dominick JR. J. Commun. 1984; 34(2): 136-147.


(Copyright © 1984, International Communication Association, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






VioLit summary:

The aim of this paper by Dominick was to examine the effects of videogames and television violence upon levels of self-esteem and aggression in adolescents. The study examined both the stimulation theory of viewing violence, which suggests that viewing such scenes could increase the probability of commission of actual violence, and catharsis theory, suggesting that viewing violence reduces levels of aggression by purging the viewer of aggressive feelings.

The author employed a quasi-experimental cross-sectional design with a non-probability sample of tenth and eleventh grade adolescents at three high schools in northeast Georgia. Of the 292 children who agreed to participate, 250 survey questionnaires that could be used in the study were returned. Measures included total amount of time spent per week playing videogames at arcades, and the total amount of money spent per week in these activities. Viewing of television violence was measured by how often each subject watched each of 24 programs, 16 of which were rated as above average in violence by the National Coalition on Television Violence. General television viewing was measured by number of hours spent watching television on an average day, as well as the amount of time spent watching on the day before the survey. School performance was measured with average grades received by the subject, and a measure of socio-economic status (SES) was obtained via use of the Occupational Prestige Scale. Aggression was measured with three types of question. The first involved hypothetical responses to various hypothetical situations, ranging from backing out of the situation to fighting. The second consisted of six items that dealt with interpersonal relations with others and manifest physical aggression, and attitudes to fighting. The third measure of aggression was an index of aggressive delinquency, according to the frequency with which the subject engaged in three violent acts - fighting with several people, hurting someone for revenge and fighting with another student. Self-esteem was measured with four items based upon a scale developed by Rosenberg, with subjects agreeing or disagreeing with statements about self-worth. Analysis was conducted both for the overall sample and separately for boys and for girls, and included correlations, examination of frequencies, ANOVA and Chi-Square.

The author found that 24% of the girls and 18% of the boys did not play videogames, with average time playing being less than an hour for girls and an hour and a half for boys. Girls spent an average of $1.50 each week on videogames, with only 6% playing alone, whilst boys spent just over $2.00, with 21% attending the arcade by themselves. 36% of the girls' families owned home systems, with 55% of the boys' families having videogames at home - a variable that was negatively related to school performance for boys. Boys viewed more television violence than did girls, although this finding was only weakly significant (p<.10), and there were no differences on measures of general viewing. Boys scored significantly higher than girls on the hypothetical aggression index, on the manifest physical aggression measure, and on the aggressive delinquency scale. They also scored significantly higher on the measure of self-esteem, and showed a relationship between self-esteem and videogame playing - boys with lower self-esteem spent more money each week on videogames. For both boys and girls, measures of videogame activity correlated significantly with both measures of general television viewing, as well as with the index of violent television viewing. For both genders, then, those adolescents who watched more violent television also spent more time playing violent videogames. Whilst no relationship was found between school performance or socio-economic status and videogame playing for boys, for girls there was a significant inverse relationship between time spent playing videogames and SES. The hypothetical aggression measure was not related to measures of general or violent television viewing, but violent television was related to manifest physical aggression for the overall sample. The manifest aggression measure was also related to general television viewing, although this relationship held only for girls. The aggressive delinquency scale showed no association with violent or general television for either boys or girls, although there was a significant relationship between aggressive delinquency and videogame playing for boys. No relationship was found between self-esteem and videogame playing for girls, although for boys, general television, videogame playing and SES were all inversely related to self-esteem. The overall correlations between television violence or videogame playing and aggression were modest, and were dependent upon the gender of the subject. For boys, videogame playing correlated with aggressive delinquency, even when controlling for school performance and violent television viewing. For girls, it correlated with aggressive delinquency and manifest aggression, although when control variables were added the relationships became non-significant. Both the videogame playing and the violent television variables together could only explain from 3% to 6% of the variation in aggression, with the best predictor for all three measures of aggression being school performance, accounting for 7% to 14% of the variance.

The author recommended future research be conducted using subjects from various age groups in different settings with more accurate and thorough measures of aggression.

This study represents an interesting examination of the relationships among videogame playing, television viewing and aggression. However, the use of a sample from one location with subjects of the same age group might have resulted in either an overestimation or an underestimation of the true effects of violent media upon aggressive behavior. The use of self-report data might have led to inaccurate findings, and the measures of aggression might not have covered all types of aggressive tendencies. Internal validity, therefore, might not be of the highest order. However, the study provides a good basis for further research. (CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

KW - Georgia
KW - Grade 10
KW - Grade 11
KW - Senior High School Student
KW - Late Adolescence
KW - Early Adolescence
KW - Exposure to Violence
KW - Video Game Violence
KW - Aggression Causes
KW - Juvenile Aggression
KW - Media Violence Effects
KW - Television Viewing
KW - Television Violence
KW - Juvenile Self-Esteem


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