Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Decades of research on the effects of media violence have shown that exposure to violence in the media is related to increased aggression, decreased prosocial behavior, and decreased empathy. Video games, which contain some of the most graphic, realistic, justified, and rewarded aggression have been shown to increase aggressive behavior and decrease prosocial behavior. Researchers suggest that emotional face processing and inhibitory control may be important factors associated with aggressive behavior and empathy; however, few researchers have examined these variables in chronic and nonchronic violent video game players. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to understand differences in gamers and nongamers in emotional face processing and inhibitory control at baseline and after exposure to a violent video game.

Electroencephalography (EEG) methods were employed to examine the neural correlates of emotion face processing and inhibitory control in these populations, specifically the N170 and N200 ERP components were examined while participants completed a stop-signal task using emotional faces. At baseline, gamers and nongamers performed equally well at a gender discrimination task and at inhibiting behavior, but gamers had significant reductions in their ACC generated N200 component, reflective of decreased cognitive resources being allocated to inhibition. Likewise, gamers and nongamers displayed more negative N170 amplitude in response to threat-related faces; however, after playing a violent video game, gamers no longer distinguished between happy and threat-related faces in their N170 amplitude. Implications are discussed.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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