Competence-impeding electronic games and players' aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors

Andrew K. Przybylski, C. Scott Rigby, Edward L. Deci, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent studies have examined whether electronic games foster aggression. At present, the extent to which games contribute to aggression and the mechanisms through which such links may exist are hotly debated points. In current research we tested a motivational hypothesis derived from self-determination theory-that gaming would be associated with indicators of human aggression to the degree that the interactive elements of games serve to impede players' fundamental psychological need for competence. Seven studies, using multiple methods to manipulate player competence and a range of approaches for evaluating aggression, indicated that competence-impeding play led to higher levels of aggressive feelings, easier access to aggressive thoughts, and a greater likelihood of enacting aggressive behavior. Results indicated that player perceived competence was positively related to gaming motivation, a factor that was, in turn, negatively associated with player aggression. Overall, this pattern of effects was found to be independent of the presence or absence of violent game contents. We discuss the results in respect to research focused on psychological need frustration and satisfaction and as they regard gaming-related aggression literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-457
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume106
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Competence
  • Electronic games
  • Motivation

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