Virtually Justifiable Homicide: The Effects of Prosocial Contexts on the Link Between Violent Video Games, Aggression, and Prosocial and Hostile Cognition

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Previous work has shown that playing violent video games can stimulate aggression toward others. The current research has identified a potential exception. Participants who played a violent game in which the violence had an explicitly prosocial motive (i.e., protecting a friend and furthering his nonviolent goals) were found to show lower short‐term aggression (Study 1) and show higher levels of prosocial cognition (Study 2) than individuals who played a violent game in which the violence was motivated by more morally ambiguous motives. Thus, violent video games that are framed in an explicitly prosocial context may evoke more prosocial sentiments and thereby mitigate some of the short‐term effects on aggression observed in previous research. While these findings are promising regarding the potential aggression‐reducing effects of prosocial context, caution is still warranted as a small effect size difference (d ¼ .2–.3), although nonsignificant, was still observed between those who played the explicitly prosocial violent game and those who played a nonviolent game; indicating that aggressive behavior was not completely eliminated by the inclusion of a prosocial context for the violence


Aggressive Behavior



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