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Null Effects of Game Violence, Game Difficulty, and 2D:4D Digit Ratio on Aggressive Behavior

Joseph Hilgard, Christopher R Engelhardt, Jeffrey N Rouder, Ines L Segert, Bruce D Bartholow
Psychological Science 2019 March 7, : 956797619829688
Researchers have suggested that acute exposure to violent video games is a cause of aggressive behavior. We tested this hypothesis by using violent and nonviolent games that were closely matched, collecting a large sample, and using a single outcome. We randomly assigned 275 male undergraduates to play a first-person-shooter game modified to be either violent or less violent and hard or easy. After completing the game-play session, participants were provoked by a confederate and given an opportunity to behave aggressively. Neither game violence nor game difficulty predicted aggressive behavior. Incidentally, we found that 2D:4D digit ratio, thought to index prenatal testosterone exposure, did not predict aggressive behavior. Results do not support acute violent-game exposure and low 2D:4D ratio as causes of aggressive behavior.


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