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Study links violent behaviour to individual personalities

Research claims media links to violent videogames may "obscure a large portion of the equation"

A new study into violent behaviour and the possible influence of videogames has concluded that effects are likely to be limited only to those whose "personalities are predisposed to be highly neurotic, less agreeable and less conscientious."

The research, conducted by Dr Patrick Markey of Villanova University and Dr Charlotte Markey of Rutgers Univeristy, ties in with prior findings involving children exposed to violent TV programmes and cartoons with similar results.

"Individuals are not 'blank slates,'" explained Patrick Markey. "One's general disposition moderates the effect of violent media. General policy recommendations based on the notion that violent videogames (VVGs) are simply 'bad' and individuals who play violent videogames will inevitably become aggressive appear to be unwarranted.

"Instead it is crucial to consider the dispositional characteristics of the person playing the videogame when predicting the type of effect the violent videogame might have on his or her hostility."

Specifically the research indicated a "perfect storm" of personality traits that could lead to vulnerability - a high level of neuroticism, low agreeableness and low conscientiousness.

Violent and non-violent games were then played by 118 teenagers, and hostility levels assessed, with those individuals displaying the "perfect storm" traits most adversely affected - while participants "who did not possess these personality characteristics were either unaffected or only slightly negatively affected".

"Although the incidences of violence, particularly school violence, linked to videogames are alarming, what should perhaps surprise us more is that there are not more VVG-driven violent episodes," the report concludes. "Given the number of youths who regularly engage in VVG play and the general concern regarding this media, it would seem likely that resulting violent episodes would be a regular occurrence. And yet, daily reports of mass violence are not reported.

"It appears that the vast majority of individuals exposed to VVGs do not become violent in the 'real world.' Thus, the questions for researchers, policymakers, and laypersons become: 'Why do some individuals appear to be affected by VVGs while others are not?' and 'Who is most likely to be affected by VVGs?'"

The full text of the report is available on the apa.org website.

Phil Elliott avatar

Phil Elliott