Video games and Aggressive Behavior

Review of Greitemeyer, Tobias. “Intense acts of violence during video game play make daily life aggression appear innocuous: A new mechanism why violent video games increase aggression.” Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology 50, (January 2014): 52-56. PsycINFO, EBSCOhost (accessed May 22, 2014).

By James Blough

The article written by Tobias Greitemeyer is on the effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior and the perception of aggressive behavior. The perception of aggressive behavior is the true focus of the article because the altered perception drives an increase of aggressive behavior. The idea behind this is that after playing a violent game with large amounts of death the perception of what is violent changes. Greitemeyer used two experiments to study the idea that video game violence can drive aggression. The experiments were a shift from previous studies that linked violence to games and not to altering the perception of what is aggressive behavior. The experiments provided expected and unexpected results related to the hypothesis that video game violence and aggression were linked.

The first experiment using either one of the two violent games or of the two neutral games was conducted with a small group of ”82 adults.”1 The group was told they were doing a study about how much a video game was liked and a study about impressions. The studies they were told were not linked to each other. The end results of the experiment showed that the perception of the participant’s aggressive behavior was effected by playing violent games. The study also found that violent games affected moods negatively.

The second experiment was conducted with a smaller group then the first composed of “43 participants.”2 Again the group assessed how much they enjoyed the game as well as what their mood was and their perception of their own aggressive behavior. The second part of the test involved the group administering hot sauce as part of what they were told was another study. The participants in the second experiment were also asked how violent they perceived the video game they played. The experiment echoed the first experiment in relation to the participant’s perception of their own behavior in the context of aggression.

The two experiments showed that video games affected the perception of the participant’s aggressive behavior. And Greitemeyer concluded that this altering of perception would lead to an increase in aggressive behavior. The conclusion of the article is that video games alter the perception of what is aggressive in one’s own behavior not the behavior of others.

The Author readily admits that “the sample size in both studies was relatively small.”3 Greitemeyer also admits that the video games played were “fairly dated.”4 Both of these factors are flaws in the research and could lead to conclusions that might not be replicated again with a different group. Another flaw is noted that “it may well be that watching violence on television or movies also bias perceptions.”5 the article seems to try to blame aggression on video games and not on all the other potential causes. Video games may have an effect on aggression but the experiments are far from conclusive due to the various other factors influencing society ranging from movies to music to even the news.


  1. p. 53.
  2. p. 54.
  3. p. 56.
  4. p. 56.
  5. p. 56.