In their 50th volume, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published an article named “Intense acts of violence during video game play make daily life aggression appear innocuous: A new mechanism why violent video games increase aggression” in which scientists examined the effects of violent video game play on perception of aggression regarding both the actions of one’s self as well as the actions of others, and how these altered perceptions of aggression can then lead to increased aggression in the subjects. In the first experiment the subjects played either a neutral or a violent video game and then were asked to answer questions regarding theoretical aggressive actions taken by the subject or another person. These questions gauged how seriously and how aggressive the subjects considered certain actions, such as shouting or shoving, to be when performed by others or themselves. The second experiment aimed to both reaffirm the findings of the first and further prove that decreased sensitivity to aggressive actions can directly result in an increased level of aggression in the subjects who played violent video games. The subjects again played either a violent or neutral video game, but after the video game, they were asked to decide how much chili sauce another participant would have to consume in a separate experiment. The subjects were told that there was a separate experiment and that the scientist could not choose how much chili to give the subjects in order to prevent bias. The subjects of the original experiment were informed that the subjects of the other, “fake” study did not like spice, and that they would likely not enjoy the chili.
Experiment one proved to be a relative success, but also provided more questions than answers when it was shown that violent video games affect self-perception significantly harder than perception of others. As predicted, subjects who played violent video games rated behaviors as less aggressive than the control group, furthermore playing the violent video game also led to more negative mood scores. Interestingly enough, playing the violent video game did not have a statistically significant impact on the perceived aggression of theoretical actions performed by people other than themselves. In other words, playing violent video games caused subjects to perceive less aggression in their own actions but not in the actions of others. In the second experiment, the hypothesis was again supported as those who had previously played the violent video game chose to administer higher quantities of chili to who they thought were study participants that did not like spice. Essentially it was shown that playing a violent video game led to decreased scrutiny regarding the aggressiveness of one’s own actions and as a result led to the subjects subconsciously choosing to cause more discomfort to another person than they might have if they hadn’t played a violent video game. All in all the experiments proved to be a success, the first experiment provided sound reason to believe that playing violent video games leads to a decrease in the self-perceived aggression of our own actions, and the second experiment provided proof that a decrease in self-perceived aggression could translate into an unconscious increase in the aggression of our own actions. It seems that violent video games may have an adverse effect after all, as this study stands as evidence that playing violent video games can influence a person to regard their own aggression with less gravity and in turn act with more aggression towards other, whether they are aware of it or not.