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Keywords:

  • violent video games;
  • aggression;
  • individual differences;
  • trait anger;
  • violence

Abstract

Although numerous experiments have shown that exposure to violent video games (VVG) causes increases in aggression, relatively few studies have investigated the extent to which this effect differs as a function of theoretically relevant individual difference factors. This study investigated whether video game content differentially influences aggression as a function of individual differences in trait anger. Participants were randomly assigned to play a violent or nonviolent video game before completing a task in which they could behave aggressively. Results showed that participants high in trait anger were the most aggressive, but only if they first played a VVG. This relationship held while statistically controlling for dimensions other than violent content on which game conditions differed (e.g. frustration, arousal). Implications of these findings for models explaining the effects of video games on behavior are discussed. Aggr. Behav. 37:539–546, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.