The role of attention problems and impulsiveness in media violence effects on aggression



Previous research has established media violence as a causal risk factor for aggressive behavior. Several theoretical mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The present study assessed 422 undergraduate students to test the possibility that individual differences in attention problems and impulsiveness can help explain the link between violent media and aggression. Attention problems and impulsiveness proved to be a distinct construct from other processes believed to mediate aggression (aggressive beliefs, aggression related schemata, trait anger, and trait hostility). Attention problems and impulsiveness were uniquely related to both media exposure (total weekly hours and violent content) and aggression. Attention problems and impulsiveness were particularly related to impulsive (as opposed to premeditated) aggression. These results suggest that attention problems and impulsiveness may play an important role in violent media effects on aggression. Aggr. Behav. 40:197–203, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.