Date of Award

Spring 2010

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Ellen S Cohn


The General Aggression Model indicates that long term exposure to violent video games increases aggression by altering players' aggressive personality (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). In this dissertation, cross-sectional and longitudinal tests of this mediated relation were conducted to determine if violent video game exposure had a direct effect on physical aggression as well as a direct effect via pathways through trait aggression (Buss & Perry, 1992) and normative status (Cohn & White, 1990). A category-based scale assessing violent video game exposure (Trinkner, Bucolo, Cohn, Rebellon, & Van Gundy, 2009) was used as the independent variable and a self-report measure of physical aggression (Wolpin, 1983) was used for the dependent variable. Cross-sectional analyses found that violent video game exposure directly predicted physical aggression. Further, both trait aggression and normative status were partial mediators of this relationship. Moderator analyses found that these associations were similar for both middle school and high school students.

Longitudinal tests of this mediated relation provided different results. Over an 18 month period, violent video game exposure directly predicted increased physical aggression. Neither trait aggression nor normative status mediated this association. Further, moderator analyses revealed that exposure to violent video games was a significant predictor of future physical aggression among middle school students, but this variable did not predict future physical aggression for high school students.

While these findings did not support all the predictions of the General Aggression Model (Anderson & Bushman, 2002), they indicate that violent video game exposure is associated with increased physical aggression in the real world. Further, exposure to violent video games appears only to have serious long term effects on younger players when compared to older players. These findings suggest that regulation aimed at reducing the negative effects of violent video games should be targeted toward younger players. Creating laws requiring personal identification to purchase violent video games and increased parental involvement in adolescents' video game exposure may reduce some of these negative effects.