Chair of Social Psychology
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Psychological effects of playing violent video games

Many studies have shown that playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavioral tendencies. In our research we investigate whether being confronted with aggressive “opponents“ in computer games affects players’ behavior outside the game. In several laboratory experiments as well as in a longitudinal study, we found that such game experiences lead to more social distrust and less cooperation in subsequent situations. We found that confrontation with untrustworthy actors in video games increases social distrust, particularly among people high in victim sensitivity. In other studies we have focused on how players of violent video games morally justify aggressive actions in a virtual environment.

Selected Publications:

Rothmund, T., Klimmt, C., & Gollwitzer, M. (in press). Low temporal stability of excessive video game use in German adolescents. Journal of Media Psychology.

Bushman, B. J., Gollwitzer, M., & Cruz, C. (2015). There is broad consensus: Media researchers agree that violent media increase aggression in children, and pediatricians and parents concur. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 4, 200-214.

Rothmund, T., Gollwitzer, M., Bender, J. & Klimmt, C. (2015). Short- and long-term effects of virtual violence on cooperation and social trust. Media Psychology, 18, 106-133.

Gollwitzer, M., & Melzer, A. (2012). Macbeth and the joystick: Evidence for moral cleansing after playing a violent video game. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 1356-1360.

Rothmund, T., Gollwitzer, M., & Klimmt, C. (2011). Of virtual victims and victimized virtues: Differential effects of experienced aggression in video games on social cooperation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 107-119.

Rothmund, T., Gollwitzer, M., Baumert, A., & Schmitt, M. (2013). The psychological functions of justice in mass media. In R. Tamborini (Ed.), Media and the moral mind (pp. 170-197). New York: Routledge.

Rothmund, T., & Gollwitzer, M. (2012). Digitale Spiele und prosoziales Verhalten [Digital games and prosocial behavior]. In L. Reinecke & S. Trepte (Eds.), Unterhaltung in neuen Medien (pp. 326-343). Köln, Germany: Herbert von Halem.


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