Online Gaming, Internet Addiction, and Aggression in Chinese Male Students: The Mediating Role of Low Self-Control

By Teng, Zhaojun; Li, Yujie et al. | International Journal of Psychological Studies, June 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Online Gaming, Internet Addiction, and Aggression in Chinese Male Students: The Mediating Role of Low Self-Control


Teng, Zhaojun, Li, Yujie, Liu, Yanling, International Journal of Psychological Studies


Abstract

Even though the General Aggression Model suggests that personality and situational variables can influence aggression, it is not clear if the model can be applied to Eastern cultures. The present study examined the mediating role of low self-control in the relationships between violent online gaming, Internet addiction, and aggression. We conducted a cross-sectional study using online self-report questionnaires to assess violent online game exposure, Internet addiction, low self-control, and aggression in 211 Chinese male students. We found that the majority of the 10 most popular games reported by the participants were violent. There were positive correlations between violent online game exposure, Internet addiction, low self-control, and aggression. Aggression was not only directly predicted by violent online game exposure and Internet addiction, but also mediated by low self-control. These findings support the development of educational programs and measures to cultivate self-control in college students and reduce aggression engendered by playing violent online games. Aggression and self-control, which is conducive to educational interventions, are related. The implications and limitations of this study are discussed.

Keywords: violent online game exposure, Internet addiction, low self-control, aggression

1. Introduction

With the growth of the Internet, more people have access to online games. Online gaming is a popular form of entertainment that influences the quality of life of players (Shen & Williams, 2011). A specific type of gaming that involves violent online game exposure (VOGE) is of considerable concern to researchers, regulators, and the public.

A particular concern is that playing online violent games can influence aggression in both the short and long term (Anderson & Bushman, 2002) by influencing cognitive and emotional beliefs (Anderson et al., 2010). According to the General Aggression Model, people exposed to highly violent video games are more likely to exhibit aggressive cognitions and beliefs (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Aggression is defined as any behavior directed toward another individual carried out with the proximate intent to cause harm (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Aggression is affected by personality variables (e.g., self-control) and situational variables (e.g., media exposure to violence). People with personality traits such as neuroticism, depression, and low self-control are believed to be more susceptible to developing aggressive behavior (Jones, Miller, & Lynam, 2009; Teng & Liu, 2013; Verona, Patrick, & Lang, 2002).

Another concern is that long periods of online game playing may lead to online game addiction (or Internet Gaming Disorder, according to the DSM- IV). Online game addiction has a negative correlation with self-control and a positive correlation with aggression (Kim, Namkoong, Ku, & Kim, 2008).

Self-control is a personality variable often negatively linked to online game addiction and VOGE, presumably because it results in playing online violent games for long periods, which, in turn, could have a further detrimental effect on self-control (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009; Kim et al., 2008). Low self-control (i.e., not monitoring behaviors and impulses) may result in aggressive actions, anger, and general aggressive tendencies (Mehroof & Griffiths, 2010); such aggressive and violent behaviors can be restrained by self-control (Chen, Liu, Lei, & Cui, 2012; Denson, Capper, Oaten, Friese, & Schofield, 2011; DeWall, Deckman, Gailliot, & Bushman, 2011). Increasing self-control could reduce aggression (Hamama & Ronen-Shenhav, 2012). Moreover, low self-control as a mediator between situational variables and aggression is supported by a wealth of research (DeWall et al., 2011; Li, Li, & Newman, 2013; Runions, 2013; Winstok, 2009). Low self-control could also play a mediating role in predicting aggression and violence (DeWall et al. …

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