Video games can lead to aggression, but not because of content

A new study out of the University of Rochester and the Oxford Internet Institute adds a nail in the coffin of the idea that violent video games make people act aggressively.

The study showed that video games do in fact create feelings of aggression and can produce hostile behavior, but not because of the content. These feelings are related to the playerâ??s experience of failure and frustration in not being able to master the game itself.

The study is the first to look at a playerâ??s psychological experience with games. Researchers found that something as simple as trying to master a game with difficult controls can led to frustration and aggression. The findings were published in the March edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause," explains lead author Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, who referred to this behavior as "rage-quitting."

Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester says that a similar effect happens in sports, where a team loses a game after a bad call (something Syracuse basketball fans can relate to). "When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression," he explains. "We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone's competencies, they'll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not."

You can read the full findings of the experiment here.