Week 9: discussion: online aggression


Social psychologists define aggression as behavior that is intended to harm another individual who does not wish to be harmed. Intent is an important element of aggression.

The impact of video game violence (VGV) on adolescent gamers raises concerns and controversy. The General Aggression Model (GAM) suggests that the interactive nature of VGV (e.g., Manhunt, God of War, Grand Theft Auto IV, Bioshock, Call to Duty) may create cognitive scripts of aggression that when rehearsed by game playing over time may influence players’ thoughts, feelings, and physical arousal, causing confusion between reality and fiction and ultimately overt, physical aggression (Mathur & VanderWeele, 2019). However, there are studies that refute these claims on grounds the existing studies are flawed in several ways: (a) studies used nonserious measures of aggression (e.g., aggressive cognitions or affect), (b) failure to use adequate statistical controls (e.g., confounding variables such as prior aggressive behavior), and (c) failure to account for cross-cultural differences (Prescott, Sargent, & Hull, 2018).

An attempt to reconcile conflicting findings was undertaken by Prescott et al. (2018). To clarify and quantify the relationship between violent video game play and overt physical aggression over time, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of all studies to date; 24 studies with over 17,000 participants over a period of 3 months to 4 years were identified. Samples included various ethnicities (e.g., Asian, Hispanic, White) with mean ages from 9 to 19 years old; studies included were limited to those using measures of overt, physical aggression and all confounding variables/covariates were accounted for. Based on the meta-analysis findings, Prescott et al. (2018) concluded that violent video game play is associated with increased levels of overt, physical aggression over time—after accounting for prior aggression levels (i.e., participants aggressive behavior before the study). This is the most comprehensive examination of the relationship between VGV and aggressive behavior to date.

This week, you will analyze aggression from the perspective of social psychology and look at ways to reduce aggression and bullying.

Mathur, M. D. & VanderWeele, T. J. (2019) Finding common ground in meta-analysis ‘wars’ on violent video games. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(4), 705-708.
Prescott, A. T., Sargent, J. D., & Hull, J. G. (2018). Metaanalysis of the relationship between violent video game play and physical aggression over time. PNAS, 115(40), 9882-9888.


Cyberbullying is an increasingly consequential social problem, one that has compelled the interest of social psychologists. Social learning theory is instructive here. We know that people repeat behaviors that lead to rewarding outcomes. By asking what exactly is rewarding the bullying behavior, social psychological research can identify the reasons why cyberbullying persists.

For this Discussion, you will examine what is rewarding adolescent-aged cyberbullying behavior from the perspective of a social psychologist, as well as consider strategies to assist teachers and parents.

To Prepare

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week and examine how social psychology theories and research explain the dynamics of cyberbullying among adolescents.

Post an explanation of what is rewarding the adolescent-aged cyberbullying behavior. Your explanation should be informed by social psychology theory and research.


Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the social psychology theory and research. In addition to the Learning Resources, search the Walden Library and/or Internet for peer-reviewed articles to support your post and responses. Use proper APA format and citations, including those in the Learning Resources.


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