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Teens, tempers and video games

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Teens, tempers and video games

Is there any link between video games, aggressive behaviour and moral decision-making in teens?

A Massey University Master’s student is aiming to find out, and he’s looking for 40 North Shore-based participants aged 13-14 to help with his research.

“I’m looking at the connection, if any, between violent video games, moral decision-making and aggression in teenagers aged 13 to 14,” says Sam Payne.

“Video games these days are big sellers – and almost trade on their shock value. I want to find out if violence enacted against people in a virtual environment has any additional effect on the player of the game.”

Mr Payne’s supervisor, School of Psychology lecturer Dr Peter Cannon, says the study could provide valuable insights into teenagers’ brains.

“Mr Payne's research is valuable because we know that lots of teenagers regularly play violent video games, but we don't fully understand the effects that these games have on their aggression and moral decision-making. Teenagers’ brains are still developing, and this is particularly the case for the frontal cortex, which is involved in making everyday moral decisions,” he says.

Participants need to have a good understanding of English and will need to put aside 40 minutes to come to the Albany campus with a parent or guardian at a time that suits them. They will play a video game while having their facial muscle activity recorded, and undergo a couple of tests involving moral decision-making. All the data and information provided will remain confidential and anonymous, and all participants will receive a free Event Cinema movie ticket for their time.

Mr Payne will also provide access to a summary of the project findings to all participants.

For more information on the study, or to book a time, please contact Sam Payne by email:

The project has been reviewed and approved by the Massey University Human Ethics Committee, Northern. Application 13/018.

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