Ballard_Mary_1996_Mortal_Kombat.pdf - Ballard, M. E., &...

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Ballard, M. E.,& Wiest, J. R. (1996). Mortal Kombat: The effect of violent videogame play on males' hostility andcardiovascular responding.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26(8): 717-730. (April 1996) Published byWiley-Blackwell (ISSN: 1559-1816). DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1996.tb02740.x The definitive version is available atwww3.interscience.wiley.comMortal Kombat (tm): The Effects of Violent VideogamePlay on Males’ Hostility and CardiovascularRespondingMary E. Ballard and J. Rose WiestABSTRACTWe examined cardiovascular (CV) reactivity and hostility among 30 male undergraduatesafter either nonviolent (billiards) or 1 of 2 levels of violent videogameplay. Violence varied among 2 versions of the game Mortal Kombat (MKl = lessviolent, MK2 = more violent)-all other factors (graphics, sound) were held equal.As expected, increased game violence elicited greater CV reactivity and higher scoreson hostility measures. Subjects who played MK1 or MK2 had higher heart ratereactivity than those who played billiards. Subjects who played MK2 showed greatersystolic blood pressure reactivity than those who played MKl or billiards. Finally,subjects who played MK2 scored higher on the hostility measures than those whoplayed MKl, who in turn scored higher than those who played billiards. These resultsindicate that the level of videogame violence, not just violence per se, should be ofconcern to consumers.
The success of the videogame Mortal Kombat (tm) fueled a controversyover violence in the$6billion a year U.S. videogame industry (Elmer-Dewitt,1993; Fitzgerald, 1994). Mortal Kombat was the best selling martial-arts gameof 1993 (Fitzgerald, 1994). The game includes characters that can kill or bekilled by electrocution, ripping out the heart, or decapitation with a quiveringspinal cord attached (Elmer-Dewitt, 1993; Sandler, 1993). Entering a “secretcode” intensifies the level of violence so that the graphic effects includegushing blood. When a violence warning was implemented for Mortal Kombat,there was a simultaneous increase in sales (Goldstein, 1994). Makers introducedmore violent versions of Mortal Kombat to the video market in 1994and 1995.Concerns about the impact of interactive exposure to violence haveincreased over the last decade. Many parents view videogames more positivelythan television (Sneed & Runco, 1992), perhaps because videogames requiremultimodal information processing and coordinated motor responses(Braun & Giroux, 1989) or because parents are unfamiliar with game content.Spiraling videogame violence, coupled with high-quality graphics andsound, rekindles the disquietude many adults feel about the games their childrenare playing. This study focuses on how differing levels of videogameviolence affect the hostility and cardiovascular (CV) reactions of undergraduatemales.VIDEO VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSIONThe association between television violence and aggressive behavior inchildren is well documented (e.g., Parke & Slaby, 1983). One might expectsimilar effects of videogames, 71% of which contain some violence or antisocialactivity (Braun & Giroux, 1989). Silvern and Williamson’s (1987) findings

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