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A SOCIAL COGNITIVE APPROACH TO CORRELATES OF PLAYING DIFFERENT

GENRES OF VIDEO GAMES, SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-EFFICACY AMONG

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

by

Corey J. Brunelle

ASHRAF ESMAIL PhD, Faculty Mentor and Chair

JANICE CLARKSON, PhD, Committee Member

MEE-GAIK LIM, PhD, Committee Member

John Darland, PsyD, Interim Dean, School of Public Service Leadership

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Capella University

September 2014
UMI Number: 3667907

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© Corey Brunelle, 2014
Abstract

Research concerning the effects of video game playing and consequent mental states has

generated mixed results in the academic literature. The self-esteem and self-efficacy of video

game players are not well documented in the social science literature. The gap in the scholarly

literature concerning the effects that playing different types of video games may have on video

game players suggests that empirical research was needed to determine which types of video

games, if any, have effects on an individual’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. The purpose of this

research was to examine correlations between video game playing, self-esteem and self-efficacy

measures among university students. The research questions asked if there are statistically

significant correlations between playing different genres of video games and reported levels of

self-esteem and self-efficacy measures among university students. Albert Bandura’s Social

Cognitive Theory provided the theoretical framework for this study. According to Social

Cognitive Theory, video game playing should exert some influence on an individual’s level of

self-esteem and self-efficacy. This study utilized a quantitative correlational research design to

investigate relationships of self-reported levels of self esteem, self-efficacy and video game

experiences. Statistically significant correlations were found for both self-esteem and self-

efficacy measures suggesting that specific genres of video games may influence self-esteem and

self-efficacy to varying degrees. Future studies should focus on analyzing the parameters of both

positive and negative effects of video games on the individual. Specifically, further research is

needed to ascertain the degree to which specific genres of video games affect the self-esteem and

self-efficacy of a video game player and the consequences of those influences on both cognition

and behavior.
Dedications

I could not have completed this dissertation without the support, guidance, patience and

love of my parents, Leonard and Carolyn; you have been the foundation I’ve needed to achieve

any measure of success I have in life.

To my daughter, Megan; I’m so proud of the woman you’ve become. I love you to

infinity. You're awesome.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following individuals for their time, effort, patience and

seemingly never-ending support during this process.

Dr. Esmail: You’ve been a source of constant and supportive guidance without which I

simply would not have been successful. Thank you for your patience, your shared wisdom and

your efforts on my behalf.

Dr. Clarkson: Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom during this process.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments iv

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1

Introduction to the Problem 1

Background of the Study 3

Statement of the Problem 5

Purpose of the Study 6

Research Rationale 7

Research Questions 7

Significance of the Study 8

Definition of Terms 9

Assumptions 10

Limitations 11

Theoretical Framework 11

Organization of the Remainder of the Study 13

CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 15

Introduction 15

Positive Social Consequences 15

Negative Social Consequences 22

Gender Differences in Video Game Play 27

Self-Esteem 29

Self-Efficacy 31

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Locus of Control 36

Social Cognitive Theory 38

Conclusion 40

CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY 42

Introduction 42

Research Questions 43

Methodology 44

Research Design Strategy 45

Sampling 47

Instrumentation 47

Data Collection Procedures 51

Data Analysis Procedures 53

Limitations of Methodology 53

Expected Findings and Ethical Issues 55

CHAPTER 4. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS 56

Introduction 56

Research Questions 56

Summary of the Methodology 57

RSES Responses 58

General Self-Efficacy 58

Video Game Survey 59

Descriptive Statistics 59

Pearson Product Moment Correlations 59

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Coding 60

Description of the Sample 61

Data Screening and Clean Up 62

Analysis of the Data 62

Video Game Questionnaire 62

Summary of the Results 63

Non-Significant Correlations 65

Conclusion 66

CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 68

Introduction 68

Summary of the Results 70

Hypothesis 1 71

Hypothesis 2 72

Discussion of the Results 73

Limitations 76

Recommendations for Future Research 76

Conclusion 78

REFERENCES 79

APPENDIX A. VIDEO GAME QUESTIONNAIRE 90

APPENDIX B. STATEMENT OF ORIGINAL WORK 101

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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

Introduction to the Problem

Playing video games is the fastest growing form of human recreation (Ryan,

Rigby & Przybylski, 2006). Nearly two-thirds (65%) of American households play

computer or video games while 51% of American households own a dedicated video

game console (Entertainment Software Association [ESA], 2014). Akilli (2007) writes

that the United States video game industry generates more revenue per year than the

United States film and cinematography industry. Sales of video games and video game

consoles in the United States during 2007 generated nearly $18 billion constituting a 43%

profit increase from 2006 (NPD, 2008). By 2013, combined sales of gaming hardware,

accessories and content generated $21.5 billion in the video game industry (NPD, 2014).

The impressive growth of video games during the last 20 years reflects the increasing

ubiquity and diversity of video game players.

The average video game player is 31 years old while 32% of video game players

are over 50 years of age (ESA, 2014). Nearly three-quarters (71%) of all video game

players in the United States are 18 years old or older (ESA, 2014). Females age 18 and

over represent a significantly greater proportion (36%) of video game players than boys

under the age of 18, whom represent 17% of the video gaming population (ESA, 2014).

In fact, females over 25 years of age constitute the greatest cohort of PC game players

accounting for 46.2% of all players and 54.6% of all game play minutes in December of

2008 (Nielsen, 2009). While females comprise 48% of video game players, females

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between the ages of 25-54 constitute the largest group of personal computer video game

players, accounting for 29% of the total personal computer game players (ESA, 2014).

Males, on the other hand, between the ages of 25 and 54, constitute the second

largest group of personal computer game players ages with approximately 20 % of all

personal computer game players (Nielsen, 2009). Nearly 80% of females between the

fourth and twelfth grades report playing video games in their homes (Walsh et al., 2005).

Colwell, Grady & Rhaiti (1995) found that playing video games is as equally popular

with boys as it is girls. Among most frequent gamers, adult males average 18 years for

game playing, females for 13 years (ESA, 2014). These demographics contradict the

often portrayed video game player as an adolescent male. While it would seem that video

game playing is no longer the stereotypical endeavor of teenage boys, little research has

addressed either the different types of game playing in adulthood or the positive social

effects associated with playing video games. Although females represent a significant

demographic in the video gaming business, little research exists concerning the effects

that video game playing has on the self-esteem and self-efficacy measurements of either

male or female gamers.

According to point of sale information collected in 2008, action games were the

best selling genre of video game (20%), followed by family entertainment (19.3%),

sports games (15.3%), shooter (10.9%), racing (8.4%), role playing (5.4%), strategy

(6.2%), fighting (5.1%), adventure (5.3%), children’s entertainment (.9%), flight

simulator (0.5%), arcade (0.5%), and other games/compilations constituted 2.3% of all

games sold in the United States in 2007 (ESA, 2008). More than half (57%) of gamers

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believe there are more games available today that appeal to women than in the past (ESA,

2007).

While playing video games used to be an individual effort, nearly 60% of gamers

play games with other gamers in person; an increase from less than half just a few years

ago. This surge in video game playing suggests that video game playing is, increasingly,

a form of social networking that involves group cooperation toward common goals.

Sherry, Desouza, Greenberg, and Lachlan (2003) found that the social interaction video

game playing involves is a primary reason many individuals initially started playing

video games. Sherry et al. (2003) found that many individuals use video games as a

means to interact socially with friends and discover personality characteristics of other

video game players.

The negative effects of video game playing have been researched for years

(Gentile & Anderson, 2003; Sherry, 2001). With the video game industry’s tremendous

growth in recent years, politicians, advocacy groups, parents, teachers and other

concerned individuals have denounced the detrimental and harmful consequences of

playing video games. However, the positive aspects of playing video games have only

recently emerged in academic literature and little research exists to support a positive

psychological or sociological influence on video game players.

Background of the Study

The social science literature is replete with research citing the deleterious effects

that playing video games has on individuals. Prior studies have attempted to correlate

playing video games with increased levels of arousal (Baldaro, Tuozzi, Codispoti,

Montebarocci, Barbagli, Trombini, and Rossi (2004), increased levels of reported and

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observed aggressive behaviors (Bushman and Anderson, 2002; Flemming and Rickwood,

2001), decreased levels of pro-social behaviors (Gentile, Linder, and Walsh, 2003), and

decreased levels of academic performance (Anand, 2007). However, the positive

consequences of playing video games are a relatively new subject in the social science

literature. Baccus, Baldwin, and Packer (2004) found that implicit self esteem can be

increased using a computer game that repeatedly pairs self-relevant information with

smiling faces. Vorderer and Bryant (2006) note that individuals can regulate their own

affective states positively or negatively given the unique characteristics of video games.

Sherry et al. (2003) notes that most video game studies involve traditional media

effects issues, particularly the effects of playing violent video games and levels of

aggression. Traditional media forms such as radio, television and the internet require

only passive consumption. Video games differ from other forms of media such as

television and radio because video games require individuals to actively participate to

further the progression of the video game content. The primary characteristic that

communication researchers identify as differentiating video games from other traditional

media forms of entertainment is the presence and level interactivity required to progress

the media (Grodal, 2000; Vorderer and Bryant, 2006). Hartmann and Klimmt (2006)

note that video game players not only actively process the information in video games,

but also actively contribute to the progression of the video game itself. Klimmt,

Hartmann and Frey (2007) note that the majority of theoretical paradigms involving

video game enjoyment identify the interactive characteristic of game play. Game players

actively process information presented in interactive media, substantially contributing to

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the progress, narrative and direction that the interactive media provides (Klimmt &

Hartmann, 2006).

Statement of the Problem

Research concerning the mental states of video game players has warranted mixed

results. Vorderer, Bryant, Peiper, and Weber (2006) observe that the gap in the scholarly

literature concerning the effects that different games have upon the gamers suggests that

empirical research is needed to determine, specifically, which games are and are not more

stimulating to different individuals. Until recently, much of the empirical research

concerning the motivations to play video games has focused on the interactivity

component and video game player actions (Klimmt, 2003, 2005).

Klimmt & Hartmann (2006, p. 140) suggest that, in applying the idea of

computer-related self-efficacy as a “domain-specific efficacy expectation,” there may be

a presumption of specific self-efficacy effects so that individuals may experience

“computer-game related self-efficacy or even efficacy convictions limited to a particular

game product.” As such, the decision to not only play video games, but particular genres

of video games, may influence an individual’s decision to engage in video game play.

Consequently, the decision to play a particular video game may be influenced by, and

reinforced from, an individual’s self-efficacy beliefs. An individual’s self-efficacy

beliefs, then, may be a motivational factor to play games at all and an important

consideration in the selection of particular types of games played. However, this has not

been empirically demonstrated.

Gender differences in the selection of different types of video games may suggest

an efficacy reinforcement process that has not been tested empirically (Vorderer, Bryant,

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Peiper, and Weber, 2006). Klimmt & Hartmann (2006) note that an individual who

possesses rather high levels of computer-based self-efficacy may not, for varying reasons,

have similarly high levels of self-efficacy for playing different types of video games,

although this has not been demonstrated in the academic literature.

While self-esteem and self-efficacy have been widely measured and discussed in

the social science literature, there is little academic research regarding the self-esteem

and self-efficacy of video game players. Little research exists to support a correlation of

video game playing and positive social consequences. No known research has attempted

to investigate the relationship of playing different genres of video games and reported

levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy measures among online learners.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between video

game playing and self-esteem and self-efficacy measures among online university

learners. The inclusion of online university learners for the purpose of this research is

based on the observation that online university learners, regardless of gender, have a

certain level of technology-based skills in order to successfully complete the

requirements of online coursework (Klimmt & Hartmann, 2006). This allowed the

researcher to focus on the effects that video game playing experiences have on

individuals without having to account for the effects that lacking basic technological

skills may have on the research findings. With the data obtained from the administration

of the RSE and GSE, correlations between playing different genres of video games,

gender and levels of reported self-esteem and self-efficacy were researched. The results

from the data obtained from the administration of the RSES and GSE surveys was

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examined for statistically significant correlations between reported levels of self-esteem

and self-efficacy measures compared to reported levels of experience in playing different

genres of video games. The independent variable for this study is playing different

genres of video games. The dependent variables for this study are self-esteem and self-

efficacy measures. The sample selected for this research is online university students.

Given the differing ages of video game players, there was not an age limit placed

on the research participants. Although research suggests a correlation between game play

and negative social consequences, little research supports a correlation of video game

playing and heightened levels of reported self-esteem and self-efficacy. The increasing

negative publicity that the video game industry generates, in conjunction with the

changing demographics of video game players, suggests that more research is needed

concerning the possible positive social effects of playing video games. This proposed

study may bridge gaps in the current literature on the positive effects of game play on

video game players.

Research Rationale

The proposed research study will bridge a gap in the current literature concerning

psychometric self report measures, specifically self-esteem and self-efficacy, among

video game players playing different genres of video games. Significant findings of this

study may provide useful information for law makers, advocacy groups, parents, teachers

and game designers.

Research Questions

This research addresses the following related questions and hypotheses:

Research Question 1

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Are there statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and self-esteem?

Ho 1 Null:

Statistically significant correlations do not exist between playing specific genres

of video games and self-esteem.

Ho 1 Alternative:

Statistically significant correlations do exist between playing specific genres of

video games and self-esteem.

Research Question 2

Are there statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and self-efficacy?

Ho 2 Null:

Statistically significant correlations do not exist between playing specific genres

of video games and self-efficacy.

Ho 2 Alternative:

Statistically significant correlations do exist between playing specific genres of

video games and self-efficacy.

Significance of the Study

This study seeks to provide some insight into positive consequences of playing

video games. Griffiths (2003) notes that very little credible research has analyzed game

play consequences for adults. Klimmt and Harmann (2006) write that comparing or

balancing the skills that video game players acquire in combination with the increasing

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challenges of playing video games can help provide players with heightened levels of

self-efficacy.

For example, Dandeneau & Baldwin (2004) observe that after a failed attempt to

achieve a goal, individuals with low self-esteem may focus on negative outcomes, blame

themselves for the failure and make unwarranted interferences regarding their own

abilities. However, individuals with high self-esteem, after a failure, may invoke a

variety of defensive processes including an overestimation of their control over

circumstances, overestimation of their performances, and a proclivity to blame external

stimuli for the failure as well as focus attention to alternative domains of strength

(Dandeneau & Baldwin, 2004). These types of coping mechanisms suggest that

individual outcomes may differ based on the type and extent of game playing.

Definition of Terms

Affective Processes. Processes regulating emotional states and elicitation of

emotional reactions.

Cognitive Processes. Thinking processes involved in the acquisition,

organization and use of information.

Locus of control. The extent to which individuals believe they have control over

events that affect his or her life, situation or destiny.

Motivation. Level of motivation is reflected in choice of courses of action, and in

the intensity and persistence of effort.

Perceived Self-Efficacy. People's beliefs about their capabilities to produce

effects.

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Self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to belief in one’s capabilities to "organize and

execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations" (Bandura, 2002,

p. 2).

Self-esteem. An individual's overall sense of self-worth or personal value.

Self-Regulation. Exercise of influence over one's own motivation, thought

processes, emotional states and patterns of behavior.

Video game. Any electronically operated game involving the manipulation of

images produced by a computer on a visual display unit or monitor.

Assumptions

The researcher assumed that the research participants would respond honestly and

completely to the administered survey questionnaires. It was assumed that the chosen

online university would agree to assist in administering the survey to its student body.

Therefore, the participant population consisted of students attending one online university

who responded to the request to participate in the study and completed the online survey

through Zoomerang.com. It was assumed that participants in this study were the online

university learners contacted by the researcher and that these participants were

representative of other students attending the same university. Further, it was assumed

that the research participants would be able to correctly and accurately identify the

different genres of video games given a description of the genres of video games. The

researcher assumed that self-esteem and self-efficacy can be quantitatively measured.

Another assumption was that there would be enough participants to participate in the

proposed study to provide statistically significant data. Klimmt & Hartmann (2006)

observe that a motivational prerequisite to playing video games is a general computer-

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based self-efficacy. As such, the selection of online university learners for this study was

justified given the desire for online students to have computer-related skills that,

arguably, some traditional university students may not possess.

Limitations

This study has limited generalizability concerning the self-esteem and self-

efficacy of video game players. This research involved a sample population from a

limited participant population. Therefore, the external validity of the research findings

may be limited. This research studied a limited population of learners from one online

university willing to participate in this study. Consequently, the generalizability is

limited to learners at this online university, and not to other students in different colleges

and universities. Although this study may be conducive to traditional university students,

there may be a limitation concerning online student’s prior experiences with

computerized technologies, thereby limiting the generalizability of the research findings.

While selecting an online university may limit the generalizability of the results to all

university students, the limitation of selecting students from an online university was

minimized given the inclusion of students from several disciplines as well as both

undergraduate and graduate students. Further, participants from Zoomerang.com receive

reward points which may be used to motivate participants to have completed the survey.

Theoretical Framework

This study is based upon the theoretical framework of Albert Bandura’s Social

Cognitive Theory. Social Cognitive Theory provides a framework that can be applied to

understanding how exposure to different types of video game content may affect levels of

self-esteem and self-efficacy. From this theoretical perspective, video game content

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provides a foundation upon which video game players can either “win” or “lose,” thereby

influencing an individuals’ self-concept.

Albert Bandura suggests that in certain circumstances self-regulatory processes

become disengaged from conduct. "In the social learning analysis,” Bandura wrote,

“moral people perform culpable acts through processes that disengage evaluative self-

reactions for such conduct (Bandura, 1983, p. 31). Bandura suggests that social cognitive

theory helps explain psycho-social functioning via a triadic reciprocal causation loop.

According to Bandura’s triadic reciprocal causation theory, the nexus between the

individual and society are transactional; personal factors manifested in cognitive,

affective and biological events, interact with patterns of individual behavior, while

environmental events interact as determinants influencing the individual (Bandura, 2001).

The situational and technological aspects associated with online learning may

provide both potential and current video game players with the confidence to experiment

with different modalities in video games. Analyzing the hypothesized correlations

between video game playing and reported levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy

measures among students at one online university contributes to the body of knowledge

relating to the effects of video game play on individual self-concepts.

The research design selected for this study is a one-group only cross-sectional

survey research design (Chambliss & Schutt, 2006; Cook & Campbell, 1979). This

quantitative research studied the relationship of playing different genres of video games,

gender, self-esteem, and self-efficacy among online university learners. Respondents

were asked to complete an online survey published through the Zoomerang.com website.

The researcher utilized SPSS to analyze the collected data.

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The introduction to the series of questionnaires detailed the significance and need

of the study as well as the need for respondents’ truthful answers. The questionnaire

packet contains an Informed Consent Form that detailed the provisions for

confidentiality, opt-out clauses, contact information for the online university’s Internal

Review Board, and requests for a summary of the findings of the study.

The surveys included in the online survey used to measure levels of reported self-

esteem and self-efficacy include The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES, Rosenberg,

1965) and The General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), respectively. A

demographic questionnaire was also included to ascertain both past and current video

game playing. Upon completion of the administered surveys, the data was analyzed

using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS Inc., 2003). A significance level

of .05 was used for all statistical computations.

Organization of the Remainder of the Study

The remainder of this study consists of four chapters. Chapter 2 focuses on the

relevant and scholarly literature concerning factors associated with video game playing

across genres and the self-efficacy, and self-esteem of video game players. The second

chapter will begin with an introduction and will delineate both the positive social

consequences and negative social consequences perceived by playing video games.

Chapter 2 will then identify gender differences in video game playing, and discuss the

self-esteem and self-efficacy of video game players as reported in the literature.

Chapter 3 will identify the research methodology utilized in this quantitative

study, the theoretical framework chosen to guide this research concerning the relationship

of playing different genres of video games and levels of reported self-esteem and self-

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efficacy among online university students, the researcher’s philosophy, and provides

justification for both the sample and population selected, as well as the instruments

utilized and the data collection and data analysis processes involved.

Chapter 4 provides a description of the sample population investigated, presents

the results of the survey data and discusses the hypotheses as they relate to the data

obtained. Chapter 4 will explain how the raw data were prepared and reports the results

of the statistical analysis applied to test the hypotheses in response to the research

questions. An explanation about how the statistical data were interpreted and evaluated is

provided in the Details of the Analysis section.

Chapter 5 discusses the research findings of this study and provides an

interpretation of the data results. Chapter 5 also provides a summary of the results as

well as a discussion of the findings for this research. A discussion of the conclusions is

provided and limitations to the present study are identified while recommendations for

future research are suggested. A conclusion section completes chapter 5 and the

dissertation.

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CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

The information revolution is well underway with many current applications

thought impossible only a few years ago. Computerized technologies allow for greater

exploration, deeper understanding and more meaningful considerations of problems than

ever before. Beyond generating billions of dollars in revenues, the video game industry

may be in the unique position of engendering deep and meaningful learning through

video media (Gee, 2005), as well as leading the technological revolution with innovative,

new and enjoyable ways for individuals of all ages to play games. Playing video games

enables people to acquire new skill sets necessary in the global economy.

Greenfield, Brannon, and Lohr (1996) found that video games are often the first

interaction children have with computerized technologies. As such, video games allow

children to be introduced into the world of computers and, consequently, the information

contained on computerized networks. With video games, individuals are able to control

their represented selves, manipulate environments and learn to think within certain, well-

defined constructs. Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, and Gee (2005, p. 110) recognize that

games promote “exploration, personalized meaning-making, individual expression, and

playful experimentation with social boundaries.”

Positive Social Consequences

Video games incorporate complex problem-solving matrices that help foster logic,

helps to support informed decision making, and utilizes a scientific method to help

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players learn (Wilson, 2007). Video games have been correlated with positive social

benefits such as computer literacy acquisition (Gee, 2005, Greenfield et al., 1994;

Greenfield & Cocking, 1996; Griffiths, 1991b), cognitive and attentional skill

improvements (Green & Bavelier, 2003; Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 1994), positive

technological attitudes and perceptions (Canada & Brusca, 1991), and increased

marketability to technological fields (Cassell & Jenkins, 1998; Margolis & Fisher, 2002).

Shaffer (2006, p. 12) refers to the collection of "skills , knowledge, identities,

values, and epistemology that professionals us to think in innovative ways" as "epistemic

frames." These epistemic frames allow individuals to think about problems in new ways

in the attempt to solve unique problems. Video games, Shaffer (2006, p. 22) notes,

allow players to discover "end states that are personally and socially meaningful" and,

consequently, "both more engaging and better for learning about things that matter in the

real world."

Studying the lived experiences of video game players is essential for successful

media literacy programs in an effort to address both the proclaimed benefits and

detriments of game playing (Funk, Chan, Brouwer, & Curtiss, 2006). The educational

use of game play has been touted as a primary benefit in the social science literature

concerning the positive social effects of playing video games. Among the benefits

attributed to video game playing is a greater, deeper and more meaningful perspective in

the educational field. Among the skills that video game players acquire through game

play include problem-solving abilities, perseverance, pattern recognition, hypothesis

testing, estimating skills, inductive reasoning, resource management, logistics, mapping,

memory, quick thinking, and reasoned judgments (Sheff, 1994). With emerging video

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game console technologies, video game playing requires greater physical exertion, and,

may consequently, lower body fat levels. Playing video games may increase social

connections among networks.

Cassell & Jenkins (1998) note that children who do not have access to or interest

in video games may be at a disadvantage to those children who do have access to and

play video games. Scarlett, Naudeau, Ponte, and Salonius-Pasternak (2004) suggest that

there are many contributions of play to children’s social and psychological well-being;

socio-emotional, cognitive, and physical development, emotion regulation, peer and

familial relationships, attention, problem-solving, creativity, fine and gross motor skills,

and overall physical health.

Salonius-Pasternak and Gelfond (2005, p. 18) note that among the benefits of

electronic game play for children is “the opportunity to negotiate society’s rules and

roles, allowing children to experiment with aggression in a safe setting without real world

consequences, facilitating children’s development of self-regulation of arousal, and

serving as an effective tool in clinical settings.” Video games not only allow for new and

more powerful ways to learn in schools, but also create new social constructs and cultures

for the player (Schaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee, 2005). In short, video games allow

players to immerse themselves in roles and simulations that allow for creativity within

parameters.

Salonius-Pasternak and Gelfond (2005) write that computer and video games

provide unique opportunities for children to play with rules within an imaginary

environment. Games provide for situated understandings that allow the player to

experience identities, social practices, empathy, values and identities that combine to

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make a subject matter expert (Schaffer, Squire, Halverson , & Gee, 2005). Perhaps this

situated learning curve allows for players to experience, virtually, the lives of otherwise

unlivable characters. In this way, children can experience, with ever-increasing realism,

what it is like to drive a formula one car, drive a basketball to the hoop in the NBA,

search for treasures in distant lands, explore frontiers in space and oceans, and create

alternate realties within rule-structured environs.

Ryan, Rigby and Przybylski (2006) found that playing video games satisfies basic

psychological needs of fun and enjoyment. Having asked some 1,000 game players why

they enjoy playing video games, Ryan, Rigby and Przybylski (2006) found that there

exists an intrinsic satisfaction in playing. Of particular importance to the field of

education was a reporting by gamers that they felt best when the games that they were

playing provided positive experiences and challenges which were connected to real-world

experiences. Games have the ability to provide opportunities for achievement, for

freedom, and even to create and sustain a connection with other players (Ryan, Rigby &

Przybylski, 2006). The ability to play video games with other players throughout the

world via the internet allows for social bonds and networks of gamers to associate with

one another.

Game play has long been recognized as a highly successful therapeutic facilitator.

Videogames have been extensively utilized as a therapy tool, showing significant signs of

success in a wide range of childhood and adolescent disorders (Griffiths, 2003).

Videogames, Griffiths (2003) notes, have been responsible for helping children deal with

significant life stressors, including chemotherapy, psychotherapy, emotional and

behavioral disorders, as well as various medical problems.

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Games have the power to retain and promote health as well as to heal (Michael,

2005). Green and Bavelier (2003) found that violent games improve visual acuity; avid

video game players were more accurate than non-gamers during a battery of visual acuity

tests measuring both central and peripheral attention. Video games were found to

enhance “allocation of spatial attention over the visual field, even at untrained locations,”

in video game players (Green & Bavelier, 2003, p. 535). Similarly, Lager and Bremberg

(2005) found support for increased spatial abilities and decreased reaction time among

video game players.

A recent study (Rosser et al., 2007) found that surgeons who self-reported playing

more than 3 hours per week were 37 % less likely to commit errors in a rigorous

assessment for laparoscopy surgery techniques. Further, these more adept surgeons

finished the laparoscopy surgery exercises 27% faster than their non-video game playing

colleagues. This suggests that video game playing fosters and contributes to the

acquisition of desired and marketable skill sets. Used as educational tools, games not

only enable, but require, players to develop, test and confirm hypotheses, revise theories,

develop strategies and adhere to specified rules set by game designers. As such, game

play is an ideal way to prepare individuals for the emerging skills necessary in the

modern and future workforce and will be valued in the new global economy (The

Economist, 2005).

The potential of video games has not been lost on the scientific community. In

2005, the Federation of American Scientists, the Entertainment Software Association,

and the National Science Foundation convened a National Summit on Educational Games

[SEC]. The purpose of the SEC (2005) was to identify and investigate the potential of

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video games to educate students as well as to make specific recommendations to the field

of education concerning implementation of video game use in educational settings.

Traditional pedagogical philosophies and methodologies have long provided for

assessments in various forms. However, these assessments are often inappropriate,

untimely and allow educators to measure only what students are able to remember.

Video games, however, continuously monitor performance and progress, thereby

providing feedback that is clear, instantaneous and easily understandable (SEC, 2005).

Video games in educational settings differ from traditional pedagogy in profound

ways. Among the findings of the SEC (2005) were that video games have the ability to

teach higher ordered critical thinking skills including strategy, interpretation, problem-

solving abilities, adaptation, and theory development. Educational games may require a

reevaluation of how education is delivered, what is taught to students in school, and,

ultimately, the purpose of education itself. If educational institutions continue to “teach

to the test,” the future of our children and the vitality of our economy may suffer.

Nevertheless, many educational systems fail to embrace new and emerging technologies,

perhaps from fear, perhaps from misunderstanding, but certainly to the detriment of

students and educators alike. This loss is compounded by the fact that video games,

beyond their educational value and ability to imbue players with new constructs for

innovative thinking, are, actually, fun to play. Zillman (1988, 2000) suggests that

individuals are motivated to make choices about their entertainment endeavors that

enable them to decrease or eliminate negative mood states and to engender positive mood

states.

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Gee (2007) writes that good video games provide pleasure to people. Such

pleasures are linked to a sense of control, a sense of agency, and of meaningfulness;

players experience these pleasures while immersed in the virtual world that video games

provide. Salonius-Pasternak and Gelfond (2005, p. 9) argue that “not only is it

pleasurable for children to have a chance to break rules that are continually imposed on

them, but make-believe play—including breaking the rules of the ordinary world in this

make-believe setting—serves the important function of helping children to understand

more about reality and thus the laws that make it up.” It is difficult to comprehend this

pleasure without having spent time actually playing video games; it is not a spectator

sport and is not learned vicariously through others. Experienced gamers are often

individuals with unique and specially honed skills in which businesses are particularly

interested.

The interactive nature of games allow for immediate assessment of progress and

ability, constant reinforcement of both positive and negative actions and choices and

present an immersive world in which people of all ages seem to find interesting and

mesmerizing. Abt (2002) suggests that games are effective teaching tools as they have

the ability to relate relatively difficult concepts and fact sets for a variety of subjects.

Gee (2003) notes that a new form of literacy is learned when playing video games.

While this new literacy claim may seem a stretch to non-gamers, it is apparent to

individuals with experience in actually playing video games; information is gathered in

new ways, perhaps only during certain times, while the environment in the virtual world

is constantly changing according to both artificially intelligent designs and player-

directed inputs. The speed and capacity by which an individual is able to discern, absorb,

21
and utilize given information dictates in large measure how that individual will succeed

in a given task in the virtual worlds that video games create. This ability requires a great

deal of focus, attention, and concentration. This concentration has been referred to as

“flow;” it describes the players’ ability to attend to the myriad of stimuli presented in a

game by blocking out or ignoring external stimuli. This immersion into the constructed

virtual world would certainly be a change in educational settings. Students may not want

to miss the presentations in the virtual world, the lessons literally at hand, for the

distractions and bothersome behaviors of real people in proximity.

Good games have a fast moving flow in which players become neither

uninterested in repetitive patterns nor overwhelmed by the pace of the game (SEC, 2005).

The acquisition of skill sets from game play include complex problem solving strategies

in dynamic environments, expression of creativity within set parameters and the ability to

apply results from feedback so that mistakes are corrected immediately, or minimized so

as to achieve goal states (SEC, 2005). There is a certain catharsis involved in playing

video games as they seem to allow players certain outlets that would otherwise not be

available. While this cathartic quality may alleviate tensions and engender reflection in

some individuals, in other people, under some conditions and with particular kinds of

games, the game play may incite anti-social behaviors according to several researchers.

However, this simply has not been demonstrated in the literature. Despite a hypothesis of

a link between playing video games and real-world aggression, this correlation has not

been demonstrated in the academic literature.

Negative Social Consequences

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The majority of empirical research into the concomitant effects of video games

has focused primarily on the correlations of playing violent video games and aggressive

behaviors. The General Aggression Model (Bushman & Anderson, 2002) provides a

theoretical framework to study relationships between playing violent video games,

aggressive personality, and attendant aggressive behaviors. In an attempt to explain the

proposed correlation of violent media consumption and attendant violent aggression, the

General Aggression Model (GAM) suggests that short term effects include an increase in

arousal and aggressive states by priming aggressive cognitions In time, these primed

aggressive that result from playing violent video games tend to reinforce aggressive

cognitions, aggressive perceptual schemas, aggressive behavioral scripts, and,

consequently, aggressive personality structures (Peng, Liu, & Mou, 2008).

The long-term aggressive schema is then reinforced by increased consumption of

violent media, contributing to an even more aggressive personality, which, according the

GAM, then feeds upon even more violent and aggressive media to bolster the ever

increasing aggressive personality. Consequently, aggression modalities and aggressive

behaviors are cyclical and redundantly reinforced systems. Peng, Liu, and Mou (2008)

suggest that, while many quantitative research studies (Anderson & Bushman, 2001;

Anderson & Dill, 2000; Sherry, 2001) have found statistically positive correlations

between the consumption of violent media modalities and aggressive behaviors,

including playing violent video games, the claimed causal relationship is elusive.

Boyle and Hibberd (2005, p. 30) conducted a meta-analysis of the literature to

ascertain whether playing video games caused violence in the real world. Boyle and

Hibberd (2005) found that there are many “myths, misinterpretations, and

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misrepresentations” regarding both the number and quality of viable research studies

concerning violence in the media; that there is conflicting research findings of a direct

link between video games and violent behavior; that it is difficult to isolate a single

causative factor in any violent behavior; that there is evidence to support the claim of

positive effects for children from playing video games; and that many studies purporting

to demonstrate a correlation between playing video games and increased aggression focus

only on short term effects, rather than effects that linger.

Baldaro et al. (2004) found no increases in the participants’ hostility

measurements after evaluating the short-term effects of playing violent video games on

children and young adults. Finding several short term effects associated with violent

video game play, Baldaro et al. (2004) found that, while the levels of hostility did not

increase among players, both blood pressure and anxiety levels increased. Lager and

Bremberg (2005) found no correlation between playing video games and the presence of

aggressive feelings. Williams and Skoric (2005), after having participants watch

extremely violent video game content for extended durations, found that, when

controlling for gender and age, and in despite of prior research purporting a strong

correlation between violent video game play and real world aggressive cognitions, game

play was not predictive of aggressive thoughts.

Vastag (2004) suggests that if video game playing is responsible for aggression

outside of contrived laboratory conditions, given the growth of the video game industry

during the last 10 years, a corollary would be matching increases in violence in American

society. However, such is not the case; violence has decreased steadily every year since

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1995 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006) while video game sales have increased steadily

every year since 1995 (ESA, 2006).

While North American politicians regularly suggest that video games cause

violence in the real world, it is interesting to note that many of the violent games sold in

the United States are also sold in other countries. However, the prevalence of violence in

other countries in which violent video games are played is significantly less than in the

United States. In rebuttal of the video game-social violence correlation, Gee (2007)

writes that Japan is known to play more video games than North Americans play, yet

Japan experiences significantly less social violence than in the United States of America.

Jones (2003) writes that crime in the real world has not been influenced by video

games. Savage (2004) found no connection between violence in the media and violent

crime given the lack of a convincing academic study to suggest that a correlation exists

between viewing violence and committing acts of violence. Buerger (2006) believes that

research that attempts to draw some correlation between violence and video games

remains unverified. While current crime statistics suggest that violent crime

commissions have been reduced by nearly 50% for children aged 12-18, video game

playing has continued to proliferate to the point that it is now considered a mainstream

cultural pastime (Buerger, 2006).

Freedman (2001) writes that no other social science subject other than the video

game violence causes aggression supposition suffers from such a paucity of research in

which researchers have been willing to reach such definitive and condemning

conclusions. Although the negative effects of video games have been written and

reviewed extensively, Gee (2007) suggests that the video game-violence correlation is

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absurd when analyzed in light of the contextual factors that define our society. Instead of

identifying the root problems of poverty, poor parental supervision, lacking abilities to

deal with the daily stressors of life, low frustration thresholds, poor anger management

skills and generally positive dispositions to violence and aggressive actions it seems

easier to find a scapegoat.

A claim commonly leveraged against video game playing involves a correlation

of extended game play and obesity. Walsh, Gentile, Walsh, and Bennett (2006, p. 2)

found that “children who spend more time playing video games are heavier, and are more

likely to be classified as overweight or obese.” However, the research claims causation

when correlation exists. Perhaps children who are sedentary and inactive already find

video games a useful way to occupy their time between meals. Of course, obesity is a

far-reaching, widespread social problem with many contributing factors; poor diet, lack

of exercise, poor parental supervision. Unfortunately, some research has leveled

responsibility squarely on video game playing, without considering possible extraneous

variables. While the concern for childhood obesity is well-founded, given the attendant

dangers that accompany obesity such as early onset diabetes, the relationship of obesity

to playing video games may not be a matter of causation but only of correlation. Now,

however, such claims are completely uprooted with the advent of new physically

interactive games and game consoles. The Nintendo Wii, for example, is a recent

console platform that not only allows for physically interactivity between the player and

the medium, but requires the video game player to physically interact with a game to

successfully complete and further the medium. The appealing nature of this type of

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interactivity in games allows for individuals who may have never thought of playing a

video game the opportunity to enhance skills, but to also maintain a desired fitness level.

Gender Differences in Video Game Play

Research concerning gender differences among video game players suggests that

males play more types of video games, play video games more often and for longer

durations and are more likely to identify with the gaming subculture than females

(Buchman & Funk, 1996; Colley & Comber, 2003; Gentile, Lynch, Linder, & Walsh,

2004). While narrative content analyses (Busch, 1995; Dietz, 1998; Jansz & Martis,

2003) have often been invoked to explain gender-based differences in video game

playing, there may be a socially generated expectation that females are less likely to be

successful at video games than males.

While goal states and objectives most certainly permeate the virtual video game

world, the journey to achieve objectives seems to divide, in some cases, along gender

lines. Consequently, males and females may engage in play for profoundly different

reasons. Lucas and Sherry (2004) write that girls are of particular concern to social

researchers given their relative lack of video game playing experience and desire to

participate in video game play. Using questionnaires, Lucas and Sherry (2004)

researched, within a uses and gratifications framework, aspects of game-playing

experiences of young adults. Focusing on gender differences, the researchers found that

female players were less motivated by social interaction factors in game-playing than

men; that the challenge of the game was an important part of the experience for both

males and females and that competition was more important for males. Ching, Kafai, and

Marshall (2000) found that girls demonstrate a greater emphasis on the exchange of

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information in video games, whereas boys tend to be more concerned with the

completion of game tasks and mastery of tasks.

Recognizing that video game playing is nearly as popular among females as it is

among males, Colwell, Grady, and Rhaiti (1995) found a positive correlation among

males between playing video games and a preference to friends need. However, males

also indicated that they were more likely to seek friends outside of school, thereby

negating a concern that video game usage tends to isolate individuals. Among females,

Colwell, Grady, and Rhaiti (1995) found that video games were negatively correlated

with self-reported levels of self-esteem and need gratification and the preference for

friends. Further, Funk and Buchman (1996) found that playing video games was

correlated with decreased levels of reported self-esteem among females.

Peng, Liu, and Mou (2008) suggest that, because few studies involving

experimental research incorporate dispositional variables into research methodologies,

the moderating effects of personality and gender during game play manifest mixed

results. As such, it is important to incorporate the moderating effects of personality

structures and gender in an effort to analyze the individualized and nuanced experiences

among video game players.

While Gibb, Bailey, Lambirth, and Wilson (1983) found no correlation between

male and female video game players and levels of self-esteem, social withdrawal, and

social isolation, they did find that females who have greater levels of video game playing

experiences have a higher achievement motivation than females with less video game

playing experiences.

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Blumberg and Sokol (2004) write that girls’ strategies emphasize cooperation

among and collaboration between game players, while boys tend to emphasize

competition in game play utilizing self-reliant methods rather than collaboration to

achieve desired goals. While the differing pursuits of boys and girls may require

different types of game scenarios, the results of game play in educational settings should

remain constant; to impart new skill sets, new abilities, and more meaningful

understandings of the world. Studying 2nd and 5th grade students’ cognitive processes

during video game play, Blumberg and Sokol (2004) sought to determine whether

cognitive differences during game play were attributable to gender. Although gender-

based differences were not found, Blumberg and Sokol (2004) found that older children

and children with more game playing experience utilized internal cognitive strategies to

solve game based challenges, regardless of gender. This finding suggests that, as

children mature, they become more experienced in game based strategies, and will

increasingly rely on their own faculties and on their own resources without needing the

assistance of others.

Michael (2005) writes that games have the power to teach, train, and educate as

they can bring different kinds of people together for a common goal; they, in short, can

build and reveal character. Gee (2005) writes that video games, when played with

thought, reflection and the kind of engagement that is required in the real world, are

actually good for the soul. Among the benefits that video game playing provides to

players is a sense of control, of agency, and of meaningfulness (Gee, 2005).

Self-Esteem

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As a dimension of self-concept, self-esteem involves emotional reactions about

the self. The cognitive assessments that individuals make of their competence in specific

areas form their self-concept (Forney, Forney, and Crutsinger, 2005). During

adolescence, problems with self-concept are more serious and widespread (Rosenberg,

1985). One way individuals act to maintain their self-concept is through the “self-

verification” that comes from self-confirmatory feedback of others in situational

interactions (Swann, 1983). Self-concept mirrors the perceptions, beliefs, and concepts

regarding the self; others’ perception of attributes associated with the self; and behavior

toward the self and others (Scheff, Retzinger, & Ryan, 1989).

A good self-concept is associated with feelings of high self-esteem that are

important to psychological well-being (Rosenberg, 1985). High self-esteem relates to

pride in one’s self, whereas low self-esteem reflects feelings of low worth or shame

(Forney et al., 2005). Campbell, Rudich, and Sedikides (2002, p. 360) found self-esteem

to be positively correlated "with the factors of extraversion, conscientiousness, and

openness/intellectance." Self-esteem is formed through reflected appraisals, social

comparison, and self-attribution. A social comparison is made when an individual lacks

objective information about himself or herself and forms self-judgment based on

comparisons with others. Self-attribution explains personal motives by drawing

conclusions about the personal success or failure of one’s own actions (Rosenberg,

Schooler, and Schoenbach, 1989).

Self-esteem is considered to have two dimensions: global self-esteem and specific

self-esteem. Global self-esteem is a unique construct directly connected to an overall

judgment of one’s self-worth that reflects the value placed on the self as a person (Forney

30
et al., 2005). Specific self-esteem is an evaluation of one’s competency in a specific

domain (Harter, 1990). Harter (1990) found that specific self-esteem includes

multidimensional self-evaluative judgments that differ by developmental stage, such as

scholastic acceptance and peer social acceptance by middle childhood, close friendship

and job competence by adolescence, and intellectual ability and relationships with parents

by college age.

Self-esteem is greatly affected by two expectations: what the individual expects of

himself or herself and what significant others (i.e., parents, peers) expect of that

individual. Through influence and meaningful opinions, significant others contribute to

the self-concept, and at the same time they play a role in the individual’s emotional

reaction to the self that forms self-esteem (Kaplan, 1975).

Self-Efficacy

First developed by Albert Bandura, the theory of self-efficacy (1977) has been

measured extensively in the social sciences to assess and investigate a myriad of clinical

problems including phobias, depression and addiction, and social skills deficiencies

(Pajares, 1997). Bandura (1977, 1982, 1997) defined self-efficacy as the levels of

confidence individuals have in their ability to execute courses of action or attain specific

performance outcomes. However, Bandura (2006) notes that efficacy is a differentiated

set of belief systems linked to discrete functional domains.

Perceived self-efficacy refers to the set of beliefs individuals have regarding their

capabilities to produce designated levels of performance which exert influence over

events affecting their lives (Bandura, 1994). Individual feelings, thoughts, motivations

and behaviors are all influenced by self-efficacy beliefs. People with increased levels of

31
perceived self-efficacy can positively affect their own world view while people with

decreased levels of perceived self-efficacy may have a diminished view of their abilities

and a negative world view.

Heightened levels of self-efficacy can bolster individual achievements and

accomplishments. Bandura (1994) notes that people with increased confidence in their

abilities to achieve a specific task tend to perceive difficult tasks as challenges rather than

threats. As such, specific challenging tasks may be perceived as opportunities for skill

acquisition rather than pitfalls that may confirm personal inadequacies.

Bandura (1994) writes that the most effective means of creating and maintaining a

strong sense of efficacy is through the mastery of experiences. However, mastery

experiences must challenge the individual for heightened levels of self-efficacy to

emerge. Simple successes can create an expectation that successes should be easily

attained and thwart self-efficacy when failures occur. When individuals are able to

successfully complete a challenging experience, self-confidence and assurance in that

individuals’ ability to successfully complete future challenging tasks increases, thereby

reinforcing the individuals’ desire to engage in challenges in the future.

Through the successful mastery of challenging experiences, people are better

equipped to perceive failures as the inevitable result of sustained effort. Bandura (1994)

writes that individuals with heightened levels of perceived self-efficacy tend to attribute

failures to a lack of sustained effort, deficient knowledge and ill-equipped present skill-

sets which are attainable with increased effort. People with greater levels of self-efficacy

perceive challenging, threatening, or intimidating events with greater levels of confidence

and self-assuredness in their ability to successfully overcome such obstacles. Bandura

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(1995, p. 11) notes that “such an efficacious outlook produces personal accomplishments,

reduces stress and lowers vulnerability to depression.” Further, beliefs about self-

efficacy have not escaped the field of education; research suggests that self-efficacy is

positively correlated with increased academic achievements and learning outcomes

(Pajares, 1996; Schunk, 1994).

Bandura (1989, p. 1179) writes that “socio-cognitive benefits of a sense of

personal efficacy do not arise simply from the incantation of capability.” Self-efficacy is

not developed or supported through the mere belief that one is able to perform a given

task; heightened levels of self-esteem emerge from successful task completion.

However, well-established efficacy beliefs are more likely to remain strong regardless of

whether challenging tasks are to be performed or not (Bandura, 1997). Proficient task

performances are, in some measure, founded upon higher-ordered self-regulatory skills,

including skills for task demand diagnoses, constructions and evaluations of viable

alternatives, goal setting, the implementation of self-incentives to prolong demanding,

task-intensive endeavors, as well as managing stressors and intrusive stimuli (Bandura,

2006).

Self-efficacy beliefs involve and invoke confidence in an individual’s

performance abilities, thereby positively influencing successful task completion. Kinzie,

Delcourt, and Powers (1994, p. 747) write that “Self-efficacy reflects an individual’s

confidence in his/her ability to perform the behavior required to produce specific

outcome and it’s thought to directly impact the choice to engage in a task, as well as the

effort that will be expended and the persistence that will be exhibited.” As a corollary,

people exhibiting relatively low levels of self-efficacy, are less likely to engage in a given

33
task due, in part, to decrease levels of confidence to perform such a task competently.

Bandura (1997) argues that people who are not confident in their own abilities to

successfully complete a given task are more likely to avoid such tasks because they are

perceived as personal threats to their own capabilities, perhaps over a broad range of

capabilities.

Individuals with relatively low self-efficacy, Bandura (1997) suggests, are more

likely to avoid endeavors that may be perceived as a threat to their ability to complete a

given task. Individuals who doubt their own capabilities, in contrast, tend to avoid

difficult tasks or endeavors, perhaps because failures can be perceived as personal threats

upon their self-efficacy. Individuals with low self-efficacy tend to have lowered

aspirations and decreased commitment goals (Bandura, 1997). Such individuals, faced

with difficult tasks, tend to emphasize their personal shortcomings and identify both the

perceived obstacles and potential undesirable outcomes in task completions rather than

on how to actually complete a given task successfully. This, in turn, can foster both a

decreased and early cessation of expended effort. Consequently, the predicted and

anticipated failure serves to reinforce personal self efficacy, thereby justifying task

avoidance. Bandura (1997, p. 11) writes that because such individuals “view insufficient

performance as deficient aptitude it does not require much failure for them to lose faith in

their capabilities. They fall easy victim to stress and depression.” Successes can serve to

bolster and reinforce belief in an individual’s personal efficacy. However, failures can

serve to reinforce decreased personal efficacy, particularly when personal efficacy has

not been established (Bandura, 1994).

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When people experience easily attained successes, Bandura (1994) notes, quick

results are anticipated while failures result in discouragement. Experience in overcoming

significant obstacles through perseverance can lead to a resilient sense of self efficacy. In

this way, failures and obstacles have a utility; individuals with a heightened sense of

sense of self-efficacy are more likely to engage in difficult tasks, despite significant

initial failures, in an endeavor to achieve success.

Another method of bolstering self-efficacy is through the vicarious experiences of

social models (Bandura, 1994). Witnessing attained successes from the sustained effort

of others can increase belief in one’s own ability to successfully complete similar

endeavors. Similarly, observing the failure of others, despite significant exertion and

effort, can decrease perceived self-efficacy. It is important to note that vicarious self-

efficacy depends on a perceived similarity to the social model, however (Bandura, 1994).

Consequently, non-identification with such a social model can inhibit or prevent

vicarious self-efficacy with the social model. Bandura (1986) suggests that competent

social models are able to not only convey knowledge to vicarious learners, but also teach

passive observers the strategies utilized to manage a myriad of environmental influences

and demands, thereby allowing heightened levels of perceived self-efficacy through the

acquisition of better, more effective skill sets.

Persuading an individual that they possess the requisite skills sets and abilities to

achieve success is yet another way to bolster an individual’s self-efficacy. When an

individual is convinced or persuaded that they, too, possess the requisite skills necessary

to successfully complete a given activity, such an individual is more likely, according to

Bandura (1986), to exert greater effort to achieve success, as well as sustain the exertion

35
of effort, in the endeavor to achieve desired successes. Encouragement, supportive

declarations and motivational pleas may, consequently, foster heightened levels of

perceived self-efficacy. However, such encouraging words and supportive assertions of

one’s personal abilities may soon flounder in the face of failed attempts and poor

performances. Bandura (1994) argues that this failed attempt is more desirable than

allowing an individual to disbelieve their own capabilities through a series of constricting

activities that not only inhibit motivation to exert effort, but also creates a behavioral

validity to the perceived, inevitable consequence of exerted effort.

Further, Bandura (1994) argues that somatic and emotional states have the ability

to influence evaluations about personal capabilities. Reactions to stress, pressure, and

tension can inhibit performances; people measure their ability to successfully complete a

task requiring some element of ability or stamina against fatigue or mental and emotional

states. Further, personal efficacy is influenced by mood states; positive moods tend to

enhance perceived self-efficacy while negative moods tend to decrease perceived self-

efficacy (Bandura, 1994). Consequently, increasing levels of existing perceived self-

efficacy may result from reducing levels of stress, thereby altering the perceived negative

emotional and physical mood states.

Locus of Control

Julian Rotter’s (1966) social learning theory examines generalized expectancies

by which individual’s view reinforcement. When an individual perceives a reinforcement

as some contingency upon behavior or personal characteristic, such individual has,

according to Rotter (1966), an internal locus of control. However, when an individual

believes that such reinforcements are not necessarily contingent upon behaviors or

36
actions, but instead partially attributable to external influences such luck, chance or

destiny, such individual has an external locus of control (Rotter, 1966).

Suggesting that individuals with relatively high levels of internal locus of control

more acutely perceive environmental cues that can influence future actions and

behaviors, Rotter (1966) argues that such individuals are more capable of influencing and

improving the externally-based environmental conditions that can affect behaviors.

Further, individuals with high levels of internal locus of control tend to value to a greater

degree the personal skill sets and individual achievements that maintain and value

autonomy over of conformity. Smith (1989) found that locus of control measures were

not indicative of improvements in academic performance of anxiety reductions in highly

anxious students who received coping skills via a training program, but did find that self-

efficacy scales predicted such improvements among those students.

Lam and Mizerski (2005) note that locus of control involves an individually-

centered gradated perception about potentially obtainable rewards resulting from, or

contingent upon, personal behaviors, attitudes and attributes. Individuals differ

significantly in the amount and type of control believed responsible for consequences and

effects in life (Lam & Mizerski, 2005; Boone, De Brabander, and van Witteloostuijn

,1996). Individuals with higher levels of internal locus of controls believe that influence

can be exercised over attendant behaviors and environmental conditions. As such,

personal influences can have a significant effect over life outcomes. Consequently,

individuals with relatively high levels of externally-based locus of control believe that

external influences affect, to a great degree, life outcomes. Such individuals believe that

factors such as fate, luck and destiny are mainly responsible for the effects and

37
consequences in life (Koo, 2009). Schultz and Schultz (2005) note that, while significant

differences have not been found concerning locus of control measures in the United

States among adults, there may be specific gender-based differences present for

individuals among categories of achievements.

Corno (1993) found that individuals with heightened levels of external locus of

controls rather than internal locus of controls believe it more difficult to ignore

extraneous noises, stimuli and other distractions while working and feel less in control of

their accessibility to others. As a corollary, individuals with increased levels of internal

locus of controls should cope more efficiently with extraneous noises, stimuli and

distractions during moments of concentrated effort.

Social Cognitive Theory

Albert Bandura’s (1986) Social Cognitive Theory is founded upon a triadic

reciprocal causation which provides a theoretical framework for understanding the

relationships between human behaviors, the environment, and social interactions among

people. Social Cognitive Theory is the primary theoretical framework for understanding

self-efficacy. Social Cognitive Theory provides that an individual’s behavior is

subjective to reciprocal influences from both cognitive (including motivational) and

environmental factors. This triune of reciprocal influences between behavior, cognition,

and environmental influences Bandura (1986) refers to as “triadic reciprocality.”

Social Cognitive Theory invokes a nexus between individual capacities,

behaviors, abilities, intrinsic motivations, and environmental influences. Liu and Larose

(2008) write that self-efficacy and outcome expectations are essential and necessary

components in Social Cognitive Theory. Albert Bandura suggests that in certain

38
circumstances self-regulatory processes become disengaged from conduct. “In the social

learning analysis,” Bandura (1983, p. 31) wrote, “moral people perform culpable acts

through processes that disengage evaluative self-reactions for such conduct.” This

disengagement can explain what takes place in impulsive acts of violence. As described

by Berkowitz (1983) and Zillmann (1983), high levels of emotional arousal take our

attention away from our internal mechanisms of control.

Initially termed "social learning theory," Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory

suggests that knowledge and competencies are gender specific, which foster gender-

based behaviors as well as standards of gender-based evaluations of the self that create

belief systems about self-efficacy (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Bandura’s Social

Cognitive Theory, as applied to learning, is predicated on a triadic reciprocal causation

(Bandura, 1986). Social Cognitive Theory suggests that individuals learn and behave in

different and varied forms given the unique interactions between the environment,

biological events, and such personal characteristics as cognitive, affective and biological

factors. Each of these characteristics not only determines an individual’s actions, but also

creates an individual belief system.

According to social learning theory (Bandura, 1983) and social cognition theory

(Bandura, 1986), individuals are able to exercise considerable cognitive control over their

behavior. In the absence of immediate environmental cues, cognitive capacity enables

individuals to transcend the present and think about the future as well as the past. This

conceptual thinking ability allows people to guide their own behavior by thinking about

possible outcomes. However, circumstances can weaken cognitive control and facilitate

39
impulsive actions. Under certain conditions, the individual’s actions are directed more by

external stimuli than by cognitive self-regulatory mechanisms (Bartol & Bartol, 2005).

Social control theory suggests that an individual is likely to become a criminal

when that individual’s connections to the conventional order or normative standards are

weak or largely nonexistent (Bartol & Bartol, 2005, p. 4). When this occurs, the

socialization that usually keeps an individual’s basic human nature in abeyance is

defective. This position perceives human nature as fundamentally “bad” or “antisocial,”

an innate tendency that must be controlled by society (Bartol & Bartol, 2005). Akers

(1973) suggests that criminal behavior is a learned response via operant conditioning and

imitation or modeling of others. Such modeling and imitation is the foundation for social

learning theory.

Teng (2008) notes that personal successes are associated with conscientiousness;

individuals with high conscientiousness tend to be more careful, organized, efficient,

systematic, and self-disciplined. These high conscientiousness individuals demonstrate a

strong motivation to learn through careful observation and critical analysis, which, in

turn, facilitates greater mastery of present skills and supports greater acquisition of new

skills. New knowledge is gained through the systematic and efficient utilization of

critical analysis and genuine interest in new information. Teng (2008) argues that such

high conscientiousness individuals tend to have a greater chance at realizing success in

playing video games than do individuals with low-level conscientiousness, which

reinforces the desire to want to achieve more successes and can bolster levels of self-

efficacy.

Conclusion

40
While research on the effects of video game play may seem contradictory, it is

important to realize that computer and video game playing should be undertaken in

moderation, as with most things. While video games can most certainly create problems,

have deleterious effects, and may even become addicting, so too could be said of food,

sex, and exercise; though each is a need for the body to thrive, there are limits to healthy

pursuits. While too much game play may be correlated with obesity and poor academic

achievement, so, too, could be said of poor diet. Video games are not the anathema some

researchers have proclaimed them to be. However, video games are also not the panacea

that many wish they were. Instead, it would appear that, given the relative paucity of

information regarding the long-term effects of video game playing in children and adults,

more research is needed to fill the gaps in the literature and to bridge the chasm between

popular belief, politically charged propaganda and reality. Perhaps instead of

condemnation and denouncement, our focus, as policy creators, as consumers, and as

lifelong learners, should be more on the attainment and maintenance of sound data, using

well-respected and established methods of scientific inquiry, to better position our

students, our children, and our labor force to excel in the changing business climate.

41
CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY

Introduction

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between video

game playing and self-esteem and self-efficacy measures among online university

learners. The inclusion of online university learners for the purpose of this research is

based on the observation that online university learners, regardless of gender, have a

certain level of technology-based skills in order to successfully complete the

requirements of online coursework (Klimmt & Hartmann, 2006). This allowed the

researcher to focus on the effects that video game playing experiences have on

individuals without having to account for the effects that lacking basic technological

skills may have on the research findings. With the data obtained from the administration

of the RSE and GSE, correlations between playing different genres of video games,

gender and levels of reported self-esteem and self-efficacy were analyzed. The results

from the data obtained from the administration of the RSES and GSE surveys was

examined for statistically significant correlations between reported levels of self-esteem

and self-efficacy measures compared to reported levels of experience in playing different

genres of video games. The independent variable for this study is playing different

genres of video games. The dependent variables for this study are self-esteem and self-

efficacy measures. The sample selected for this research included online university

students from an online university.

42
This quantitative research utilized a one-group survey design (Cook & Campbell,

1979; Davis, 2001). Creswell (2003, p. 153) writes that "a survey design provides a

quantitative or numeric description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by

studying a sample of that population." It was expected that the data collected would

demonstrate a positive and statistically significant correlation between reported levels of

self-esteem, reported levels of self-efficacy as measured by the RSES, the GSE and

playing different genres of video game among online university learners.

Research Questions

This research addressed the following related questions and hypotheses:

Research Question 1

Are there statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and levels of reported self-esteem as measured by the RSES among online

university learners?

Ho 1 Null:

Statistically significant correlations do not exist between playing specific genres

of video games and reported self-esteem as measured by the RSES among online

university learners.

Ho 1 Alternative:

Statistically significant correlations do exist between playing specific genres of

video games and reported self-esteem as measured by the RSES among online university

learners.

Research Question 2

43
Are there statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and levels of reported self-efficacy as measured by the GSE among online

university learners?

Ho 2 Null:

Statistically significant correlations do not exist between playing specific genres

of video games and reported self-efficacy as measured by the GSE among online

university learners.

Ho 2 Alternative:

Statistically significant correlations do exist between playing specific genres of

video games and reported self-efficacy as measured by the GSE among online university

learners.

Methodology

The utilization of a quantitative survey research design was chosen to discern and

analyze correlations between playing different genres of video games and reported levels

of self-esteem and self-efficacy. It was expected that the research participants would find

the research survey instruments easy to read and understand. The research participants

were expected to be able to complete all three survey instruments within 15 minutes as

the surveys contained Likert scale responses. The research participants did not receive

nor were they exposed to any information that would prejudice or influence their

responses to the RSE and the GSE (Devoid, 2006). The research method protected the

identities of the research participants; no identifiable information was sought or collected.

The primary goals of this study were to determine if a statistically significant correlation

exists between playing different genres of video games and self-reported levels of self-

44
esteem utilizing the RSE and reported levels of self-efficacy utilizing the GSE.

Participation in the research study was voluntary and research participants may have

earned participation points through the Zoomerang.com site for participating in the study.

The study was conducted during the middle of the university term to avoid potential

pressures with final exams and other scholarly concerns.

According to the most recent published data, there are approximately 25,000

students attending the selected university. The survey instruments were administered

online to 1,000 online university students, given that a desired 50% response rate was

sought to achieve statistical significance. Using a publicly available sample size

calculator located at http://www.raosoft.com/samplesize.html, with a population of

25,000 students attending the online university, a desired response distribution of 50%, a

confidence interval of 5 and a confidence level of 95%, the target sample size is 379.

The desired 1,000 student count allowed for statistically significant data to be collected

given the effects of attrition throughout the data collection process. The model of the

sample size (n) and the margin of error (E) is such that:

x = Z(c/100)2r(100-r)
n = N x/((N-1)E2 + x)
E = Sqrt[(N – n)x/n(N-1)]

Access to the survey instruments through the Zoomerang.com site lasted for two

weeks to allow for the scheduling flexibility of students. Respondent identifiers were not

be collected or sought. Data was analyzed using the IBM’s SPSS statistical analysis

software.

Research Design Strategy

45
A correlational design was used to measure the significance of relationships

among video game playing preferences and reported levels of self-esteem and self-

efficacy as measured by the RSES and GSE, respectively. Data was collected using the

Video Game Survey, The RSES and The GSE. Each of the research questions for this

study has one independent variable and one dependent variable (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005).

Accordingly, a Pearson r product-moment co relational analysis was used to the measure

the degree and significance of relationships among video game playing, self-esteem, and

self-efficacy measures. Leedy and Ormond (2005) write that a Pearson r is widely used

to study the significance of relationships among variables when there is a single

dependent variable and a single independent variable

This study utilized a quantitative research design and used a one-group only

survey method to acquire data. The survey, including the RSES and the GRE was

administered via the internet as a web-based survey available on a commercial survey

website, Zoomerang.com. The solicitation for research participation was e-mailed to the

target population consisting of 1,000 randomly chosen students, including both graduate

and undergraduate students at one online university with a total enrollment of

approximately 25,000 students, along with an explanation of the research goals and a

request to participate in the study.

In addition, participants were surveyed concerning general demographic

information. The responses from the survey, void of any identifying information, were

immediately available to the researcher and were analyzed from the Zoomerang.com

data. Several solicitations to participate in the research were needed to gather a desired

response rate of 500 completed surveys from a targeted pool of 1,000 learners chosen

46
randomly. The solicitation e-mail sent to learners at the university was randomized and

anonymous as the survey was administered using a list provided by the online university

of each student’s email addresses in comma-separated value format.

Sampling

To obtain an adequate student population at the 95% confidence level, a large

target population consisting of 1,000 learners was needed (Babbie, 2004; Isaac &

Michael, 1995). Accounting for possible attrition during the data collection process, a

given population of 25,000 students attending the online university, a desired response

distribution of 50%, a confidence interval of 5.0 and a confidence level of 95%, the target

sample size is 379. Therefore, the 1,000 student goal provided the researcher with

statistically significant response rates for this research. It was assumed that

administrative personnel at the chosen online university would agree to assist the

researcher distribute the solicitation email to adult learners at the online university given

an appropriate and non-identifying format for the email list (CSV). It was assumed that

the cost for distributing the solicitation will be negligible or minimal. The solicitation

email sent to potential research participants provided a background of the study, the goals

of the study as well as a request to participate in the research.

Instrumentation

The chosen online university randomly sampled registered online learners

enrolled at the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs, using computerized

algorithms to identify which online learners were invited to participate in this study. The

random sample was generated from a list of online learners who were currently registered

at the online university and attending any course pursuing a degree either in an

47
undergraduate or graduate program in any of the four schools at the university. The list

was then provided to the researcher in comma-separated value format, thereby protecting

the identity of every individual on the provided list of university learners.

The independent variable for this study is playing different genres of video

games. The dependent variables for this study were measured utilizing The Rosenberg

Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), and The General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), specifically, the

reported levels of self-esteem, and reported levels of self-efficacy, respectively. The

RSES and GSE have documented and confirmed reliability and validity. The RSES and

GSE all contain Likert-item measures and were utilized for this quantitative research

design. Likert’s method of summated ratings is a well-accepted and widely used

psychometric scale used in questionnaires to determine respondent’s agreement with

given statements. Anderson, Sweeney, Utts, Williams and Simon (2001) note that Likert

scales are highly reliable given the ability to order participant responses to specific

perceptions.

The RSES is the most widely used instrument in the social sciences to measure

levels of self-esteem (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991). The use of the RSES is prevalent in

the social sciences due, in part, to its low cost and short time to administer and complete

(approximately 15 minutes). It is a 10-item instrument that requires respondents to rate

items on a 4-point Likert scale, with responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly

disagree, using ordinal data that measures global self-esteem.

The research participants were asked to identify the degree to which they agree or

disagree with each statement on the RSES. The RSES contains items that represent a

continuum of self-worth statements ranging from statements that are supported by

48
individuals with low self-esteem to statements that are supported by individuals with high

self-esteem. Responses are summed to generate scores from 10 to 40, with higher scores

indicating greater self-esteem.

Rosenberg (1989) found that the RSES produced a coefficient alpha of .77 and

test-retest reliabilities ranging from .73 to .85. However, Blascovich and Tomaka (1993)

found that the RSES has higher reliability given that test-retest correlations are typically

in the range of .82 to .88, with Cronbach’s alpha for various samples in the range of .77

to .88. Silbert and Tippett (1965) found a two week test-rest reliability measure of .85 for

the RSES. Shahani, Dipboye, and Phillips (1990) found a .80 reliability score for the

RSES. Kelly (1955) found a Pearson rs convergent validity of .67 with The Kelly

Repertory Test. Heath (1965) found a convergent validity with the Health Self-Image

Questionnaire of .83. Negatively stated items (e.g., “At times I think I am no good at

all.”) were reverse coded. Specifically, scores were assigned a value to each of the ten

items on the RSES as follows: items 1, 2, 4, 6, 7: Strongly Agree = 4, Agree = 3,

Disagree = 2, and Strongly Disagree = 1; for items 3, 5, 8, 9, 10: Strongly Agree = 1,

Agree = 2, Disagree = 3, and Strongly Disagree = 4. The scale ranges from 0-40, with 40

indicating the highest score possible.

Developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) to measure levels of reported self-

efficacy, the GSE is a ten-item Likert-scale designed to assess a general sense of

perceived self-efficacy to predict coping with daily stressors and to measure the ability to

adapt after experiencing different life stressors. The GSE was designed to measure self-

efficacy which Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) define as the belief that an individual’s

actions are responsible for successful outcomes. Schwarzer (1992) writes that the

49
construct of perceived self-efficacy reflects an optimistic self-belief in one’s self. Such

an optimistic self-belief system suggests that an individual can successfully complete a

difficult task or adapt to experienced stressors or adversity. Schwarzer (1992) suggests

that perceived self-efficacy fosters the setting of goals, the investment of effort and the

persistence in the face of adversity. The GSE is designed to gauge the perceived self-

efficacy construct as each item on the scale is related to successful coping mechanisms.

This one-dimensional scale has a Cronbach alpha ranging from .76 to .90 (Schwarzer,

1992). Schwarzer (1992) observes that the GSE has documented criterion-related

validity given the positive coefficients with positive emotions and dispositional

optimism. Also, negative coefficients were found with depression, anxiety, stress and

health-related factors. However, the GSE does not measure specific behavioral-related

changes (Schwarzer, 1992).

The 1-4 scaled score Likert-item GSE indicates stronger self-efficacy beliefs for

higher scores and decreased self-efficacy beliefs for lower scores. The GSE, having only

one global dimension (Leganger et al., 2000; Scholz et al., 2002), has demonstrated

consistently high reliability and validity from subsequent researchers (Leganger et al.,

2000; Schwarzer, Mueller, & Greenglass 1999). Rimm and Jerusalem (1999) and

Luszczynska et al. (2005) report Cronbach alpha ranges from 0.75 to 0.94 for the GSE.

Dougherty, Johnston , and Thompson (2007) found Cronbach’s alpha reliability

demonstrated good internal consistency (SE-ICD α = 0.93 and OE-ICD α = 0.81).

Correlations with other self-efficacy instruments (general self-efficacy and social self-

efficacy) were consistently high. The instruments were responsive to change across time

with effect sizes of 0.46 for SE-ICD, and 0.26 for OE-ICD leading Dougherty, Johnston,

50
and Thompson (2007) to conclude that the GSE was a reliable, valid, and responsive

instrument for measurement of self-efficacy expectations and outcome expectations.

Juárez and Contreras (2008) found that the GSE showed a high internal consistency

(Cronbach’s alpha value of .83). Convergent and discriminant validity of the GSE were

evaluated; positive correlations were obtained with efficacy, confidence, self-concept and

emotional stability while negative correlations were obtained with anxiety. Through

exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the unidimensional structure of the scale

was validated.

Data Collection Procedures

Yun and Trumbo (2000) note that online assessment tools have the ability to

provide several distinct advantages over other forms of assessment methods, including

lower cost compared to other data collection methods, a supportive, possibly more

intuitive environment for the actual development of a given instrument, the inclusion of

an electronic data collection process that may facilitate higher response rates from

research participants as well as support for the data collection process given the ability to

download the results of the administered surveys at any time from the online assessment

website’s servers, thereby eliminating manual data entry. Tse (1998) identified several

advantages of using e-mail surveys compared to traditional mail methods, including

decreased costs, elimination of time consuming and tedious postal mail processes, faster

transmission rate and respondents increased participation given the relative ease with

which online surveys can be administered.

Web-based surveys are now a well-accepted marketing tool and have become the

most utilized and successful form of internet-based research due to their relatively low

51
expense, increased speed and convenience to a global pool of participants (Grandcolas,

Rettie, & Marusenko, 2003). However, as Chrisnall (2001) suggests, it is vital that

respondents be motivated to complete online surveys, reassured about their anonymity

and confidentiality, and have access to guidance for precisely worded surveys. Comley

(2002) suggests that respondents are more likely to provide truthful and honest answers

to online surveys given the lack of social cues provided.

The email solicitations for research participation were sent to learners at the

university during midterm to avoid the potential pressures experienced by learners during

end of term assessments, deadlines and assignments. Using a bulk email list provided by

the online university, the researcher sent a letter to 1,000 learners attending the university

inviting each individual to participate in the study. A link to the online surveys located at

Zoomerang.com is provided so that interested university learners can quickly and easily

participate in the study. The surveys provided for learners to complete included the

RSES and the GSE instruments. Each question on the survey contains one and only one

answer choice.

The researcher adhered to the online school IRB process and included an

informed consent release with the solicitation email provided to prospective research

participants. Potential research participants had 30 days to complete the survey in full.

As a courtesy, as well as to improve research results and to reduce the potential attrition

of research participants, three reminders were sent out; each one week after the initial

invitation to participate in the research study.

Survey participants failing to correctly complete the online surveys at

Zoomerang.com were prompted to return to the survey section to complete the missing

52
portion. Upon successful completion of the online survey, the research participants were

prompted to click on a web page radio button to electronically submit the results of the

survey to the researcher. Once a survey was completed successfully, the participant

received a message indicating that they had completed the survey with a “thank you”

display message for participating in the study. Incomplete surveys were not included and

individuals failing to correctly complete the surveys were eliminated from inclusion in

the study. The demographic information requested included age, gender and length of

video game playing experience. The identity of research participants was not sought or

collected. The researcher did not have any contact information other than the comma

space value email list provided by the online university, thereby avoiding invasion of

privacy concerns.

Data Analysis Procedures

Data obtained from responses to the online surveys were imported into SPSS.

The researcher then coded the data obtained from the administration of the demographic

portion of the survey, distinguishing variables such as age, gender, and reported

experiences with video game playing. The researcher created a frequency table for each

question on the survey, and data was then analyzed using Pearson’s r bivariate

corelational analyses, which generated summated factors which were analyzed for

statistically significant correlations between gender, self-esteem, self-efficacy and video

game play.

Limitations of Methodology

Several limitations exist to this research methodology. One limitation is the

generalizability of the population sampled to the larger population of video game players.

53
While the sample population was drawn from a single university, this limitation was

minimized by surveying both undergraduate and graduate students from each of the four

schools at the online university. While the sample population were from only one

university, this research mitigated this limitation by incorporating online learners from all

four schools at the chosen online university: human services, education, business, and

undergraduate studies. This allowed for several disciplines, perspectives, and levels of

educational achievements among online learners to be represented in the study.

However, a limitation exists given the possibility that online learners were not

representative of other learners attending traditional, brick and mortar institutions of

higher education.

Another limitation of this research was the potential that the research participants

willing to complete the online surveys represented only a small pool of potential

respondents. This limitation was mitigated by identifying the importance and need for

research participation to students attending the online university. Another potential

limitation of this survey research was the concern for privacy among research

participants. This limitation was addressed by assuring complete anonymity of all

research participants as outlined in the solicitation to participate letter.

To achieve statistical significance, the surveys administered needed a relatively

large sample to draw from. This limitation should was minimized with both the

administration of internet-based surveys and the ease with which many students from the

selected online university were invited as research participants using email invitations.

Finally, research participants earned participation points from Zoomerang.com as an

incentive to complete the survey.

54
Expected Findings and Ethical Issues

Among the expected findings from analysis of the collected data include a

statistically significant, positive correlation between playing video games and reported

levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy measures among online learners. Perhaps

individuals who are already in a technologically intensive educational program are more

likely to engage in technological forms of entertainment. However, the findings from the

collection of data from this research study might prove this hypothesis false.

Ethical issues were expected to be minimal given that the research participants

gave their consent to participate in the research study. The questionnaires in the survey

do not contain items that may be considered influential or biased toward answering in any

certain way. The entire survey did not take longer than 15-20 minutes to complete and

the results were entered into the Zoomerang.com server immediately. The surveys do not

suggest, imply or impart judgment or condemnation for any questionnaire answer choice.

Complete anonymity was assured given the nature of the provided emails from the

selected online university and answering the survey provided no identifying information

to the researcher.

55
CHAPTER 4. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

Introduction

Chapter 1 provided both an introduction to the topic as well as the conceptual

foundation for the literature review in Chapter 2. Chapter 2 reviewed and synthesized the

supporting and conflicting research pertaining to video game research and provided the

framework for the issues and variables under investigation. Chapter 3 described the

issues and variables utilized in this investigation to answer the research questions.

Chapter 3 also provided the rationale for the proposed data collection procedures, the

selection of the instruments used in the survey, as well as the statistical analysis

procedures proposed for this investigation.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between playing

different genres of video games and self-reported levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy

among a sample population of university students. The purpose of Chapter 4 is to

provide a description of the sample population investigated, to present the results of the

survey data and discuss the hypotheses as they relate to the data obtained. Chapter 4 will

explain how the raw data were prepared and report the results of the statistical analysis

applied to test the hypotheses in response to the research questions. An explanation

about how the statistical data were interpreted and evaluated is provided in the Details of

the Analysis section.

Research Questions

This research addresses the following related questions and hypotheses:

56
Research Question 1

Are there statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and self-esteem?

Ho 1 Null:

Statistically significant correlations do not exist between playing specific genres

of video games and self-esteem.

Ho 1 Alternative:

Statistically significant correlations exist between playing specific genres of video

games and self-esteem.

Research Question 2

Are there statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and self-efficacy?

Ho 2 Null:

Statistically significant correlations do not exist between playing specific genres

of video games and self-efficacy.

Ho 2 Alternative:

Statistically significant correlations exist between playing specific genres of video

games and self-efficacy.

Summary of Methodology

Investigating the relationship between self-esteem and self-efficacy and video

game playing experiences and preferences involved the use of three quantitative surveys;

the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), and the

Video Game Questionnaire. Of the one-thousand solicitations to participate sent to

57
students from the selected university via individual .edu email addresses, one hundred

and twenty-five online surveys were completed using the Zoomerang survey website

between March, 2011 and April, 2011. Two reminder notices were sent two weeks apart

to students who had not completed the survey.

In order to operationalize the goals of this study, a 48-item survey was sent to

1,000 students at the selected university via .edu email correspondence. A total of 125

individuals completed the survey. Of these 125 completed surveys, 114 survey

respondents indicated that they had played a video game at least once in their lives. The

results of the survey, coding procedures and a detailed description of both how the results

were formulated and operationalized for statistical analysis using SPSS, as well as the

overall descriptive statistics, correlations and multiple regression analyses the collected

results had on the goal of the study, follows.

RSES responses

Self-esteem was measured using Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale. Participants

responded to 10 multiple choice items and rated their current thoughts and feelings

regarding the self on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree) such that

lower numbers indicate lower self-esteem and higher numbers indicate higher self-

esteem. Negatively stated items were reverse coded.

General Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy was measured using The General Self-Efficacy Scale. Participants

responded to 10 multiple choice items and rated their current thoughts and feelings

regarding the perceived self-efficacy on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly

agree) such that lower numbers indicate lower perceived self-efficacy and higher

58
numbers indicate higher perceived self-efficacy. Negatively stated items were reverse

coded.

Video Game Survey

Video game usage was measured using the Video Game Questionnaire (Appendix

A). Participants responded to 22 multiple choice items and rated their past and current

video game use, video game preferences and video game playing habits.

Descriptive Statistics

To better understand the main characteristics of the variables in this study, as well

as to identify patterns and specific trends from the collected and coded data, descriptive

statistics were used to analyze frequency distributions, measures of location, and

dispersion of the data in relation to the primary research questions. Cohen (1988) notes

that bivariate correlations are used to determine the presence and degree of

multicollinearity among dependent and independent variables. Multivariate analysis

allows the researcher to identify statistically significant correlations between and among

variables, given a threshold of confidence, typically at the p. > .05 level. In statistical

significance testing, the p-value is the probability of obtaining a test statistic at least as

extreme as the one that was actually observed, assuming that the null hypothesis is true.

One often “rejects the null hypothesis” when the p-value is less than the significance

level α (Greek alpha), which is often 0.05 or 0.01. When the null hypothesis is rejected,

the result is said to be statistically significant.

Pearson Product Moment Correlation’s

Gay and Airasian (2005) observe that bivariate correlations, commonly referred to

as Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients, are commonly used in the sciences

59
to quantify the strength of linear dependence between two variables. To achieve the

goals of this research and identify which personality variables are and are not correlated

with playing different types of video games, Pearson Product Moment Correlation were

first used to determine significant correlations among coded variables and was selected as

the most appropriate statistical tool for this study. Pearson Product Moment Correlation,

commonly referred to as Pearson-r correlations, is the most utilized correlational measure

to gauge relations among variables by allowing the researcher to determine the degree to

which two variables are linearly related. Pearson’s correlation indicates the degree of

linear relationships between two variables, ranging from +1 to -1. A correlation of +1

means that there is a perfect positive linear relationship between variables, whereas a

correlation of -1 means there is a perfect negative linear relationship between two

variables.

Coding

For this study, Pearson-r correlation’s were used to analyze the survey data as

well as create a set of results from the raw survey data obtained. The raw data collected

from the administered surveys consisted of numerical data from lickert-style response

sets. This raw data, in turn, was then imported into SPSS. To convert the raw data into

manageable and recognizable data in SPSS, the numerical data were dummy-coded and

labeled.

In order to conduct Pearson-r correlation’s as a statistical test, the independent

and dependent variables, either nominal or ordinal, were dichotomized and dummy coded

with numerical values and labeled accordingly. This provided the ability to discern a set

of easily identifiable and quantifiable variances of the dependent and independent

60
variables from the numerical raw data. Further, the variables required dichotomization

and dummy coding as this lessens the number of independent variables to be measured,

thereby minimizing the effects of a smaller sample population; the more independent

variables within a Pearson’s-r correlational analysis, the greater the degrees of separation

between variables exist that, in turn, require larger sample sizes for statistical

significance.

An example of the coding involves the age of study participants, which is

categorized from under 16 years of age, 16-20 years of age, 21-25 years of age, and so

on. For this age variable, the ranges in ages were encapsulated into exclusive,

dichotomous ordinal variables such as 1 = “under 16 years of age,” 2 = “16-20 years of

age,” 3 = “21-25 years of age.” By dichotomizing and dummy coding the variables into

nominal and ordinal variable sets, a reliable method of correlational data analysis could

be conducted with the sample size available.

Description of the Sample

A total of 1,000 email invitations to participate were sent to individual student

school-affiliated (.edu) email accounts; 125 students completed the online survey. The

respondent population consisted of 28.8% male (N = 36) and 71.2% female (N = 89).

The median age reported by participants was between 41 and 45 years old, with 61.6% (N

= 77) respondents between the ages of 31 and 50 years old. The ethnic composition of

the survey respondents, though inclusive of several different ethnic categories, was

primarily distributed between two ethnicities: 59.2% (N = 74) white, not of Hispanic

origin and 26.4% (N = 33) Black/African-American. In response to the question “What

is your highest completed level of education?” Also, 76.8% (N = 96) respondents

61
indicated either “some graduate study/currently enrolled in a graduate program” or

“master’s degree.”

Data Screening and Clean Up

After importing the data from Microsoft Excel into SPSS, frequencies and

distributions for dependent and independent variables were screened for data errors. Data

errors were not detected. The data screening process then involved investigating the

collected surveys for missing data. All survey respondents (N = 125) completed the

surveys without missing data. Hence, no survey respondent was eliminated due solely to

missing data. Outliers were then analyzed in the data prior to data analysis. The research

participant’s data were dummy coded and standardized, resulting in z scores, which were

then analyzed for significant outliers. Analysis of the z scores indicated no significant

outlier data from the survey respondents.

Analysis of the Data

Of the 125 survey respondents, 91.2% (N = 114) answered “yes” to the question

“have you ever played a video game?” For the purposes of this research, individuals who

indicated that they had never before played a video game 8.8% (N = 11), were not

included in the correlational analysis section about video game playing behaviors. Thus,

a total of 114 survey respondents were included in the correlational analysis pertaining to

self esteem, self efficacy and video game playing experiences/habits.

Video Game Questionnaire

In response to the question “How many days in a week do you typically play

video games?” a total of 59.6% (N = 68) respondents indicated that they do not play a

video game at least once a week. However, 5.3% (N = 6) stated that they play once a

62
week, 4.4% (N = 5) stated twice per week, 5.3% (N = 6) stated two times per week, 6.1%

(N = 7) stated three times per week, 6.1% (N = 7) stated four times per week, 6.1% (N =

7) stated five times per week, 3.5% (N = 4) stated six times per week, while 9.6% (N =

11) stated that they play video games every day. Among those individuals who stated

that they play video games less than once per week, 29.8% (N = 34) indicate that they

play less than once per month, while 6.1% (N = 7) play once a month, 12.3% (N = 14)

play twice a month and 11.4% (N = 13) play video games three times a month.

When asked about the length of time spent playing a video game during a typical

session, the overwhelming majority of respondents (93%, N = 106) stated that they

played less than two hours per session. While 16.9% (N = 19) stated that a typical

playing session lasts less than 15 minutes, 36.8% (N = 42) play more than 15 minutes,

but less than one hour/session. However, the greatest percentage (39.5%, N = 45) state

that they typically play video games between 1 and 2 hours in duration/session. Further,

3.5% (N = 4) of survey respondents stated that they typically play between 2 to 4 hours,

while 2.6% (N = 3) play between 4 to 6 hours; .9% (N = 1) respondent stated that a

typical video game playing session lasts between 8 and 10 hours.

Summary of Results

Data for Research Questions 1 and 2 were analyzed using Pearson’s bivariate

correlations to identify relationships between the predictor variables (independent

variables) and the criterion variables (dependent variables). The associated hypotheses

with the research questions stated that there would be statistically significant correlations

between the predictor variables (genres of video games) and the criterion variables (levels

of self-esteem and self-efficacy). For the researcher to reject the null hypothesis, the

63
correlations must be statistically significant at the p < .05 level. This section includes a

brief summary of the results for each research question and a discussion of whether the

researcher was able to reject the null hypothesis associated with the attendant research

questions.

Using Pearson r corelational analyses, the correlations for Research Questions 1

revealed that playing Action RPG video games was negatively related (r = -.259, p < .01)

to the RSES measure “I am able to do things as well as most other people.” Playing

Casino video games was negatively related (r = -.189, p < .01) to the RSES measure “I

take a positive attitude toward myself.” However, playing educational video games was

found to be positively correlated (r = .185, p < .05) with the RSES statement “I certainly

feel useless at times.” Playing Strategy RPG video games was negatively related (r = -

.189, p < .05) to the RSES measure “I am able to do things as well as most other people.”

These results indicate that playing different genres of video games, specifically Action

RPG, Casino, Educational and Strategy RPG games are correlated with decreased levels

of reported self-esteem. Thus, the researcher rejected Null Hypotheses 1.

Using Pearson r corelational analyses; the correlations for Research Question 2

revealed that playing Party video games was negatively related (r = -.305, p < .01) to the

GSE measure “I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.”

Playing Party video games was positively correlated (r = .236, p < .05) to the GSE

measure “If I am in trouble, I can rarely think of a solution.” Playing RPG video games

was found to be positively correlated (r = .189, p < .05) with the GSE statement “Thanks

to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen situations.” Playing Strategy

video games was positively correlated (r = .190, p < .05) with the GSE statement “I am

64
confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events.” Also, strategy video game

playing was positively correlated (r = .212, p < .05) with the GSE statement “When I am

confronted with a problem, I can usually find several solutions.” However, playing

strategy video games was negatively correlated (r = -.198, p < .05) with the GSE

statement “If I am in trouble, I can rarely think of a solution.” These results indicate that

playing different genres of video games, specifically Party games, RPG games, and

Strategy games are correlated with both heightened and diminished levels of decreased

levels of reported self-efficacy. Thus, the researcher rejected Null Hypotheses 2.

Non-significant correlations

It should be noted that while this study identified several statistically significant

correlations, both positive and negative, between the RSES/GSE and reported play of

video games, there were other non-statistically significant correlations identified by the

collected data. The data did not reveal a statistically significant relationship between the

RSES/GSE and reported video game play between many of the variables. The data

revealed that gender, ethnicity, educational attainment and personal income were not

significant predictors of video game preferences or reported levels of self-esteem and

self-efficacy. While a few genres of video games were found to be significantly

correlated with self-esteem and self-efficacy, allowing the researcher to reject the null

hypothesis, most video game preferences were not significant predictors to reported

levels of self esteem and self efficacy as measured by the RSES and GSE.

Taken together, the data suggests that playing particular genres of video games,

specifically action RPG games, Casino games, Educational games, Strategy RPG games,

Party games, RPG games, and Strategy games may be associated with both positive and

65
negative levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy measures. Further research should

analyze the effects that personality types have on the correlation between video game

play and levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy; whether people who possess increased or

decreased levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy are drawn to particular types of video

games or, conversely, whether playing particular genres of video games promote or

inhibit self-esteem and self-efficacy.

The null association between the RSES/GSE and reported video game play

suggests that other factors may be responsible for reported self-esteem and self-efficacy

measures. Further research should identify specifically, and to what extent, video game

play preferences are associated with self esteem and self-efficacy.

Conclusion

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between playing

different genres of video games and self-reported levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy

among a sample population of university students.

The data showed statistically significant correlations, both positive and negative

between the predictor (independent) variables and the criterion (dependent) variables.

Specifically, analyzing the relationship between self-esteem and self-efficacy and video

game playing experiences and preferences involved the use of three quantitative surveys;

the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), and the

Video Game Questionnaire. The data indicated that playing different types of video

games was a statistically significant predictor of both positive and negative correlations

to self-reported self-esteem and self-efficacy measures.

66
Consequently, the researcher was able to reject the null hypotheses for both

Research Questions. Further research analyzing the relationship of playing different

genres of video games and resultant self-esteem and self-efficacy measures may provide

further insight into the correlations found.

67
CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the research findings of this study, to

provide an interpretation of the data results, and to suggest recommendations for future

research. This chapter begins with an overview of the previous chapters. This overview

is then followed by a summary of the results as well as a discussion of the findings for

this research. The next section is a discussion of the conclusions. Limitations to the

present study are identified and recommendations for future research are suggested. A

conclusion section completes the current chapter and the dissertation.

The purpose of this quantitative correlation research was to examine the

relationships between self-reported video game playing preferences, self-esteem and self-

efficacy measures among university learners. To examine these relationships, video

game playing preferences were categorized by video game genres and correlated with

self-reported levels of self-esteem as measured by the RSES and self-efficacy as

measured by the GSE.

Chapter 1 provided a review of video game research as it relates to both

organizational goals and individual impacts. It described the prevalence and growth of

the video game industry as well as a description of the demographics of video game

players. It explained the different impacts of video game playing including educational,

recreational, vocational and organizational applications. It also provided a description of

the therapeutic and educational benefits of video game play among differing segments of

68
society as well as the cathartic benefits of playing video games. Conversely, a discussion

of the negative social impacts of video game playing were discussed including increases

in aggressive tendencies (Peng, Liu, & Mou, 2008, Bushman & Anderson, 2002). It also

included a discussion of gender differences in video game play and the increases found

among female’s playing video games as well as the differing reasons males and females

engage in playing video games. An introduction to the impacts and causes of self-

esteem, self-efficacy and locus of control variables were provided as well as a discussion

regarding the influences Social Cognitive Theory has on these psychometric domains.

Chapter 2 included a review of the literature concerning video game play, self-

esteem and self-efficacy. The purpose of the literature review was to identify and

analyze the existing research concerning video game playing effects, self-esteem, self-

efficacy, and locus of control, gender differences in video game playing. It identified the

existing body of knowledge to support the hypotheses of the present study. A review of

the literature found that video game playing preferences have not been studied in

conjunction with psychometric measures such as self-esteem and self-efficacy and that

there was no correlational research to demonstrate a relationship between playing specific

types of video games and self-esteem or self-efficacy measures. Chapter 2 also identified

Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory as a theoretical framework to study video

game playing preferences on resulting psychometric measures.

Chapter 3 provided a description of, as well as the justification for, the

methodology used in the study. The research method chosen for this study involved a

quantitative correlational research design to analyze the data for the two primary research

questions in this study. The statistical analyses involved in this study included frequency

69
distributions, regression analysis, means and standard deviations, and Pearson r bivariate

correlations. Chapter 3 identified potential concerns and issues with validity of the

testing instruments, restated the research questions and hypotheses, and discussed data

collection methods and arrangements for data storage and security. Chapter 3 also

discussed the population studied as well as the formula’s utilized to determine how many

study participants were needed to achieve statistical significance for this research.

Chapter 4 presented the results of the study. It provided a description of the

sample population investigated and presented the results of the survey data as well as

discussed the hypotheses as they related to the data collected. It explained how the raw

data were prepared, including data importing methods and data coding, and how missing

data and statistical outliers were addressed during data collection and clean up

procedures. It also discussed the various descriptive and inferential statistical analyses

utilized to analyze the collected data and how these data were used to test the stated

hypotheses of the research questions.

Chapter 5 provides a discussion of the results of the study. It also discusses the

practical implications of the study and a discussion of the limitations of the study is

provided. Chapter 5 also provides recommendations for future research as well as final

conclusions regarding this study.

Summary of the Results

This study had two research questions. The research questions were formulated

to analyze the presence and extent of relationships between playing specific genres of

video games and levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy as measured by the RSES and the

GSE, respectively. Specifically, it was hypothesized that certain genres of video game

70
playing would be positively correlated with increased measures of reported levels of self-

esteem and self-efficacy. Limited support for these hypotheses were found, enabling the

researcher to reject the null-hypothesis associated with the two research questions. The

following discussion provides a detailed analysis of the research findings.

Data for Research Questions 1 and 2 were analyzed using Pearson’s bivariate

correlations to identify relationships between the predictor variables (independent

variables) and the criterion variables (dependent variables). The associated hypotheses

with the research questions stated that there would be statistically significant correlations

between the predictor variables (genres of video games) and the criterion variables (levels

of self-esteem and self-efficacy). For the researcher to reject the null hypothesis, the

correlations must be statistically significant at the p < .05 level. This section includes a

brief summary of the results for each research question and a discussion of whether the

researcher was able to reject the null hypothesis associated with the attendant research

questions.

Hypothesis 1

There are statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and levels of self-esteem. Both positive and negative correlations were

found between playing certain types of video games and reported levels of self-esteem.

Thus, the researcher was able to reject the null hypothesis for the first research question.

While no single predictor variable was found to be strongly correlated with

increased positive levels of self-esteem, four predictor variables were strongly correlated

with decreased levels of self-esteem. Action RPG video games were negatively

correlated (r = -.259, p < .01) with the RSES statement “I am able to do things as well as

71
most other people.” Casino video games were negatively correlated (r = -.189, p < .01)

with the self the RSES statement “I take a positive attitude toward myself.” Educational

video games were positively correlated (r = .185, p < .05) with the RSES statement “I

certainly feel useless at times.” Strategy RPG video games were negatively correlated (r

= -.189, p < .05) to the RSES statement “I am able to do things as well as most other

people.” Together, these data suggest that playing video games are not strong predictors

of increased levels of positive self-esteem levels. However, playing certain types of

video games may be strongly correlated with decreased levels of self-esteem when

measured by the RSES. It could be that playing certain kinds of video games are

correlated with increased levels of positive self-esteem; however, these data did not

support such a finding.

Hypothesis 2

There are statistically significant correlations between playing specific genres of

video games and levels of self-efficacy. Both positive and negative correlations were

found between playing certain types of video games and reported levels of self-efficacy.

Thus, the researcher was able to reject the null hypothesis for the second research

question.

Three predictor variables were strongly correlated with increased levels of

positive self-efficacy. RPG video games were positively correlated (r = .189, p < .05)

with the GSE statement “Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen

situations.” Strategy video games were positively correlated (r = .190, p < .05) with the

GSE statement “I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events” as

well as positively correlated (r = .212, p < .05) with the GSE statement “When I am

72
confronted with a problem, I can usually find several solutions.” Strategy video games

were negatively correlated (r = -.198, p < .05) with the GSE statement “If I am in trouble,

I can rarely think of a solution.”

Two predictor variables were strongly correlated with decreased levels of self-

efficacy. Party video games were negatively correlated (r = -.305, p < .01) with the GSE

statement “I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.” Party

video games were positively correlated (r = .236, p < .05) to the GSE measure “If I am in

trouble, I can rarely think of a solution.”

Discussion of the Results

Albert Bandura’s (1986) Social Cognitive Theory is founded upon a triadic

reciprocal causation which provides a theoretical framework for understanding the

relationships between human behaviors, the environment, and social interactions among

people. Social Cognitive Theory is the primary theoretical framework for understanding

self-efficacy. Social Cognitive Theory provides that an individual’s behavior is

subjective to reciprocal influences from both cognitive (including motivational) and

environmental factors. This triune of reciprocal influences between behavior, cognition,

and environmental influences Bandura (1986) refers to as “triadic reciprocality.”

Social Cognitive Theory invokes a nexus between individual capacities,

behaviors, abilities, intrinsic motivations, and environmental influences. Liu and Larose

(2008) write that self-efficacy and outcome expectations are essential and necessary

components in Social Cognitive Theory. Albert Bandura suggests that in certain

circumstances self-regulatory processes become disengaged from conduct. “In the social

learning analysis,” Bandura (1983, p. 31) wrote, “moral people perform culpable acts

73
through processes that disengage evaluative self-reactions for such conduct.” This

disengagement can explain what takes place in impulsive acts of violence. As described

by Berkowitz (1983) and Zillmann (1983), high levels of emotional arousal take our

attention away from our internal mechanisms of control.

Initially termed "social learning theory," Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory

suggests that knowledge and competencies are gender specific, which foster gender-

based behaviors as well as standards of gender-based evaluations of the self that create

belief systems about self-efficacy (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Bandura’s Social

Cognitive Theory, as applied to learning, is predicated on a triadic reciprocal causation

(Bandura, 1986). Social Cognitive Theory suggests that individuals learn and behave in

different and varied forms given the unique interactions between the environment,

biological events, and such personal characteristics as cognitive, affective and biological

factors. Each of these characteristics not only determines an individual’s actions, but also

creates an individual belief system.

According to social learning theory (Bandura, 1983) and social cognition theory

(Bandura, 1986), individuals are able to exercise considerable cognitive control over their

behavior. In the absence of immediate environmental cues, cognitive capacity enables

individuals to transcend the present and think about the future as well as the past. This

conceptual thinking ability allows people to guide their own behavior by thinking about

possible outcomes. However, circumstances can weaken cognitive control and facilitate

impulsive actions. Under certain conditions, the individual’s actions are directed more by

external stimuli than by cognitive self-regulatory mechanisms (Bartol & Bartol, 2005).

74
Social control theory suggests that an individual is likely to become a criminal

when that individual’s connections to the conventional order or normative standards are

weak or largely nonexistent (Bartol & Bartol, 2005, p. 4). When this occurs, the

socialization that usually keeps an individual’s basic human nature in abeyance is

defective. This position perceives human nature as fundamentally “bad” or “antisocial,”

an innate tendency that must be controlled by society (Bartol & Bartol, 2005). Akers

(1973) suggests that criminal behavior is a learned response via operant conditioning and

imitation or modeling of others. Such modeling and imitation is the foundation for social

learning theory.

Teng (2008) notes that personal successes are associated with conscientiousness;

individuals with high conscientiousness tend to be more careful, organized, efficient,

systematic, and self-disciplined. These high conscientiousness individuals demonstrate a

strong motivation to learn through careful observation and critical analysis, which, in

turn, facilitates greater mastery of present skills and supports greater acquisition of new

skills. New knowledge is gained through the systematic and efficient utilization of

critical analysis and genuine interest in new information. Teng (2008) argues that such

high conscientiousness individuals tend to have a greater chance at realizing success in

playing video games than do individuals with low-level conscientiousness, which

reinforces the desire to want to achieve more successes and can bolster levels of self-

efficacy.

The academic literature pertaining to the effects of video game playing on

antecedent psychological states has long suggested correlations between playing violent

video games and heightened arousal states and aggressive or violent proclivities. In

75
recent years, however, scholarly research has found that playing video games may have

some positive outcomes as well. Research continues to suggest that video games have

the potential to produce a wide range of desirable results: constructive pedagogical

effects related to the development of health-related knowledge and behaviors (Barlett,

Anderson, & Swing, 2009; Baranowski, Buday, Thompson, & Baranowski, 2008),

improved military training and tactics (Gopher, Weil, & Bareket, 1994) as well as

improved visio-spatial capabilities for surgeons (Rosser, et al., 2007) This suggests that

video game playing fosters and contributes to the acquisition of desired and marketable

skill sets. Used as educational tools, games not only enable, but require, players to

develop, test and confirm hypotheses, revise theories, develop strategies and adhere to

specified rules set by game designers. Together, these data suggest that playing video

games may be strong predictors of increased levels of positive self-efficacy levels.

However, playing certain types of video games may be strongly correlated with

decreased levels of self-efficacy when measured by the GSE.

Limitations

This study focused on one specific type of interactive media; video games. While

media influences and media effects have been well documented in the social science

literature, the study of video game effects is a rather recent research topic, despite the

presence of video games in society during the last 50 years. This study did not analyze or

address other types of video game effects, such as heightened arousal states, increased

aggression and violence, anti-social behaviors or depression.

Recommendations for Further Research

76
This research involved a convenience sample selected from a single University.

Future research should focus on identifying the strength of the relationships among a

broader, more diverse audience. This study was limited to analyzing how different types

of video games influenced an individual’s levels of self-reported self-esteem and self-

efficacy using the RSES and the GSE, respectively. Future studies should explore how

these and other instruments validate or refute the findings of the current research. Also,

rather than relying strictly on a method of self-reporting, future research may involve

studying in real time, the psychometric measures of self-esteem and self-efficacy during

actual video game play along a spectrum of video game genres.

Future studies should focus on analyzing the parameters of both positive and

negative effects of video games on the individual. Specifically, further research is

needed to ascertain the degree to which specific genres of video games affect the self-

esteem and self-efficacy of a video game player and the consequences of those influences

on both cognition and behavior. While prior research has studied the effects of violent

video game play on an individual, these studies have warranted mixed results, often with

conflicting data and conclusions. This study was limited to analyzing correlations

between playing specific genres of video games with the self-reported levels of self-

esteem and self-efficacy. However, a better understanding of the correlative effects

between video game play and consequent psychometric effects may be determined with

the inclusion of a greater number of sampled participants, the use of control/experimental

groups as well as inclusion of other than self-report surveys.

This study focused on the self-reported self-esteem and self-efficacy of people

who play specific genres of video games. Future research that involves how video game

77
playing affects psychosocial mechanisms such as self-esteem and self-efficacy may

provide a more holistic understanding of the dynamic relationships involved. Future

research involving how video game play and consequent mental states might also

consider identifying the length of time each video game player spends playing a specific

type of video game to be better understand the relationships between video game play

and self-esteem and self-efficacy. Also, future research on video game playing

preferences may benefit by incorporating demographical information in the research data.

While this research collected information pertaining to gender, age, ethnicity and

educational levels, these criteria were not incorporated into the research results. By

incorporating these demographics into the research results might provide some further

insight.

Conclusion

Research on the effects that video games have on individuals has warranted mixed

results in the social science literature. While a significant amount of research has focused

on the detrimental and harmful effects of video game playing, scholarly research into the

positive and beneficial effects of playing video games is relatively new in video game

research studies. A significant number of research studies have focused on the negative,

deleterious, and harmful effects of playing video games. While the current study found

some significant correlations between playing different genres of video games and self

report levels of self esteem and self efficacy, more research is needed to further explore

these correlations.

78
79
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APPENDIX A. VIDEO GAME QUESTIONAIRE

For the purposes of these questions, please consider all games played on any form

of computer with a screen (including computer/internet based games, handheld mobile

devices, such as a handheld gaming system or a phone and console-based games such as

any variant of Sony Playstation, Microsoft XBOX, and Nintendo systems) to be video

games and check the appropriate answer.

Part I

Demographic Information

1. What is your gender?

a. Male

b. Female

2. What is your age?


a. less than 16 years old

b. 16 to 20 years old

c. 21 to 25 years old

d. 26 to 30 years old

e. 31 to 35 years old

f. 36 to 40 years old

g. 41 to 45 years old

h. 46 to 50 years old

i. 51 to 55 years old

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j. 56 to 60 years old

k. 61 to 65 years old

l. 66 to 70 years old

m. Over 70

3. What is your primary ethnic background (race) :

a. White (not of Hispanic origin)

b. Black/African-American (not of Hispanic origin)

c. Chinese/Chinese-American

d. Japanese/Japanese-American

e. Filipino/Pilipino

f. Pakistani/East Indian

g. Other Asian

h. American Indian or Alaska Native

i. Mexican/Mexican-American/Chicano

j. Latin American/Latino

k. Other Spanish/Spanish-American

l. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (new code)

m. Unknown

n. Other:

4. What is your highest completed level of education?


a. did not/have not completed high school

b. high school diploma

c. some technical training/two year diploma

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d. in first two years of college/university

e. in last two years of college

f. finished a college/university degree

g. some graduate study/currently enrolled

h. masters degree

i. doctoral degree

j. professional degree

5. What is your occupation?


6. Have you ever played a video game? If NO, then you have finished the survey. Go to
the bottom of the page and click SUBMIT.

a. Yes

b. No

Part II:
Video Games Habits/Experiences
1. How many days in a week do you typically play video games?
a. less than once a week

b. one

c. two

d. three

e. four

f. five

g. six

h. seven

2. If you typically play less than once a week, please estimate the frequency of your
video game play per month.
a. less than once a month

b. once a month

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c. twice a month

d. three times a month

3. If you typically play less than once a month, please estimate the frequency of your
play per year.
a. less than once a year or never

b. once a year

c. twice a year

d. three times per year

e. four times per year

f. five times per year

g. six times per year

h. seven times per year

i. eight times per year

j. nine times per year

k. ten times per year

l. eleven times per year

4. How long is your typical playing session?


a. less than 15 minutes

b. greater than 15 minutes but less than an hour

c. one to two hours

d. two to four hours

e. four to six hours

f. six to eight hours

g. eight to 10 hours

h. over 10 hours

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5. Which of the following genres of video games do you play?

a. Action
b. Action RPG
c. Adventure
d. Board
e. Card
f. Casino
g. Educational
h. Fighting Action
i. Flight Simulation
j. Hunting
k. Music
l. Party
m. Pinball
n. Platformer
o. Puzzle
p. Racing
q. RPG
r. Shooter
s. Sports
t. Strategy
u. Strategy RPG
v. Trivia
w. Virtual Pet
x. Wrestling
y. Other:

6. Please list your five favorite video games, in order:


1) _____________________________

2) _____________________________

3) _____________________________

4) _____________________________

5) _____________________________

7. Which setting do you most typically play video games in?


a. arcade
b. home
c. work

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c. friends house
d. internet cafe/gaming store
e. other ______________
8. Who do you typically play video games with?
a. alone
b. alone but on the internet/WWW.
c. with family members
d. with friends
e. all of the above
9. How many different video games have you played?
a. one
b. two to five
c. six to ten
d. 10 to 20
e. 21 to 30
f. 31 to 40
g. 41 to 50
h. 51 to 60
i. 61 to 70
j. 71 to 80
k. 81 to 90
l. 91 to 100
m. Over 100

10. How old were you when you played your first video game?
a. 0-5 years old

b. 6 to 9 years old

c. 10 to 15 years old

d. 16 to 20 years old

e. 21 to 25 years old

f. 26 to 30 years old

g. 31 to 35 years old

h. 36 to 40 years old

i. 41 to 45 years old

j. 46 to 50 years old

k. 51 to 55 years old

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l. 56 to 60 years old

m. 61 to 65 years old

n. 66 to 70 years old

o. Over 70

11. How old were you when you hit your peak frequency of video game play?
a. 0-5 years old

b. 6 to 9 years old

c. 10 to 15 years old

d. 16 to 20 years old

e. 21 to 25 years old

f. 26 to 30 years old

g. 31 to 35 years old

h. 36 to 40 years old

i. 41 to 45 years old

j. 46 to 50 years old

k. 51 to 55 years old

l. 56 to 60 years old

m. 61 to 65 years old

n. 66 to 70 years old

o. Over 70

12. In an average week, how much did you play video games or computer games in
elementary school?

a. Under 1 hour

b. 1 hour

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c. 2 hours

d. 3 hours

e. 4 hours

f. 5 hours

g. 6 to 10 hours

h. over 10 hours

13. In an average week, how much did you play video games or computer games in
junior high school/middle school?

a. Under 1 hour

b. 1 hour

c. 2 hours

d. 3 hours

e. 4 hours

f. 5 hours

g. 6 to 10 hours

h. over 10 hours

14. In an average week, how much did you play video games or computer games in high
school?

a. Under 1 hour

b. 1 hour

c. 2 hours

d. 3 hours

e. 4 hours

f. 5 hours

98
g. 6 hours

h. 7 hours

i. 8 hours

j. 9 hours

k. 10 hours

l. 11 to 15 hours

m. More than 15 hours

15. In an average week, how many hours per week do you play video games or computer
games while in college?

a. Under 1 hour

b. 1 hour

c. 2 hours

d. 3 hours

e. 4 hours

f. 5 hours

g. 6 to 10 hours

h. over 10 hours

16. What is the longest continuous period that you played video games or computer
games?

a. Under 1 hour

b. 1 hour

c. 2 hours

d. 3 hours

e. 4 hours

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f. 5 hours

g. 6 hours

h. 7 hours

i. 8 hours

j. 9 hours

k. 10 hours

l. 11 to 15 hours

m. More than 15 hours

17. What is it you like best about video games?

a. The feeling that I'm in control of the situation

b. The immediate feedback about how I'm doing

c. It takes my mind off my problems

d. The ability to start over

e. The feeling of mastering the game

f. The certainty that I’ll eventually succeed

g. Other: ____________________________________

18. Do video games improve your ability to make good decisions?

Yes

No

19. Do video games improve your ability to make decisions quickly?

Yes

No

100
20. Do video games improve your ability to formulate winning strategies?

Yes

No

21. Are video games a good way to learn real world skills?

Yes

No

22. Any comments you would like to make about the topic or the survey:

101
APPENDIX B. STATEMENT OF ORIGINAL WORK AND SIGNATURE

I have read, understood, and abided by Capella University’s Academic Honesty Policy
(3.01.01) and Research Misconduct Policy (3.03.06), including the Policy Statements,
Rationale, and Definitions.
I attest that this dissertation or capstone project is my own work. Where I have used the
ideas or words of others, I have paraphrased, summarized, or used direct quotes following
the guidelines set forth in the APA Publication Manual.
Learner name
and date Corey Brunelle. 7/7/2014
Mentor name
and school Ashraf Esmail; Capella University; Public Service Leadership

102