The Allure of the Forbidden: Breaking Taboos, Frustration, and Attraction to Violent Video Games

Jodi L. Whitaker, André Melzer, Georges Steffgen, Brad J. Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although people typically avoid engaging in antisocial or taboo behaviors, such as cheating and stealing, they may succumb in order to maximize their personal benefit. Moreover, they may be frustrated when the chance to commit a taboo behavior is withdrawn. The present study tested whether the desire to commit a taboo behavior, and the frustration from being denied such an opportunity, increases attraction to violent video games. Playing violent games allegedly offers an outlet for aggression prompted by frustration. In two experiments, some participants had no chance to commit a taboo behavior (cheating in Experiment 1, stealing in Experiment 2), others had a chance to commit a taboo behavior, and others had a withdrawn chance to commit a taboo behavior. Those in the latter group were most attracted to violent video games. Withdrawing the chance for participants to commit a taboo behavior increased their frustration, which in turn increased their attraction to violent video games.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

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Keywords

  • cheating
  • frustration
  • stealing
  • taboos
  • violent video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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