Violent Video Games and Reciprocity: The Attenuating Effects of Cooperative Game Play on Subsequent Aggression

John A. Velez, Tobias Greitemeyer, Jodi Whitaker, David R. Ewoldsen, Brad J. Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have shown that playing violent video games alone increases subsequent aggression. However, social game play is becoming more popular than solo game play, and research suggests cooperative game play is beneficial for players. The current studies explore the effects of cooperative game play on player’s subsequent aggressive behaviors toward video game partners (Experiment 1) and non-video game partners (Experiment 2), while providing a discussion of possible theories applicable to social video game play. Cooperative games resulted in less aggression between video game partners (Experiment 1) and between non-video game partners (Experiment 2) than did competitive or stand-alone games. Interestingly, cooperative game play and no-game play produced similar levels of aggression (Experiment 1), whereas competitive and solo game play produced similar levels of aggression (Experiment 2). These findings are consistent with the theory of bounded generalized reciprocity. Playing violent games cooperatively can offset the aggression-increasing effects of violent video games.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-467
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014



  • aggression
  • competitive game play
  • cooperative game play
  • theory of bounded generalized reciprocity
  • violent video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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