Can violent video games cause aggression?

April 04, 2016

ERIE, Pa. -- The popularity of video games grows every day. The Global Games Industry Review expects the industry to be worth more than $100 million by 2017.

But as video games’ popularity increases, so do the questions that surround them. Many wonder about the side effects that come from playing video games, especially for persons with mental disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Christopher Engelhardt, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Missouri, will explore this topic when the Colloquium Series in Psychological Sciences and Human Behavior returns to Penn State Behrend.

Engelhardt’s talk, “Violent Video Games and Aggression: Effects Among Adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder,” begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 8, in room 180 of the college’s Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center, 5101 Jordan Road. Admission is free and open to the public.

Engelhardt’s research tests the idea that violent video games can have a pronounced effect on individuals with ASD. He will present a study of adults with and without ASD who were randomly assigned to play either a violent or nonviolent version of a customized first-person shooter video game. The participants’ behaviors, thoughts and feelings were then assessed for evidence of aggression.

Engelhardt earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Penn State Behrend in 2007 before earning his masters and doctoral degrees in psychology at the University of Missouri. His research focuses on how screen media – particularly video games – affects cognitive, affective and behavioral outcomes among typically developing individuals and individuals with ASD.

“Violent Video Games and Aggression: Effects Among Adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder” hosted by Penn State Behrend’s B.A. and B.S. in Psychology degree programs and by the student Psychology Coalition with support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Student Activity Fee. For additional information, contact Carol Wilson, associate professor of psychology, at 814-898-6082 or

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Last Updated April 06, 2016