Brief report: Does exposure to violent video games increase moral disengagement among adolescents?

J Adolesc. 2012 Oct;35(5):1403-6. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.06.001. Epub 2012 Jul 4.


Several studies have repeatedly shown that violent/action video games increase aggressive tendencies. The present study provides preliminary evidence that exposure to these games also affects the process of moral disengagement. High school students (N = 385) were recruited, and the impact of both recency and frequency of their exposure to the video game Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA; 2008) on moral disengagement was explored. Results showed that exposure to GTA predicted higher levels of moral disengagement. Recency of exposure had a primary impact on the considered mechanisms of moral disengagement. These findings provide insights into a relevant detrimental effect of exposure to video games, to our knowledge not explored yet. Future research is needed to provide evidence of the causal link in the observed relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / ethics*
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Video Games / ethics*
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Violence*
  • Young Adult