July 12th, 2019

// Video Games Are Not Causing Women’s Body Issues or Youth Aggression

Many individuals are worried that sexualization in video games may increase female players' body dissatisfaction. 

Contrary to expectations, new research findings in the American Psychological Association's journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture did not find that sexualization increased body dissatisfaction or aggression toward other women. Media influences from video games appear to be minimal.

"Examining the Effects of Exposure to a Sexualized Female Video Game Protagonist on Women's Body Image" is based on research by Danielle Lindner, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Stetson University; Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Stetson University; Stetson University alumna Melissa Trible; and Ilana Pilato, Ph.D. candidate, at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

During the study, female players were randomly assigned to play either a more or less sexualized avatar in a "Tomb Raider" video game. Participants also reported on their self-objectification and body dissatisfaction as well as hostility and aggression toward a female character. Research results indicated that exposure to a sexualized avatar in a video game did not influence any outcomes for female participants. These results indicate that, at least for video games, exposure to sexualized females may not have a substantial impact on female players.

The journal article link includes additional information. Dr. Lindner is a body image expert and is available to discuss the research findings that published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Below you will find the journal and faculty profile links.

Psychology of Popular Media Culture journal article link:


Dr. Danielle Lindner's faculty profile:


Video game aggression research:

The issue of whether aggressive video games contribute to aggressive behavior in youth remains an issue of significant debate. One issue that has been raised is that some studies may inadvertently inflate effect sizes by use of questionable researcher practices and unstandardized assessments of predictors and outcomes, or lack of proper theory-driven controls. 

New research findings in Springer's Journal of Youth and Adolescence did not find aggressive video games causing future aggression in youth.

"Aggressive Video Games Are Not a Risk Factor for Future Aggression in Youth: A Longitudinal Study" is based on research conducted by Dr. Ferguson and C.K. John Wang, Ph.D., professor of sport and exercise psychology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. 

In the recently published journal article, more than 3,000 youth around the age of 11 in Singapore, with nearly 73 percent being male, were assessed for links between aggressive game play and seven aggression or prosocial outcomes two years later. 

Participants were asked to rate three video games they currently played and how often they played them both on weekdays. 


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