Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Video games, Media effects, Media psychology, Media violence, aggression, engagement, enjoyment, motivational activation

Major Advisor

Kirstie Farrar

Associate Advisor

Mark Hamilton

Associate Advisor

David Atkin

Field of Study

Communication Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Video game effects research has often been guided by the assumption that video games are more engaging than other forms of media (e.g., television, film); therefore creating the potential for stronger effects. This study drew from theoretical domains including the limited capacity model for motivated mediated message processing (LC4MP), excitation-transfer theory, and disposition theory to further study the process of engagement and its effect upon outcomes following violent video game play. This research advances a model with individual difference factors predicting engagement and effects outcomes and highlights engagement’s influence in the process. This dissertation outlines a two-part study designed to test these assumptions. Part 1 used a survey design to assess individual difference variables associated with engagement and motivational activation. Part 2 used a quasi-experimental design with a control group and a violent video game treatment group to measure engagement and aggressive outcomes, and to study the predictive power of the individual difference predictor variables from Part 1. Willingness to accept rules and motivational activation were predictive of video game engagement, and engagement led to increased enjoyment following violent game play. Increased enjoyment predicted increased state aggression following violent game play. Motivational activation influenced engagement, state aggression, and frustration (which negatively affected enjoyment). The study suggests that individual difference factors such as motivational activation and acceptance of rules predict engagement, and that engagement directly affects enjoyment and indirectly affects aggression.