Exposure to violent video games can cause a wide array of harmful consequences to adolescents. This study shows preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of a brief intervention to decrease aggression and increase self-control following exposure to a violent video game. Participants (157 high-school students; age range: 13–19) were randomly assigned to play a violent or nonviolent video game for 25 min. Next, they were exposed to an intervention (i.e., a brief article) designed to induce weak versus strong beliefs in self-control capabilities. We also included a neutral article unrelated to self-control. After reading the article, aggression and self-control-related variables (i.e., impulses inhibition, cognitive performance) were measured. Aggression was operationalized using the intensity and duration of aversive noise participants gave an accomplice on the Competitive Reaction Time Task, impulse inhibition was operationalized using the ability to resist eating candies, and cognitive performance was operationalized using the “spot the differences” task. Our results found that adolescents who played a violent video game were more aggressive and reported lower levels of impulse inhibition (i.e., ate more candies). However, inducing beliefs in self-control capabilities by reading a brief article stating that the human’s brain is a powerful tool for exercising self-control eliminated these harmful effects. The interaction was nonsignificant for cognitive performance. Overall, our study offers initial evidence that a brief intervention might help limit the harmful consequences of exposure to violent video games on adolescents.
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