The Behavioral Influence of Virtual Reality Video Games on Youth

Raised of $1,547 Goal
Ended on 3/26/17
Campaign Ended
  • $284
  • 19%
  • Finished
    on 3/26/17

About This Project

Virtual reality (VR) video games are poised to become commercially available. Some parents are concerned such games may impact children's behavioral health. Yet little is known about this empirically. This project will fund commercial VR technology for Stetson's psychotechnology lab to allow us to study youth and VR technology experimentally. Using randomized experiments we plan to examine issues including aggression, stress reduction and cooperation.

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What is the context of this research?

The effects, both positive and negative, of video game playing have been debated for decades (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Ferguson, 2015; Kanamori & Doi, 2016; Ybarra et al., 2008.) At present many controversies remain regarding video game effects and there has been an increasing push toward using preregistered experiments with standardized measures to attempt to clear up inconsistencies in prior research (see McCarthy et al., 2016, Przybylski, Weinstein & Murayama, 2017).

Virtual reality (VR) video games employing more immersive technology are just becoming commercially available. At present, very little research has examined VR video games that are commercially available. The proposed project would be one of the first to examine the behavioral effects of VR games in youth.

What is the significance of this project?

The impact of video games, including VR games, has been a "hot" topic for decades. Many scholars, policy makers and parents are concerned about the impact of video games on mood and aggression. Other scholars suggest video games may have more positive influences, such as reducing stress.

At present few studies have considered VR games, which are more immersive than traditional video games. It is anticipated that society will soon be asking questions about the potential impact of VR games and whether such games have more impact than traditional video games or other media such as television. Good data, using standardized methods and preregistered designs can assist policy makers and parents in understanding the impact of VR games.

What are the goals of the project?

This project will unfold across a number of preregistered randomized experimental designs over the next few years. Participants will include both young adults and teens (12-18.) In the first planned experiment we intend to attempt to replicate the results of Przybylski and colleagues (2014) regarding frustration and violent content in games as relates to aggression. In addition to replicating study #6 from this paper, we will extend the findings to VR games, both violent and nonviolent.

Future planned studies will include examinations of VR technology impact on stress reduction in youth, as well as cooperative behavior. All studies will be preregistered at, and will be published in peer-reviewed journals.


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The budget items include the basic launch VR equipment for the PlayStation system. This also includes several games (Batman Arkham and Driveclub) for VR. These include both violent and nonviolent games to allow us to test for aggression related effects. This equipment is expected to be used over several years in a series of randomized experiments. All experiments will be preregistered at prior to data collection.

Endorsed by

Dr. Ferguson's research plan in well thought out, financially inexpensive, and will likely have a large impact on the field. As a scholar who has been examining the effects of video games for years he has the expertise to follow through on this project. I look forward to seeing the results for this innovative and important study!
It is incredibly important for us to quickly obtain an objective and balanced perspective on the effects of virtual reality video games on behaviour, affect and cognition. Professor Ferguson is an experienced researcher in the field whom has contributed widely to the evidence base for non-VR games. This project will help to provide much needed insight into what effect VR games may have upon youth.

Meet the Team

Christopher J. Ferguson
Christopher J. Ferguson

Team Bio

The Psychotechnology Lab at Stetson University is led by Dr. Ferguson. The lab is staffed primarily by undergraduate students at Stetson University and is dedicated to providing research experience for undergraduate students, many of whom go on to graduate training in psychology, neuroscience, medicine and other fields. Our lab has been successful in including undergraduates as coauthors and lead authors on peer reviewed journal publications.

Christopher J. Ferguson

I am a professor of psychology at Stetson University. I have published over a hundred peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, the majority of which are related to media effects. I have published dozens of articles on video game effects in high impact journals in psychology, psychiatry, criminal justice, communication and pediatrics.

I was recently honored as a fellow of the American Psychological Association, and I currently serve on their Council of Representatives. In 2014 I was awarded an early career scientist award from the APA's Division 46 (Media Psychology and Technology.) I was part of VP Joe Biden's meetings on video games following the 2012 Sandy Hook Shooting and also participated at the 2013 CDC/IOM meetings on gun violence.

I obtained my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Central Florida. You can read some of my work at

Additional Information

The psychotechnology lab at Stetson University has an excellent track-record of including undergraduate students as coauthors on research projects, including some projects which are student led. All of our peer-reviewed work can be found at All work emanating from this series of studies will, likewise, be made openly available.

Project Backers

  • 8Backers
  • 19%Funded
  • $284Total Donations
  • $35.50Average Donation
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