Posted on April 10th, 2013 No comments
We were pleased to have hosted a visit from Zongkui Zhou, Ph.D., a professor at the Central China Normal University (CCNU) where he is dean of the School of Psychology. He serves as the Director of the Key Laboratory of Adolescent CyberPsychology and Behavior affiliated to the National Ministry of Education, China. We have been discussing various possible research collaborations. Here is a picture taken during his visit:
Dr. Zhou and Dr. Gackenbach are in the front row with Dr. Iain Macpherson, Dr. William Wei, Dr. David McLaughlin and Dr. Melike Schalomon in the back row.
Jayne Gackenbach, Arielle Boyes and Sarah Gahr
As technology use has become increasingly pervasive, it is of interest to examine heavy social media users compared to high end video game players in terms of the content of a recent dream gathered from each group. We would expect gamers to evidence more aggression and less pro-social interactions, while we would expect the opposite of high end social media users. We collected over 500 surveys from students at a Western Canadian University who varied along these dimensions. Of the first 127 randomly chosen dreams which were content analyzed using the Hall and Van de Castle (HVDC) system, two extreme media use groups were identified. Those who were Gamers (n=23) (males=19; females=4). They reported playing from several times a week to daily and had played a video game in the 24 hours prior to taking the survey almost all of which were combat centric. The second group was identified as high social media users (n=33) (males=3; females=30). They reported infrequent gaming (average less than once a month to once a month) but frequent social media use, i.e., daily facebook plus daily to several times a week twitter, tumblr or instgram use. Not surprisingly these media use groups fell along sex lines. Therefore they were separately compared to the HVDC norms as a function of sex. The major finding was that there were 11 differences from the male norms for the gamers and nine differences from the female norms for the social media group. Using Domhoff and Schneider’s system of data entry there are 25 possible statistical tests done.
In terms of the social interaction percentages the gamers, as hypothesized, compared to the male norms had higher aggression/friendliness percents and higher physical aggression. But as shown in our earlier work there was no difference in aggressor percent nor in dreams with at least one aggression. The social media users, relative to the female norms, were also higher on the aggression/friendliness percent but did not differ in the physical aggression percent or the other two variables involving aggression. In terms of prosocial interactions, there was no difference from the same sex norms for either group for befriender percent. Both media use groups dreams were coded as having fewer dreams with at least one incident of friendliness. The social interaction ratios showed some differences as a function of media use groups. Specifically, the friendliness per character index was lower for the gamers than the male norms but this was also the case for the social media users relative to the female norms. We can conclude with this minimal data set that the only difference between the media groups, relative to their norms, was in terms of a bit more aggression in the gamers, with that one exception it seems that their differences from the norms are more generational than type of media used.
Jayne Gackenbach and Carson Flockhart
It has been hypothesized that video game play during the day may act as protection from fears during sleep, which are sufficient to disturb sleep. In this research program we have examined the dreams of heavy video game players. While most are male and play combat centric games, this has not always been the case in this program of work. In any event we have found in some data that nightmares are less often reported among heavy players, when controlling for sex, or if no difference in incidence the response of the game playing dreamer to the self-identified nightmare has been positive.
The nightmare protection thesis was based upon the concept that defensive rehearsal in at least combat centric video game play, if done repeatedly over a long period of time, would result in well learned defensive responses. These would generalize to altered states, in this case dreams. This process is similar to the imagery rehearsal technique for treating nightmares.
Also supporting the thesis is the numbing towards violence associated with serious combat centric game play which could result in a lessened nightmarish experience in the dream. Finally, it has been pointed out that there is a critical window of time following trauma where postrauma memories can be interfered with by engaging in a visuospatial cognitive task. Video game play is one such task.
In two studies, one on military gamers and a replication and extension on students who experienced trauma, we found support for a qualified nightmare protection function of video game play. In these studies the classic predictors of nightmares were controlled, emotional reactivity and past history of trauma, allowing for the play of video games to be considered regarding any nightmarish type of dream content. The thesis seems clearest for males playing combat centric games. However, female high-end gamers were surprisingly the most troubled by nightmares. This can be interpreted both by sex role inconsistency, playing combat games is not a traditional female type of play, and game genre female high end games experience.
In this second replication, we administered the same set of questionnaires to primary and secondary first responders online through prescreening of a university subject pool and through website solicitation. The same pattern of results as with the student population was observed. As before emotional reactivity and history of trauma were controlled for in the ANCOVA’s of sex x game play groups on subscales of the dream content analysis using a threat simulation scale. That is, high end male first responder gamers, who focus primarily on combat centric games, were found to show less overall threat and fewer targets of threat in their dreams than high end female first responder gamers. The opposite was true for low end first responder gamers, more threat in the males’ dreams than the females. Differences in results in the three studies testing the nightmare protection thesis of game play will also be examined.
While our group has been investigating the association between gaming and nightmares or nightmarish content in dreams, we have not considered the role of social media. The time has come with the widespread and pervasive use of such media to consider if simply being in a virtual world where you have some control of the “variables” is sufficient for nightmare protection or if the specific of game play, i.e. rehearsal of combat readiness, is needed. This inquiry was undertaken with about 700 primarily undergraduate students at a western Canadian university. Preliminary data analysis (n=94) is discussed herein. Three gaming and three social media frequency variables were considered along with history of nightmares, self-assessment of a reported dream as a nightmare, and judges coding of threat simulation in the same dream were entered into a varimax rotated factor analysis. Nightmares were not expected to be associated with gaming and indeed factor one loaded frequency of game play, playing in the 24 hours prior to filling out the survey and using social media game sites with the dream they reported as not being a nightmare. The three social media variables (Facebook, twitter, or other nongame social media) frequency of use loaded together on the second factor with none of the nightmare variables. The third factor loaded the lack of frequent Facebook use with higher average monthly nightmares, more likely to report this dream as a nightmare, and the coded dream threat as not being objective. This is surprising as we had a ceiling effect with frequency of Facebook use. About two thirds of this subsample, where threat in dreams was coded, reported Facebook use several times a day with another 18% reporting it as a daily occurrence. While the expected gamer finding was supported, what’s new here is that those that do not embrace Facebook, to the extent of their peers, also report more distress in dreams. These data are preliminary and full data analysis on nightmares, threat simulation coding and social media/gaming use will be reported.
Posted on May 29th, 2012 No comments
I am following up on previous research into gaming as potentially nightmare protection and am looking for first responders. Here is the post I have created soliciting people with that background. If you know anyone who is a first responder please feel free to pass along this invitation.
Invitation to First Responders for Research Participation
My name is Jayne Gackenbach and I do research on the effects of video game play on dreams. I also co-teach a course here at MacEwan University on video games and have written a book for my students on the effects of gaming coauthored with my gamer son (Play Reality: How Video Games are Changing Everything). My research into military gamers was featured in an article, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal in print and online:
Interview with Chris Shea for the Wall Street Journal which appeared Jan.21/22 2012
This article is based on this research which was published in the journal Dreaming:
Gackenbach, J.I., Ellerman, E. & Hall, C. (2011). Video Game Play as Nightmare Protection: A Preliminary Inquiry in Military Gamers. Dreaming. 21(4), 221-245.
I would like to repeat this study, but this time with first responder gamers and that is why I am writing your website. I have gotten permission from the administrator of your website to post on the forums and announce this research project.
Here is the link to the survey:
It may take up to an hour to fill out so be sure you have the time to participate before you begin.
If you know any first responders who are not part of this website please feel free to pass along this invitation to participate in research.
Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.
Grant MacEwan University
Posted on July 29th, 2011 No comments
I’ve been doing a show on the psychology of video game play for several months now and thought I’d tell you something of what we have done and what we plan for the fall term. You can see our list of online radio shows here, Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain? We currently have 10 shows archived that can be downloaded 24/7. The available shows include these topics: children and gaming, exergaming, gamification, gaming as treatment for PTSD, games for health, game addiction, and gaming and aggression. Here is the list of interviews/programs we have planned for the fall 2011 and early winter 2012:
- Mia Consalvo – Big Fish games research as casual gaming (late August release)
- Jesper Juul – the Casual Revolution (first half Sept release)
- Amy Bruckman – cooperation/constructive and education implications (late sept release)
- Jose Zagal – teaching about video games (early Oct release)
- Evelyn Ellerman – role of gaming in communication studies field (late Oct release)
- Sandy Rosenberg – media consultant’s view of gaming in society (early Nov release)
- Patrick Markey – personality as predictor of aggression from gaming (late Nov release)
- Barry Grant – horror in media and in games (early Dec release)
- Jeremy Hsu – gaming in the military (late Dec release)
- Walter Boot – attention, memory and executive control (early Jan 2012 release)
- John Sharp – “The Secret (Art) History of Games” (late Jan 2012 release)
Most of these interviews have been done and are currently being edited. It’s been a fascinating journey meeting and chatting with these game researchers and commentators.
Posted on March 17th, 2011 No comments
I’ve reached an agreement with Matrix Media, a national talk radio syndication firm. Matrix is the company that launched Animal Planet Radio, Travel Channel Radio and the HGTV Design Minutes. I’ll be working with Matrix to produce a weekly radio show titled “Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain? You can hear the show at http://webtalkradio.net/shows/video-games-brain-gain-or-drain/ . It’s available 24/7.
As you may or may not know, my research and writing history has been primarily about dreams and consciousness. It is only in the last decade that I have turned my attention to video games. In the process of doing my research on the effects of gaming on various states of consciousness, as a player, mother and psychologist, I’ve learned about video game play. I co-teach an introductory course here at MacEwan on video games, and am editing and cowriting two books on video games, in addition to my ongoing research program. Thus, when I was approached by Matrix Media, it occurred to me that my unique blend of expertise might make for an interesting radio talk show.
If there are any topics, issues or events that you’d like to see me cover on the radio show, just drop me a line and I’ll see if I can work them into the editorial calendar. On that same note, if you have a guest that you’d like to recommend for an interview, in keeping with the content, of course, I’ll be happy to consider it. Here I would broaden this call for suggestions to “Technology and Consciousness”.
Finally, if you have a business, a book or a service that could benefit from aligning with my content through sponsorship, I’d like to put you in touch with Mary Lou Davidson from Matrix. Mary Lou will want to learn more about your business and your marketing objective to see if there is a fit – and how we can help you. Let me know, or contact Mary Lou directly at MaryLou@matrixmediainc.com – 941-379-1440.
Posted on August 5th, 2010 No comments
For the last two years we have been collecting information from serious video game players along several dimensions. These include video game history, several self report scales looking at aspects of attention (i.e., mindfulness, immersion and presence) and dreams. We are going to take these scales down at the end of 2010 so this is the last chance to participate in this ongoing research effort. Read the rest of this entry »