Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology



First Advisor

Thomas W. Lombardo

Second Advisor

Matthew B. Reysen

Third Advisor

Karen A. Christoff

Relational Format



Introduction: prior video game playing (vgp) research has generated mixed empirical findings. Recent studies suggested positive effects vgp may have on cognitive skills, particularly improvements in visuospatial skills, processing speed, working memory, multitasking, and problem solving skills. By contrast, other studies have suggested that vgp leads to lower academic performance - indicating further research on vgp effects is needed. This study investigated the effects of vgp on cognitive skills and academic performance. Methods: 208 participants were recruited from the University of Mississippi psychology department in exchange for research participation credit. The sample was 68.9% female and 31.1% male. Ages ranged from 18-40, though 92.9% of participants were between the ages of 18-21. Ethnic breakdown was - 77.5% Caucasian, 12.9% African American, 6.2% Asian, 1.0% Hispanic, and 2.4% other. Participants were administered a battery of demographic and vgp habit questionnaires, and measures of problem solving, executive control, time management, memory, attention, and spatial skills. Participants were divided into three groups - heavy gamers (5+ hours vgp/week), sometime gamers (1-4 hours/week), and non-gamers (0 hours/week). Results: sometime video game players were found to perform better on measures of time management (f (2, 205) = 4.15, p = .017), and memory (f (7, 200) = 2.21, p = .035); and marginally better on measures of problem solving (f (2, 205) = 2.70, p = .07), and executive control (f (7, 200) = 2.05, p = .051) than were heavy gamers and non-gamers. Heavy gamers also reported the greatest number of problems related to their game playing, (f (2, 131) = 6.30, p = .02). Additionally, time management was found to be related to academic performance, (f (42, 164) = 1.46, p = .05). Finally, heavy gamers performed best on measures of spatial skills, folloby sometime gamers and non-gamers (f (2, 205) = 3.29, p = 0.39). Conclusion: these findings suggest the consequences of vgp are complex. Video game playing appears to positively affect skills such as time management, problem solving, executive control, memory, and spatial abilities when performed in moderation. However, as frequency of playing increases, the time management detriments associated may counterbalance gains.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology



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