Extensions Of The Proteus Effect On Intergroup Aggression In The Real World

Ian Hawkins, Muniba Saleem, Bryan Gibson, Brad J. Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Video game depictions of racial minorities are often stereotyped and likely to activate aggressive schema and behaviors. Using the theoretical framework of Proteus Effect, we manipulated the avatar race (White or Black) of main and enemy characters in a video game as well as the race of a partner in an aggressive behavior task. This allows for a more complete test of how mediated intergroup aggression translates to behavior in the real world. For White participants, a significant 3-way interaction between the race of the main character, enemy character, and real-world partner emerged. Specifically, participants were more aggressive toward White partners in intergroup conditions compared to same-race conditions. A similar pattern of results was found for motivations to harm the real-world partner. We discuss the possibility that violent intergroup scenarios in video games may influence aggression in some real-world situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-487
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Aggression
  • Avatar Race
  • Intergroup
  • Proteus Effect
  • Stereotyping


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