The level of presence is likely to influence the effect of media violence. This project examines the causes and consequences of presence in the context of violent video game play. In a between subjects design, 227 participants were randomly assigned to play either a violent or a nonviolent video game. The results are consistent with what would be predicted by social learning theory and are consistent with previous presence research. Causal modeling analyses reveal two separate paths to presence: from individual differences and condition. The first path reveals that individual differences (previous game use and gender) predict presence. Those who frequently play video games reported higher levels of presence than those who play video games less frequently. Males play more games but felt less presence than women. The second path is related to perceived violence: those who perceived the game to be more violent felt more presence than those who perceived less violence in the game. Both of these paths were influenced by frustration with the game, which reduced presence. Those who felt more presence felt more hostility and were more verbally aggressive than those who felt lower levels of presence. Higher levels of presence led to increased physically aggressive intentions. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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