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Digital games effects on children's social cognition: an experimental study

Grant number: 18/03936-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2018
Effective date (End): February 29, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Human Development Psychology
Acordo de Cooperação: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Débora de Hollanda Souza
Grantee:Livia Scienza
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/50909-8 - INCT 2014: Behavior, Cognition and Teaching (INCT-ECCE): relational learning and symbolic functioning, AP.TEM


In the last decade, the number of digital games of all types has increased, eminently with the design of game management platforms and the diffusion of eSports. Video games are a form of entertainment, but they are also being used in school settings, hospitals and psychotherapeutic environments as tools for rehabilitation and for promoting cognitive and behavioral skills. Studies on the impacts of this type of media on its users have been conducted since the popularization of the first games in the 1970s. However, evidence suggesting that games can mediate interpersonal relationships, as well as promote or inhibit prossocial behavior and empathy are recent; the focus of this research has been previously restricted to its aggressive nature and to violence desensitization associated with long exposures to the technology in question. Although the majority of digital games consumers are adolescents and adults, the "digital natives" born in this century have immediate access to interactive technologies. For this reason, the way in which children have been affected by digital games is a matter of academic concern. Specifically, the impact of games on social skills and on the way in which children interpret their own mental phenomena and the mental phenomena of others (Theory of Mind) is an issue that deserves further investigation. Thus, the present study aims to investigate possible relationships between exposure to digital games (neutral, empathic and violent)on scores obtained on an adapted version of the Dictator Game, as well as to assess possible moderating effects of empathy and theory of mind on the results. It is hypothesized that children exposed to the games in the "prossocial" category will share more stickers than those exposed to neutral or violent games. It is also antecipated that participants with higher empathy and theory of mind scores will provide more figures in the Dictator's Game than those with lower scores. (AU)

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