What would my avatar do? Video games and risky decision making
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Several decades of research have established that video game experience is associated with differences in social information processing, visual-spatial processing, and cognitive control. Fewer studies have examined the relationship between video game experience and risky decision making outside of the gaming environment. The current set of studies examined the hypothesis that video game experience is associated with riskier decision making due to differential sensitivity to outcomes (i.e., reward, punishment). Study 1 was designed to explore the relationships between video game experience, risky decision making, and sensitivity to outcomes in a large sample of individuals. Study 2 was designed to investigate the association between individual differences in video game experience and the neural correlates of outcome sensitivity. Finally, Study 3 was designed to establish a causal relationship between immediate, brief experience with a video game and sensitivity to outcomes. The findings from the three studies indicate that video game experience is associated with differences in outcome sensitivity, but the relationship is complex and may depend on various factors, such as the genre of the video game and the presence of symptoms of pathological use. The data from the current set of studies should serve as a starting point for further research examining video games and risky decision making.