I'm Professor Andy Przybylski (shuh-bill-ski) a social science researcher at the University of Oxford. My work is mainly concerned with applying psychological models of motivation and health to study how people interact with virtual environments including video games and social media. I'm particularly interested in integrating open, robust, and reproducible science with evidence-based policymaking in the digital age.
Video game play is positively correlated with well-being
N Johannes, M Vuorre & AK Przybylski
People have never played more video games, and many stakeholders are worried that this activity might be bad for players. So far, research has not had adequate data to test whether these worries are justified and if policymakers should act to regulate video game play time. We attempt to provide much-needed evidence with adequate data. Whereas previous research had to rely on self-reported play behaviour, we collaborated with two games companies, Electronic Arts and Nintendo of America, to obtain players' actual play behaviour. We surveyed players of Plantsvs.Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons for their well-being, motivations and need satisfaction during play, and merged their responses with telemetry data (i.e. logged game play). Contrary to many fears that excessive play time will lead to addiction and poor mental health, we found a small positive relation between game play and affective well-being. Need satisfaction and motivations during play did not interact with play time but were instead independently related to well-being. Our results advance the field in two important ways. First, we show that collaborations with industry partners can be done to high academic standards in an ethical and transparent fashion. Second, we deliver much-needed evidence to policymakers on the link between play and mental health.
USE CAUTION WHEN APPLYING BEHVIOURAL SCIENCE TO POLICY
AK Przybylski, N Weinstein, L DeBruine et al.
Social and behavioural scientists have attempted to speak to the COVID-19 crisis. But is behavioural research on COVID-19 suitable for making policy decisions? We offer a taxonomy that lets our science advance in ‘evidence readiness levels’ to be suitable for policy. We caution practitioners to take extreme care translating our findings to applications.
INVESTIGATING THE MOTIVATIONAL AND PSYCHOSOCIAL DYNAMICS OF DYSREGULATED GAMING: EVIDENCE FROM A PREREGISTERED COHORT STUDY
AK Przybylski & N Weinstein
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and World Health Organization (WHO) have called for research investigating the clinical relevance of dysregulated video-game play. A growing number of exploratory studies have applied self-determination theory to probe the psychological dynamics of problematic gaming, but little is known about these dynamics in adolescents—the targets of most concerns—or the extent to which dysregulated gaming, in turn, affects functioning. In our study of British adolescents and their caregivers (n = 2,008), we adopted a confirmatory lens to test the extent to which basic psychological need satisfactions and frustrations underlie dysfunctional gaming behavior. The results, in line with preregistered sampling and data-analysis plans, indicated the frustrations, but not the absence of satisfactions, of psychological needs predicted adolescents’ dysregulated gaming and psychosocial functioning. Our discussion focuses on the clinical significance of gaming dysregulation and the advantages of transparent scientific practices for research informed by, and meant to inform, APA and WHO guidance.
SOCIAL MEDIA’S ENDURING EFFECT ON ADOLESCENT LIFE SATISFACTION
A Orben, T Dienlin, & AK Przybylski
In this study, we used large-scale representative panel data to disentangle the between-person and within-person relations linking adolescent social media use and well-being. We found that social media use is not, in and of itself, a strong predictor of life satisfaction across the adolescent population. Instead, social media effects are nuanced, small at best, reciprocal over time, gender specific, and contingent on analytic methods.
AK Przybylski & N Weinstein
In this study, we investigated the extent to which adolescents who spend time playing violent video games exhibit higher levels of aggressive behaviour when compared with those who do not. A large sample of British adolescent participants (n = 1004) aged 14 and 15 years and an equal number of their carers were interviewed. Young people provided reports of their recent gaming experiences. Further, the violent contents of these games were coded using official EU and US ratings, and carers provided evaluations of their adolescents' aggressive behaviours in the past month. Following a preregistered analysis plan, multiple regression analyses tested the hypothesis that recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behaviour. Results did not support this prediction, nor did they support the idea that the relationship between these factors follows a nonlinear parabolic function. There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour. Sensitivity and exploratory analyses indicated these null effects extended across multiple operationalizations of violent game engagement and when the focus was on another behavioural outcome, namely, prosocial behaviour. The discussion presents an interpretation of this pattern of effects in terms of both the ongoing scientific and policy debates around violent video games, and emerging standards for robust evidence-based policy concerning young people's technology use.