Date of Award

12-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Rodriguez II, Benjamin

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental illness that affects thousands of military service members and veterans every year. Strongly associated with PTSD are symptoms of depression, life satisfaction and physical health complaints. Playing video games has been shown in the past to reduce symptoms of PTSD, other mental illnesses, and reduce the experience of pain. The purpose of this study was to examine these relationships, specifically regarding a 3-4 hour per week duration that has been particularly beneficial to military service members in the past. Participants included n = 400 military service members or veterans who had served in a combat zone and was relatively representative of the U.S. military population. Participants completed a number of measures assessing PTSD and depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, physical health, military service, and video game play behaviors. Results indicated that no relationship exists between the duration of video game play PTSD symptoms severity, unless the PTSD symptoms were present first. A linear relationship was also noted between video game play duration and depressive symptoms. No significant relationship was observed between video game play duration and life satisfaction or physical health ailments. These findings seem to contradict some of the previous literature, though may indicate that playing video games as a utilization of an avoidance strategy could be detrimental to one’s mental health.

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