How Does Interactivity in a Video Game Render People Susceptible? A Mediating Role of Concrete-level Action Identity in Immersive Media
Action identification theory (Vallacher & Wegner, 2012) posits that individuals become open to new meanings of actions when the actions are represented in their minds as concrete details (i.e., understanding actions as concrete identities), rather than abstract meanings (i.e., understanding actions as abstract identities). Based on this, we predicted that video game interactivity renders players susceptible to new ideas of actions performed in a video game, by causing them to conceive the actions as concrete details. In a 2 (medium type: interactive vs. non-interactive) x 2 (meaning of hunting: beneficial vs. harmful) between-subjects experiment (N = 111), participants played or watched a hunting simulation game, then expressed their agreement on a news article reporting either the benefit or harm of hunting. The interactivity group, compared to the non-interactivity group, described their game experience as concrete actions, indicating that they construed actions as concrete identities. Further, these concrete identities led to greater agreement with the news article regardless whether benefit or harm of hunting was reported. These results suggest an indirect effect of interactivity on participants’ susceptibility to a new idea. Implications for using the mental representation approach in media-effect studies were discussed.
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