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.

Interactivity; susceptibility; action-identity; mental representation video game
Author biographies

Young June Sah

Kangwon National University

Young June Sah (PhD, Michigan State University) is a Research Professor in the Social Integration Research Center at Kangwon National University. His research interests include psychological and behavioral effects of media technologies and their cognitive mechanisms.

Wei Peng

Michigan State University

Wei Peng (PhD, University of Southern California) is a Professor in the Department of Media and Information, Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the psychological and social mechanisms of behavior change and their application in the design of interactive media for health and wellness promotion.


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