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Video game play as nightmare protection: a replication and extension

Faculty Advisor




nightmares, video games, dreams, sex differences

Abstract (summary)

This inquiry is a replication and extension of a recent study with military gamers examining the thesis that the play of video games might act as a type of nightmare protection. This hypothesis is based on the idea of a well-rehearsed defense due to game play, a numbing against violence and the idea that memories in the six hours post trauma are best interrupted with a visual cognitive task, like video game play. This replication was done on university students who had experienced a trauma in the past and reported a dream associated with that trauma along with a recent dream. Controls were emotional reactivity and trauma history. We conclude that male high-end gamers seemed to be less troubled by nightmares while female high-end gamers were the most troubled by nightmares. So what is different between these two types of gamers? Three suggestions are considered, game genre, game sociability, and sex role conflict. It seems that the nightmare protection hypothesis of video game play should be qualified to apply to male high end gamers who play few casual games, play socially, and do not seem to experience sex role conflict due to type of game play.

Publication Information

Gackenbach, J., Darlington, M., Ferguson, M., & Boyes, A. (2013). Video game play as nightmare protection: A replication and extension. Dreaming, 23(2), 97-111. doi:10.1037/a0032455


Item Type

Article Post-Print




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