V International Baltic Psychology Conference
Psychology in the Baltics: at the crossroads
August 22 - 25, 2002 in Tartu, Estonia

ABSTRACTS : Valsiner

Keynote presentation

CREATING ARENAS FOR ACTION: Videogames and Violence

Jaan Valsiner and Nicole Capezza

Department of Psychology, Clark University
Worcester, Ma. 01610, USA
jvalsiner@clarku.edu    Nicole4880@aol.com

In the contemporary world of globalization of violence and its mass media presentation, the question of the psychological organization of any violent act acquires prominence for psychological science. We will analyze the microgenetic structure of the act of "pulling the trigger"--the decision process in shooting (or not shooting) a gun to hit different targets of varied cultural value. Data from an experimental setting that imitate the act of shooting under laboratory conditions (obtained from young adults in the U.S.A and in Estonia) will be used to show that the shooting decision entails an intricate coordination of the personal-cultural regulatory system with the interpreted collective-cultural meanings of the targets. Previous acquaintance with videogames makes it possible (but does not cause) to shoot targets that resemble material from videogames. The decision of shooting is a constructed act of the person under each particular set of circumstances-- yet the person's readiness (or unreadiness) to shoot at a target is pre-guided through cultural canalization. Socialization for potential violence takes place in a disguise of the primacy of social discourse condemning violence. Activity settings such as videogames operate as cultural arenas where (in play) the persons are oriented towards acceptance of the "game rules" for violent action when a particular real-life situation becomes interpreted "as-if" it is similar to that of a game.

Keywords: decision process, violence, self-regulation, semiotic mediation.

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