Mediators and moderators of the association between stalking victimization and psychological distress
Despite concerted public efforts to reverse the trend, a persistent gender gap remains in many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. Earlier research has shown training on challenging action video games improves the type of cognitions crucial for STEM success. Equal to cognitive abilities in influence, high levels of self-efficacy in math and science predict involvement in STEM. Both action video game playing and STEM self-efficacy reflect broader social influences such that men play action games at a much higher rate than women and exhibit more self-efficacy for math and science. Using two research methods, cross-sectional and experimental, our study investigated the interaction between these two factors on interest and capabilities for STEM. Results supported existing findings as well as revealed novel findings in video game and self-efficacy research. Using a cross-sectional method, Study 1 predicted that action video gamers are much more likely to major in a hard STEM discipline, such as physics, engineering or computer science, than non-action video gamers. Notably, the effect of gender disappeared when the analysis on hard STEM major selection also considered the contribution of SAT/ACT math scores and action video gaming. However, Study 1 also found distinct video game preferences between the genders, while men and women played low-action games, like puzzle or relationship games, at the same rate, whereas men played far more action or semi-action games, such as first-person shooters or role playing games. Since gender was not indicated as significant factor, further exploration into possible latent variables revealed that high levels of the personality trait Openness were common to both action video gamers and hard STEM majors. Study 2 used a mixed-model experimental design to investigate the relations between action video game playing, cognitive improvements, increases in self-efficacy, and predispositions for STEM involvement. Though constrained by a small sample size, Study 2 suggests two genres of video gaming, 3D puzzle and action, improve cognitive abilities, though at varying levels, and increase self-efficacy in spatial-thinking, a core STEM capability. The results in Study 2 did not show an effect for gender; men and women increased in both at the same rate. Ultimately, the findings expand the understanding of video game effects on cognition and self-efficacy, in general, and in particular, illuminates how video gaming simultaneously represents and influences predispositions for science and math fields.