The role of motivation to change and mindsets in a game promoted for mental health

Aniek Wols*, Marlou Poppelaars, Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff, Isabela Granic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental health disorders among young adults, leading to debilitating outcomes. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in the use of video games to prevent and treat mental health problems. Insight into the motivational factors that influence game selection and engagement will inform us on how to tailor the promotion of mental health games. The primary aims of the current study were to examine whether motivation to change, emotion mindset, and stress mindset influenced (a) the choice for, and (b) engagement with, a game promoted as a mental health game. The secondary aim was to examine whether emotion and stress mindsets changed after playing a game promoted as a mental health game.

Young adults (n=129; 95 women; 82.2% university students) with elevated mental health symptoms viewed two trailers, in which the same commercial video game was presented as a mental health game and as an entertainment game.

Results showed that motivation to change and mindsets did not influence game choice, and participants who chose the mental health trailer played the game for a similar period of time as participants who chose the entertainment trailer, regardless of their motivation to change or mindsets. Additionally, after gameplay participants who chose the mental health trailer reported a decrease in the belief that the effects of stress are debilitating. These results suggest that video games aiming to improve mental health may benefit from promoting the game's mental health benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100371
Number of pages11
JournalEntertainment Computing
Volume35
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Mental health
  • Video games
  • Motivation to change
  • Stress mindset
  • Emotion mindset
  • Engagement
  • IMPLICIT THEORIES
  • SERIOUS GAMES
  • STRESS
  • PSYCHOTHERAPY
  • ADOLESCENTS
  • PERSONALITY
  • DISORDERS
  • BELIEFS
  • ANXIETY
  • ACHIEVEMENT

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