Research Finds Negative Effects in Violent Videogames

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Research Finds Negative Effects in Violent Videogames


A new study claims to provide "the first experimental evidence" that violent videogames have a cumulative, long-term impact on those who play them.

A research team led by Professor Brad Bushman of the Ohio State University has found that people who played a violent videogame for three consecutive days exhibited "increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations" every day that they played.

"It's important to know the long-term causal effects of violent videogames, because so many young people regularly play these games," Bushman explained. "Playing videogames could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won't cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent videogames may have a cumulative effect on aggression."

The research looked at 70 French university students who were told they were participating in a study on the effects of videogame brightness. The students were assigned to play either violent games - Call of Duty 4, Condemned 2 and The Club - or non-violent ones - S3K Superbike, Dirt 2 and Pure - once per day, for 20 minutes at a time. At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.

In another test, those who played violent games subjected hidden opponents in a multiplayer game (who didn't actually exist) to increasingly longer and louder blasts of unpleasant noise each time they "won," while those who played non-violent games maintained their victory noise at a relatively constant level and duration throughout the period of the study.

"Hostile expectations are probably not the only reason that players of violent games are more aggressive, but our study suggests it is certainly one important factor," Bushman explained. "After playing a violent videogame, we found that people expect others to behave aggressively. That expectation may make them more defensive and more likely to respond with aggression themselves, as we saw in this study and in other studies we have conducted."

It's impossible to determine just how much aggression may build up in people who play violent games, he added, because it isn't "practical or ethical" to test them for longer periods of time. "I would expect that the increase in aggression would accumulate for more than three days. It may eventually level off," he said. "However, there is no theoretical reason to think that aggression would decrease over time, as long as players are still playing the violent games."

Source: Ohio State University [http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/violgametime.htm]


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Josh123914

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Nov 17, 2009
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So all those screaming kids on XBOX live can be 'cured' by playing Animal Crossing or Mario for a couple weeks?
Welp, looks like every mum who sees this study is getting a WiiU in the near-future.
 

jollybarracuda

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Oct 7, 2011
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Seems like pretty valid research. I guess the big issue though has never been "do games make people aggressive" but "do video games make people violent", two very different things, the latter of which is a lot harder to test because of human ethic laws and such silliness (kidding, of course).

But a lot of this research does seem to be pointing to the possibility that someone with pre-existing violent behaviors could, theoretically, become more prone to releasing that violence on people, with an increase in aggression caused by violent video games. Should be interesting to see where this research leads in a few years, and if we'll ever actually see a noticeable decline in violent games in the future.
 

kouriichi

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Sep 5, 2010
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Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. "Video Games can cause aggression, aggression can mean violence."

The same way football players are more likely to use steroids than a lazy teenager, a person who drives everyday is more likely to get in a car accident, and a surfer is more likely to be eaten by a shark. Theres bad in everything, but i dont see them banning bulk tubs of "Scooperman" because to much "Frozen Dairy Desert" can lead to heart failure.

In the end, studies like this get us nowhere, and never will. Just because people are more angry after a few thousand rounds of CoD, doesnt mean they will go out and 360 noscope the neighbors cat.
 

Shakura Jolithion

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Nov 9, 2009
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So is this more aggression, or is this people being more aggressive only immediately after having played the games? Because I think that's the next step to study, as what I got from this article doesn't give any indication of effects beyond aggression immediately after playing the games. Also, I'd like to see some of these studies done with people who watch sports, or other activities to get a better comparison of how entertainment media affects people.
 

sethisjimmy

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May 22, 2009
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Not only does this study not prove that violent video games make people commit more violence, but it also does not prove that violent video games even make people more aggressive. Unless you consider writing violent stories correlates into you being an aggressive person, which I think is silly.
 

Desworks

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Nov 18, 2009
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I would punch this professor in the face, but I'm having too much fun playing violent videogames.
 

Xanadu84

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Apr 9, 2008
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...And ultimately harmless hazing of an opponent correlates with actual anti-social behavior because...

This is kind of like saying that eating sugar correlates with animal abuse because you see kids biteing of the heads of Swedish fish. Where is the rationale behind saying that annoying a stranger significantly less then a lot of good natured pranks has any sort of connection with aggressive behavior? The assumption here is that a metaphorical stand in for real world violence(The loud sound) has external valididity for actual violence. Thats just so much additional research method noise added to the idea that pretend violence is a stand in for real world violence, which is the hypothesis being tested in the first place. It's logic that's about as circular as it gets.

I'm fine with the study being done generally. Research games more. But there are some wild and unsupported hypothesis that are implied by this study to people who don't know how to read a psychological study.
 

uchytjes

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Mar 19, 2011
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So because they play violent games they expect more people to act violent towards them? isn't that a good expectation for defense of one's self?
 

-Dragmire-

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Mar 29, 2011
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I would take these pseudoscientific studies more seriously if they stopped comparing it to various types of chemical consumption and gave a detailed analysis to what differentiates the results of the prolonged consumption of violent interactive media from violent non interactive media.
 

ScrabbitRabbit

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Andy Chalk said:
At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.
This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.

EDIT: Scratch the above, I completely misinterpreted what was written.
 

Tanis

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Aug 30, 2010
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All I'm saying is...

Hilter, Stalin, Mao, Khan...

None of THEM ever played a video game.
 

Riobux

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Apr 15, 2009
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You know, alternatively violent video games produces a heighten violent imagination, or they are more likely to perceive FICTIONAL characters to doing violent things because they've been constantly exposed to a medium where problems are fixed violent. He may be correct, but it's REALLY lacking ecological validity and I'm really hoping the article is being paraphrased and not they've deduced that violent video-games have long time negative effects from three days of playing video games leading to a tendency to be more violent with the imagination. Which by the way, violent imagination means nothing in terms of violent behaviour.
 

Riobux

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ScrabbitRabbit said:
This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.
Actually, they got a neutral story and were told "okay, the main character in this neutral story (e.g. a story about a man breaking down) has a problem, how would that main character (not the character in the games people are playing) fix the problem in the story?". It's still flawed, but not because that.
 

Doclector

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Aug 22, 2009
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So, it's not at all possible that, from a creative standpoint, people who recently played violent games were more likely to create violent storylines.

No, they totally now expect that everyone's going to be violent.

Honestly, it's more viable and less well, fucktarded, than most of these kinds of studies, but I still don't believe it.
 

Doom972

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Dec 25, 2008
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Tanis said:
All I'm saying is...

Hilter, Stalin, Mao, Khan...

None of THEM ever played a video game.
Must have been one of those damn paintings, books, music or films. They really should just ban all of these just to be safe.

OT: If you ask someone questions right after a long session of a video game, he might still be in that game's state of mind and answer accordingly. It doesn't mean that he's a more aggressive person or more likely to commit violent acts. Also, some people have certain issues that video games can help air out and prevent potential breakdown in the future.
 

Shuguard

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ScrabbitRabbit said:
Andy Chalk said:
At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.
This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.
glad someone else caught that one. :)
I couldn't stop laughing at the lack of common sense in that one.
 

Callate

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Dec 5, 2008
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I give them credit that at least this looks like they made a serious attempt at research and not just gaming the effort (so to speak) to gain the appropriately sensationalist headlines.

That said, I don't think you can necessarily gauge a long-term effect, even if it appears to be cumulative, on how people react immediately after playing a violent game. What if the seeming increase in aggression is related to re-enforcing the skill-sets necessary to excel in the (of necessity) aggressive game, but there would be no actual increase in other aggressive behaviors an hour later?
 

Lawyer105

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Apr 15, 2009
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I wonder how many studies have been done on whether action/horror movies make people more violent and/or aggressive. Or *gasp* whether action/horror NOVELS make people more violent and/or aggressive.

Probably not... those are respectable media, not like this modern trash you get today. Oh wait... it's EXACTLY the same for anyone who isn't an idiot. Too bad so many people are idiots.