Study: Playing Violent Games Helps with Stress and Depression

July 12, 2010 -

When not deflating the findings of game-hating researchers, Texas A&M International University Associate Professor Christopher Ferguson often conducts his own studies, including a recent example which indicates that violent videogame players handle stress better than non-players and can actually feel less depressed and stressful following a session with aggressive games.

The Hitman Study: Violent Video Game Exposure Effects on Aggressive Behavior, Hostile Feeling and Depression (press release) was authored by Ferguson and his fellow TAMIU colleague Stephanie Rueda. The study included 103 students from a “Hispanic-serving public university” in the Southern U.S. 62 were male and 41 were female, with 98 Hispanics, three Caucasian and two who declined to answer.

The authors utilized a Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT), which involves an accelerating sequence of simple numbers, in order to cause frustration in the participants. Those being studied played one of three games (Hitman: Blood Money, Call of Duty 2 or Madden 2007) post-PASAT. Madden was used in order to allow the researchers to “include a game with action, yet which was non-violent.”

Additionally, a fourth “no-game” control group was also used, in which participants were told that a technical malfunction would not allow them to play a game. This condition allowed “for the three video game conditions to be compared to time-related “cool down “from the initial frustration of the PASAT task.”

Ferguson and Rueda also utilized a version of the Taylor Competitive Reaction Time Test (TCRTT), in which participants are pitted against fictional opponents (which those being studied think are real) in a reaction time game. Participants, if they win, can choose both the “intensity and duration” of the blast” aimed at their “opponent.” The researchers also used various methods to measure videogame playing habits, aggressiveness, hostile feelings and depression severity. A follow-up survey was also conducted.

The researchers concluded:

No evidence was provided that short-term exposure to violent video games either increased or decreased aggressive behavior in the laboratory. Similarly violent game exposure in real life was not related to laboratory aggression. Given the use of effect size confidence intervals we can conclude that our evidence contradicts both the social learning and catharsis hypotheses regarding violent video game effects on aggressive behavior.
 

As with aggressive behavior, the evidence did not support that short-term randomized exposure to violent video games either increased or decreased hostile feelings or depression. By contrast long-term exposure to violent video games was associated with reduced hostile feelings and depression following a stressful task. Subjects who were exposed to violent video games were not less aggressive, but they were less hostile and depressed.

It was also noted that violent videogames could possibly considered as “mood management tools,” which could help treat mood disorders and other health-related issues.

Taking a little jab at other researchers, the pair added:

The fervor over violent video games which has become intensely politicized (we would argue this unfortunately extends to the scientific community) may be ‘much ado about nothing.’ In the end, a game may simply be a game.

Two caveats were posed about the study however: the sample of predominantly college Hispanic students should not be applied to “non-college populations” or to “other ethnic groups,” while “generalizing results using laboratory aggression measures… to serious acts of physical aggression or violence must be undertaken with the greatest caution, given the external validity limitations of such measures.”

Comments

Re: Study: Playing Violent Games Helps with Stress and ...

There was an article on here about a buddhist monk saying he plays violent video games to aid in conquering his desires as well.

"

Doom was my therapist...

Re: Study: Playing Violent Games Helps with Stress and ...

Maybe the non-game playing group was more stressed because they expected to play a game and then couldn't due to a "technical malfunction" ^^

Re: Study: Playing Violent Games Helps with Stress and ...

Maybe, but that wouldn't be the case with the non-violent game (Madden) players, and it still counters the idea that violent gamePLAY increases aggression..

Re: Study: Playing Violent Games Helps with Stress and ...

I play violent games after a hard/stressful day and I do feel better aferwords. :D

 
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ZippyDSMleeEh still rather subjective… the haters would be better off going after teen and beauty rags and magazines than fiction, fiction follows reality and going after fiction tends to turn into a bullying fest’s… plus its fiction its unrealistic to start with….02/27/2015 - 1:10am
MechaTama31That's a pretty difficult anatomy to break.02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
MechaTama31"the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy" <-- I'm sorry, but we are talking here about the woman who can roll up into a little ball and live to tell the tale, yes? ;)02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
Andrew EisenAs far as examples that could be culled from female game characters though, that one's pretty mild.02/26/2015 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenNot as much the heels or the suit in and of themselves but certainly the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy to show off her lady bits.02/26/2015 - 9:10pm
E. Zachary KnightWell, Samus's heels are certainly impracticable, but I wouldn't really call her Zero suit objectified. I don't really feel that the new Lara Croft is objectified either, but that is my subjective opinion.02/26/2015 - 9:08pm
Andrew EisenTomb Raider: No but we haven't seen much of anything yet. Samus: Yes.02/26/2015 - 9:07pm
ZippyDSMleeWould you call the new tomb raider objectified? WOuld Samus Aran from the new Smash bros be objectified?02/26/2015 - 9:02pm
WonderkarpI'm hoping they put the rest of the comic book ghostbusters in there. Ortiz and Rookie(From GB the game)02/26/2015 - 8:38pm
Wonderkarpghostbusters board game is doing great. getting close too a 3rd extra playable Character. Ron Alexander.02/26/2015 - 8:37pm
Andrew EisenSmurfette is not subjective. If there's more than one female character, it's not Smurfette. Anyway, as with everything on the list, Smurfette is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing.02/26/2015 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI think there's 5 women (out of 15, I think) but other than one being a bit more "hippy" than the others, they pretty much all have the same body type. Especially when compaired to the huge variety of male body types.02/26/2015 - 8:31pm
Wonderkarpso I dont see Smurfette as a bad thing. Unless like all your female characters are Smurfette. remember the Smurfs also had Sassette02/26/2015 - 8:29pm
E. Zachary KnightOne good example of the larger issues is one Anita used in the presentation, Blizzard's Overwatch game. There are a dozen men in the game with a dozen body types. But there are only 4 women with 2 body types, but 3 of them have the same one.02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
Wonderkarpthe smurfette thing is subjective to how many female characters you have. Take Sonic for example. You have Amy, who is obvious smurfette, but there's several other female characters now without that. Including the original animated seriescomics with Sally02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
E. Zachary KnightAE. Very true. I think that is where I was going, but it didn't come out right. Jack Harkness is sexy but not objectified. Whereas, a women would have to be objectified in order to be "sexy" in most games.02/26/2015 - 8:26pm
E. Zachary KnightAnd as Andrew pointed out, there is a big difference between a sexualized man, and an idealized man. But for some reason, there is no distinction between women in games. For the most part.02/26/2015 - 8:25pm
Andrew EisenI think one of the issues we run into repeatedly with these conversations is the confusion over "sexy" and "sexually objectified."02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightYet, for some reason, in orde rto have a sexualized women, she must be wearing lingerie or a bikini. Can't women be sexual and still dress for the job at hand?02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightThe problem I have with complaints of "sexualized men" is that men don't have to wear speedos to be sexualized. Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood/Doctor Who, was one sexy man, but he spent 99% of his time in a WW2 soldier's trenchcoat.02/26/2015 - 8:23pm
 

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