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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Michael ChandraYou want a debate? Build a wall between you and the poisoned well. Make clear you despise it, despise the behaviour. Then get into the other issues you are troubled with, and don't say a single word again about the poisoned well.09/19/2014 - 3:46am
Michael ChandraAnd someone claiming #notyourshield was to be taken serious, when chatlogs show they wanted it going to hide even more harassment behind? Yeah, not buying a word you're saying. You poisoned your own well.09/19/2014 - 3:45am
Michael Chandraallegedly fired over giving a game a mediocre review and the company threatened to pull ads? Sorry but I ain't buying this.09/19/2014 - 3:45am
Michael ChandraBut people arguing this is horrible and just about ethics, even though there's very little support that journalistic integrity was actually violated here, while they never spoke up when a journalist was09/19/2014 - 3:43am
Michael ChandraIf people start with condemning the way GamersGate was used as a misdirection, then use a better hashtag, that would work in convincing me they mean it.09/19/2014 - 3:43am
Andrew EisenOoo, this one came down to the wire! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/749082525/nefarious09/19/2014 - 1:03am
Andrew EisenI don't doubt that many are truly interested in journalistic integrity. The problem I'm often seeing is they seem to have no idea how or where to talk about it.09/18/2014 - 11:46pm
Andrew EisenDidn't word that well. Busy at work. I've seen people claim that GamerGate is solely about ethics and transparency in games journalism and then go on to show that what they're really after is silencing those who talk about gender issues in games.09/18/2014 - 11:45pm
Kronodebate. Becaus apparently people who only post on Reddit are supposed to police twitter before they're allowed to question anything about the people involved.09/18/2014 - 10:40pm
KronoI highly doubt many, if any are using journalistic integrity as a cover for harassment. The people harassing are essentially trolls. They aren't interested in subtle. More often it's othe other way around. People use "but X is being harassed" to shut down09/18/2014 - 10:38pm
Andrew EisenAnd exacerbating everything is the fact that all the cries of ethics violations have been obnoxious and easily proven false.09/18/2014 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenProblem is, I would imagine, the sheer number of people who are using journalistic integrity as a cover for their harassing actions or only bringing it up on the false pretense of journalistic integrity.09/18/2014 - 8:47pm
Andrew EisenHaving said that, I can certainly see how one would be frustrated if they truly just wanted to talk about journalistic integrity and someone said they were one of the people harassing Sarkeesian, Quinn and others (though I've seen no examples of that).09/18/2014 - 8:44pm
KronoThat's been the common refrain, that talk of journalism ethics is just an excuse to harass people.09/18/2014 - 8:44pm
KronoLines like "like a partial compromise with the howling trolls who’ve latched onto ‘ethics’ as the latest flag in their onslaught against evolution and inclusion." are taring everyone questioning the ethics as a harasser.09/18/2014 - 8:43pm
Andrew EisenKrono - Except, none of the articles were talking about gamers complaining about journalist ethics, let alone called them white male misogynists. They were talking about the gamers who were harassing others.09/18/2014 - 8:36pm
Kronomakes plenty of sense. It's rather hard to dismiss someone as a white guy running a sock puppet when they've posted proof they're a woman, or black, or another minority.09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Kronothat any critics of journalists were white guys that hated women, and could be dismissed as such. It seems to have helped some. It's kind of difficult to maintain the white guy narrative in the face of a bunch of women and non-white guys. So the tag09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Kronothat, someone vented on a #gamergate 4chan thread about being dismissed like that. The suggestion they got in return was to organize their own hashtag in response, with #NotYourShield being suggested. Thus the tag came into use to combat the undercurrent09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
Kronomuch more general problem. And while several of the articles were fairly tame, they spured a bunch of people to dismiss any critics of the journalism involved as misogynistic men. Usually with insults aimed at the geek stereotype. After about a week of09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
 

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