Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to Violence

February 15, 2011 -

According to researchers at Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada), violent video games do not desensitize players to violent imagery. The study was led by Holly Bowen (a PhD candidate in psychology) and co-authored by psychology professor Julia Spaniol. Researchers examined the impact of chronic exposure to violent video games on emotional memory and responses to negative stimuli.

"Emotional long-term memory helps us avoid negative situations," Bowen said. "This has significant implications for public health. For example, if you remember the negative experience of being involved in a bar fight, you will avoid future situations that may lead to an altercation."

The study involved 122 undergraduate students (male and female) who had some experience with video games in the last six months (45 participants) and those who had no prior video game "exposure" (77 students).

Male and female gamers claimed familiarity with Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy and NHL. Males also listed Call of Duty and Tekken among their top five favorite games, while female video game players preferred Mario Kart and Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

Participants were shown 150 images representing three different stimuli: negative, positive and neutral scenes. One hour later, the students viewed those same images again (along with a new set of 150 "distractor" images) in random order. As each image was displayed, participants had to respond whether or not they had seen it before. Finally, at the end of the experiment, the students completed a self-assessment test regarding their state of emotional arousal.

The researchers believed going into the study that game players would prove to be less sensitive to the negative images and therefore show reduced memory for these materials. The results showed no difference in the memory of video game players and non-players. Exposure to video games were not associated with differences in self-reported arousal to emotional stimuli.

"The findings indicate that long-term emotional memory is not affected by chronic exposure violent video games," said Bowen.

Researchers caution that further study is needed to see if these results apply to all age groups and not just young adults.

"While we are working with young adults, there may be still differences among kids who play VVGs [violent video games]," said Spaniol.

Researchers are already working on a new study that looks at the brain activity of violent video game players while they view emotional images. They also plan to examine what impact chronic exposure to violent video games has on players outside of a lab setting.


Comments

Re: Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to ...

Nice. I'd definitely be interested to see the same experiment run on a much younger age group.

Shame it's another study that will conveniently never be cited by anti-videogame lobbyists though.

Re: Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to ...

I will have to read this when I'm not at work! I was taught by Julia Spaniol during my time there.

Re: Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to ...

Just read it.  Nice well done study.

In reading the article the authors seem unaware of the controversies in the field though, assuming video game research is consistent other than their study (apparently they only read Anderson's work and believed him at face value).  Nonetheless they are honest in reporting their null results.

It's in Applied Cognitive Psychology (a Wiley journal) for those who wish to find it, in the "articles in press" section. 

Re: Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to ...

Apparently, although violent games do not desensitize players to violence, games do seem to have the effect of desensitizing writers to correct spelling.

The study was LED, not "lead"!

Jeez! Since when was English Language knocked off the curriculum for aspiring writers?

Sorry, but this sort of half-assed commitment to the writer's craft really pisses me off. A spell check doesn't catch everything - a writer has to have a working knowledge of the language, or he/she is going to make silly errors like this that make him/her look incompetent.

Re: Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to ...

Yeah.  "The study was led" part is a good example of why a writer should give a once over after they write something.


Re: Study: Violent Games Do Not Desensitize Players to ...

I'm glad that this study seems to be neutral on if there is connection with vg-violence and rl-violence, and results are still pleasant, unlike those that just sticks on their anti-videogame opinions.

-----------------------------------

Why cant' the United Nations have an international law that protects artists works from censorship and banning? Cause world is still filled with chickens.

- Jussi "ZangRap" Virtanen

-----------------------------------

Why cant' the United Nations have an international law that protects artist's works from censorship and banning? Cause world is still filled with chickens.

- Jussi "ZangRap" Virtanen

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Has a video game ever made you so mad you broke the controller?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MechaTama31to be done, and some people really need jobs.07/11/2014 - 5:41pm
MechaTama31Info, I think you don't really understand just how crappy a lot of the jobs are that provide the "basics" that you assume will just continue to be produced under such a system. There's very little pride or prestige to be had from such jobs, but they need07/11/2014 - 5:40pm
Andrew EisenMaskedPixelante - That's probably because it's now available on the Wii U eShop for $8.07/11/2014 - 5:18pm
InfophileThat's not how human psychology works. It's all about "Keeping up with the Joneses." When everyone around you has a new fancy smartphone and is talking about that cool HBO series, do you want to be the one left out?07/11/2014 - 4:05pm
Matthew WilsonThe issue is most people would settle for the basics and not work. That is why we would need very heavy automation to make a system like that work. Almost all labor intensive tasks would have to be done by robot.07/11/2014 - 2:32pm
InfophileOf course, that's a gross oversimplification. The idea, have a basic safety net that pays for what's needed to live. If people can find a job and are willing to work, they get more money which can be spent on comfort and perks.07/11/2014 - 11:33am
InfophileIt's quite possible to get an economy to work with a basic minimum standard of living. You just need perks for the people who do work. Everyone gets food and a home. Everyone who works also gets an iPhone.07/11/2014 - 11:32am
MaskedPixelanteIn the continuing adventures of "Stuff I figured would be overpriced on eBay but isn't", 15 bucks for a copy of Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga.07/11/2014 - 10:04am
SleakerI didn't gather the same conclusion.. Seems like they are focusing on devices & services still, just not calling it 'devices and services'07/11/2014 - 8:57am
PHX CorpMicrosoft CEO readies big shakeup, drops devices and services focus http://www.theverge.com/2014/7/10/5887143/satya-nadella-microsoft-ceo-employee-email07/11/2014 - 8:45am
MechaTama31declared that everybody should have them. Somebody still has to produce them.07/11/2014 - 7:44am
MechaTama31I do mean the developers/governmet. And money is not the only thing of value. I am including the food, housing, etc that everybody is supposed to get for free under this system. In the real world, those things don't exist merely because an authority has07/11/2014 - 7:43am
InfophileAs automation gets better and better, the number of jobs absolutely required keeps diminishing. How many people these days do you think are actually needed to keep everyone alive? Most people just make our lives more convenient and entertaining.07/11/2014 - 4:43am
Matthew Wilsonthat kind of system only works when most people (around 70 to 80 percent ) do not need to work.07/11/2014 - 1:21am
TechnogeekConjured up by who, though? If by the players, then it's not really "on a whim" since they're kind of putting work into it. If you mean the developers/government, then hello and welcome to monetary sovereignty.07/11/2014 - 12:34am
MechaTama31I'm just saying, when everything of value can be conjured up at a whim, that's not an economy. That's a fantasy.07/11/2014 - 12:15am
TechnogeekHonestly, though, what I find most thought-provoking about the article isn't the guaranteed minimum income aspect at all, but a more fundamental point: that we treat poverty as a moral failing on the individual, rather than a design flaw in the system.07/10/2014 - 11:53pm
TechnogeekOr, if your concern is that people won't even bother to work at all if their basic needs are met...well, let me put it this way: do you really want people like that in the workforce anyway?07/10/2014 - 11:51pm
TechnogeekAlso, you raise a valid question, but I'd argue that as things stand we're artificially limiting the amount of "gold/silver" that could be produced. The whole "work a job you hate to pay the bills" thing meshes poorly with the entreprenurial spirit.07/10/2014 - 11:49pm
TechnogeekSeriously, though, it looks at how in-game economies work and what lessons can be applied to reality, focusing primarily on multiple currency systems. Such systems do exist in real life (food stamps, for example), although generally aren't seen as such.07/10/2014 - 11:43pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician