A new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that teenagers who play violent video games are more likely to cheat, experience increased aggression and have reduced self-control. The study comes from a team of researchers from the United States, Italy, and the Netherlands, who analyzed 172 Italian high school students between the ages of 13 and 19, who were "required" to take part in a series of experiments to determine how violent video games affected their personalities.
In one experiment participants were required to play either a non-violent video game (Pinball 3D or MiniGolf 3D), or a violent video game (Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas). While they were playing the games, a bowl containing 100g of chocolate was placed next to the computer. Researchers told the participants they could freely eat the chocolate, but warned them that it was unhealthy to consume high amounts of candy in a short space of time. Participants who played violent video games ate more than three times as much chocolate, compared with those who played the non-violent video games, according to researchers.
The teens were then asked to solve a ten item logic test. For each question they answered correctly, they were rewarded with one raffle ticket that they could exchange for prizes. The investigators told the participants how many questions they answered correctly and asked them to take the correct amount of raffle tickets from an envelope. Researchers knew how many tickets were in each envelope so they would know if any of the participants had taken more tickets than they had earned. Teenagers who played violent video games cheated more than eight times more, compared with those who played non-violent video games.
In another experiment, researchers monitored participants' aggression after they played the video game against an unseen "partner," who actually did not exist. The player who won could "blast" the losing player with a loud sound through headphones. Teenagers who played the violent video games blasted the unseen partners with louder and longer noises, compared with those who played the non-violent games, researchers said.
Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, offered the following statement on the results:
"We have consistently found in a number of studies that those who play violent games act more aggressively, and this is just more evidence."
Researchers also used a "Moral Disengagement Scale" as part of the study. This scale measures the extent to which people hold themselves to high moral standards in a variety of situations. The higher the participants scored, the more they were morally disengaged. The results revealed that of the participants who played the violent video games, those who scored higher on the Moral Disengagement Scale were more likely to act aggressively, cheat and eat more chocolate. Bushman claims that these finding helps to identify the teenagers who are most likely to be affected by violent video games:
"Very few teens were unaffected by violent video games, but this study helps us address the question of who is most likely to be affected. Those who are most morally disengaged are likely to be the ones who show less self-restraint after playing."
Both males and females were affected in a negative way by violent video games, according to researchers.
"But even girls were more likely to eat extra chocolate and to cheat and to act aggressively when they played Grand Theft Auto versus the mini golf or pinball game," Bushman adds. "They didn't reach the level of the boys in the study, but their behavior did change."
Of course, 99 percent of the research coming out of Ohio State under the control of Brad Bushman always concludes that video games are not good for children, so these results are not expected.
Source: Medical News Today