Violent video games don't always reduce subsequent helpfulness

July 3, 2013

Violent or antisocial video games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto do not reliably reduce helpful behaviors in players shortly after playing, according to research published July 3 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Morgan Tear and Mark Nielsen from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Participants in the research played one of four video games for 20 minutes. At the end of the test, a researcher pretended to drop some pens and assessed how many players helped pick them up. Regardless of the game played, only about 40-60% of participants helped pick up pens at the end of the study. In a second test, they found that participants were more likely to exhibit the helpful behavior when pens were dropped half-way through the experiment rather than at the end of the exercise. 75% of people helped pick up pens if they were dropped during the task, compared to only 31% who helped if the pen-drop exercise occurred at the end of the experiment. Again, the type of video game did not influence the number of participants that helped pick up pens.

Based on these results, the authors suggest that contextual differences in the design of this experiment could change the baseline rates of observed, but they did not find a correlation between violent or anti-social video and helpful behavior. The paper concludes, "We fail to substantiate conjecture that playing contemporary will lead to diminished prosocial behavior."

Tear adds, "Historically, failures to replicate in the field violent video game research have struggled for exposure. These studies highlight not only that intuitions about violent video games don't hold, but also that using the exact same procedures of past research doesn't reveal the same results."

Explore further: Violent video games turning gamers into deadly shooters

More information: Tear MJ, Nielsen M (2013) Failure to Demonstrate That Playing Violent Video Games Diminishes Prosocial Behavior. PLOS ONE 8(7): e68382. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068382

Related Stories

Violent video games turning gamers into deadly shooters

May 21, 2012
Playing violent shooting video games can improve firing accuracy and influence players to aim for the head when using a real gun finds a new study in Communication Research.

Human-like opponents lead to more aggression in video game players, study finds

May 20, 2013
Video games that pit players against human-looking characters may be more likely to provoke violent thoughts and words than games where monstrous creatures are the enemy, according to a new study by researchers at the University ...

Violent video games have lower effects on highly-exposed teens

May 3, 2013
Teenagers who are highly exposed to violent video games—three or more hours per day—show blunted physical and psychological responses to playing a violent game, reports a study in the May issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: ...

Violent video games reduce brain response to violence and increase aggressive behavior

May 25, 2011
Scientists have known for years that playing violent video games causes players to become more aggressive. The findings of a new University of Missouri (MU) study provide one explanation for why this occurs: the brains of ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.