Daily dose of violent video games has no long-term effect on adult aggression: study

March 14, 2018, Springer
Credit: Cristie Guevara/public domain

Playing violent action adventure games for prolonged periods does not make adults more aggressive say researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany. A new study led by Simone Kühn looked at the influence long-term violent video game play has on aggression levels, and compared this with playing a life simulation game or not playing a video game at all. The research is published in the Springer Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Previous experimental studies have shown that a few minutes' worth of violent video game play can influence a person's levels of aggression and willingness to help others. There is however reason to believe that these effects were mostly the results of exposure to specific stimuli and subsequent priming that formed part of these studies.

The current research breaks new ground because it is the first study to investigate the effects of long-term violent video game play.

Seventy-seven participants were divided into three groups. The first group of 25 played the violent video game Grand Theft Auto V daily for two months. The second group of 24 played the simulation The Sims 3 every day for two months, while the final group of 28 did not play any video games for two months.

Before and after the two-month period, Kühn and her team noted the participants' level of aggression and empathy, interpersonal competencies, impulsivity, anxiety, mood, and executive control. These characteristics were all determined using a battery of tests consisting of questionnaires and computerized behavioral assessments.

The researchers found no significant changes in any of the variables assessed, particularly not in the aggression levels over time in any of the three groups. Only three of the 208 statistical tests performed showed any significant changes that could allude to more , and these are explained through coincidence.

Two months after the participants stopped playing daily video games, there was still no difference in their aggression levels. This was also true for their measures of empathy, interpersonal competencies, impulsivity, anxiety, mood, and executive control.

"We did not find relevant negative effects in response to violent ," explained Kühn. "The fact that we assessed multiple domains, not finding an effect in any of them, makes the present study the most comprehensive in the field."

The results provide strong evidence against the frequently debated negative effects of playing violent video games in adults. Kühn hopes it will provide a more realistic scientific perspective on the effects of violent gaming in real life, and that similar studies will be done using children as participants.

"The American Psychological Association recently summarized the previous findings on as indicating that they pose a risk factor for adverse outcomes, including increased and decreased empathy. The present findings of this study clearly contradict this conclusion," added Kühn.

Explore further: Violent video games found not to affect empathy

More information: Simone Kühn et al, Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study, Molecular Psychiatry (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41380-018-0031-7

Related Stories

Violent video games found not to affect empathy

March 8, 2017
The link between playing violent video games and antisocial behavior, such as increased aggression and decreased empathy, is hotly debated. Researchers in Germany used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on long-term ...

Are violent video games associated with more civic behaviors among youth?

August 11, 2016
Whether violent video games influence the behavior of youth has been a debate that has split the academic community for years. Scholars and clinicians remain divided in opinion about whether violent games are harmful. In ...

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

Violent video games not linked to aggression in adults with autism

April 14, 2015
Following the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, some in the media and the public speculated a link existed between autism spectrum disorder and violence and, in particular, that violent video games may cause gamers with ...

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

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining

December 18, 2018
In recent years, public health officials have warned about a rising epidemic of loneliness, with rates of loneliness reportedly doubling over the past 50 years. In a new study, researchers at University of California San ...

Junk food diet raises depression risk, researchers find

December 18, 2018
A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Looking on bright side may reduce anxiety, especially when money is tight

December 17, 2018
Trying to find something good in a bad situation appears to be particularly effective in reducing anxiety the less money a person makes, possibly because people with low incomes have less control over their environment, according ...

Levels of gene-expression-regulating enzyme altered in brains of people with schizophrenia

December 14, 2018
A study using a PET scan tracer developed at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has identified, for the first time, epigenetic differences between the brains of individuals ...

Self-perception and reality seem to line-up when it comes to judging our own personality

December 14, 2018
When it comes to self-assessment, new U of T research suggests that maybe we do have a pretty good handle on our own personalities after all.

Video game players frequently exposed to graphic content may see world differently

December 13, 2018
People who frequently play violent video games are more immune to disturbing images than non-players, a UNSW-led study into the phenomenon of emotion-induced blindness has shown.

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.