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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ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen: Going to skip on how they like to bend the truth aren't you? I just might one take you up on finding each instance one day… whenever I have energy…and a brain. LOL02/27/2015 - 4:30pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, Are you accusing Anita of simply complaining about games in order to make money rather than to actually improve the representation of women in games?02/27/2015 - 4:28pm
Andrew EisenIn the sense that they're both people who talk about things they're passionate about, sure.02/27/2015 - 4:24pm
Andrew EisenThe reasoning for criticism on how female characters are generally portrayed in video games is the same as any other criticism: generally, this is not being done as well as it could.02/27/2015 - 4:23pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:... so you see absolutely no similarity’s in between Rush and Sarkeesian?02/27/2015 - 4:22pm
Andrew EisenI'm familiar with both Limbaugh and talk radio. What the hell does that have to do with anything?02/27/2015 - 4:19pm
ZippyDSMleeWhat is the reasoning for the criticisms against how fictional characters are portrayed?02/27/2015 - 4:13pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen: Reply to what industries. “The I can make money by A milking a niche base and or B saying crazy things industry.“ You’ve never listened to talk radio or heard of Rush Limbaugh have you?02/27/2015 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenWhat the hell are you talking about?02/27/2015 - 4:05pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen: The I can make money by A milking a niche base and or B saying crazy things industry. Then what is the reasoning for the criticisms?02/27/2015 - 4:04pm
Andrew EisenAgain, nothing you say makes a lick of sense.02/27/2015 - 3:54pm
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Andrew EisenIndustries build around what? No one is confusing fiction and reality. No one is claiming fictional characters have feelings or rights or are they themselves speaking against their own objectification.02/27/2015 - 3:52pm
ZippyDSMleeresponsibility kick in to not treat others poorly and have enough self-worth to not be discouraged by the smallest of things?02/27/2015 - 3:42pm
ZippyDSMleeOne could stretch things pretty far and claim that mindsets shaped by fiction shape the real world treatment of real people but my question is which came first the chicken(mistreatment) or the egg(fiction) and where and when dose individual personal respo02/27/2015 - 3:42pm
ZippyDSMleeFrankly it looks more like people are getting fiction and reality confused, fictional characters have no feelings or rights thus to claim they can be objectified and treated poorly make for a somewhat disingenuous argument.02/27/2015 - 3:42pm
ZippyDSMleeIf there were not industries built around it I could agree but the same format that any political talking head uses or Jack Thompson used also supports less excessive critics…02/27/2015 - 3:41pm
Andrew EisenSo once again, nothing you say makes a lick of sense.02/27/2015 - 3:24pm
Andrew EisenCritics who offer suggestions on how their issues might be addressed are not bullies and no one is attempting to police anything let alone anyone's morals.02/27/2015 - 3:24pm
ZippyDSMleeof bad press will keep others in line.02/27/2015 - 3:20pm
 

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