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.

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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.

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ZippyDSMleehttp://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2014/04/15/riaa_files_civil_suit_against_megaupload04/16/2014 - 8:48am
ZippyDSMleeEither way you get stagnation as people can not afford the prices they set.04/16/2014 - 8:47am
Neenekowell, specifically it helps people already living there and hurts people who want to live there instead. As for 'way more hurt', majorities generally need less legal protection. yes it hurt more people then it helped, it was written for a minority04/16/2014 - 8:30am
MaskedPixelantehttp://torrentfreak.com/square-enix-drm-boosts-profits-and-its-here-to-stay-140415/ Square proves how incredibly out of touch they are by saying that DRM is the way of the future, and is here to stay.04/16/2014 - 8:29am
james_fudgeUnwinnable Weekly Telethon playing Metal Gear http://www.twitch.tv/rainydayletsplay04/16/2014 - 8:06am
ConsterTo be fair, there's so little left of the middle class that those numbers are skewing.04/16/2014 - 7:42am
Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoThough I am also not sure we can say NYC failed. Rent control helped the people it was intended for and is considered a failure by the people it was designed to protect them from.04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoIf they change the rules, demand will plummet. Though yeah, rent control probably would not help much in the SF case. I doubt anything will.04/15/2014 - 1:35pm
TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
Matthew Wilsonwhat are you saying SF should do rent control, that has never worked every time it has been tried. the issue here is a self inflicted supply problem imposed by stupid laws.04/15/2014 - 8:52am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, Government created price controls don't work though. They may keep prices down for the current inhabitants, but they are the primary cause of recently vacated residences having astronomical costs. Look at New York City as a prime example.04/15/2014 - 8:50am
NeenekoI think free markets are important, but believe in balance. Too much of any force and things get unstable.04/15/2014 - 7:25am
 

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