Research: Competitive Games Cause More Aggression Than Violent Games

August 29, 2011 -

Some early research from Brock University in Canada seems to indicate that playing highly competitive video games may lead to aggressive behavior faster than playing games with more violent content. Competitiveness, says a new study published by the American Psychological Association, may be "the main video game characteristic" that influences or causes aggression.

In a series of experiments lead by Paul J.C. Adachi, M.A., a PhD candidate at Brock University in Canada, video games were matched on "competitiveness, difficulty, and pace of action." Researchers found that video game violence did not elevate aggressive behavior on its own. The more competitive games produced "greater levels of aggressive behavior" than less competitive games, no matter how much violent content was found in the games.

In one of the experiments, Adachi selected 42 college students (25 men and 17 women) to play one of two video games, Conan or Fuel, for 12 minutes. Both games were even when it came to competitiveness, difficulty and pace of action, but differed in levels of violence. After participants finished playing the game, they were then told they were going to take part in a separate food tasting study. Participants had to make up a cup of hot sauce for a "taster" who they were told did not particularly like hot or spicy food. The participants could choose from one of four different hot sauces (from least hot to most hot) for the taster to drink. The authors found that there was no significant difference in the intensity and amount of the hot sauces prepared by the participants who played "Conan" and those who played "Fuel." The authors concluded that video game violence alone was not sufficient to elevate aggressive behavior.

In the second experiment, Adachi had 60 college students (32 men and 28 women) play one of four video games: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, Left 4 Dead 2, Marble Blast Ultra, and Fuel. Afterward, the students completed the same hot sauce test from the first study. Electrocardiograms measured the participants' heart rates before and during video game play. On average, students who played the "highly competitive games" - Fuel and Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe - concocted what researchers called "significantly more of a hotter sauce" than participants who played Marble Blast Ultra and Left 4 Dead 2. They also had significantly higher heart rates.

"These findings suggest that the level of competitiveness in video games is an important factor in the relation between video games and aggressive behavior, with highly competitive games leading to greater elevations in aggression than less competitive games," wrote Adachi.

The full text of the study, "The Effect of Video Game Competition and Violence on Aggressive Behavior: Which Characteristic Has the Greatest Influence?," can be found here here (PDF).


Comments

Re: Research: Competitive Games Cause More Aggression Than ...

Football is a real life competitive sport and I have yet to see any videogame perpetuate aggression as much as it does.  Whether it be aggression against others and/or aggression in retaliation.

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Research: Competitive Games Cause More Aggression Than ...

Thats because you never actually paid attention to the players.They have a reputation for being bullies for a reason.

Re: Research: Competitive Games Cause More Aggression Than ...

See, THESE studies sound fascinating. The games/violence to aggression studies always seem a little biased in their approach, but this one seems to be trying to separate the myth and reality rather objectively. Time will tell, but these results make sense to me up front.

With that in mind, I'd LOVE to see this done more comprehensively. Larger sample of people from different backgrounds (economic backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, gamers and non gamers), across a wider selection of games in tightly controlled conditions.

For example; I'd like to see how something like, say, Minecraft measures when played on Peaceful, on Normal, and online in a moderated server and an unmoderated one. And I'd like them to measure more than just aggression, but try to see what other traits might be invoked by gaming and content under different circumstances.

Ultimately, if enough data could be collected, we might be able to use this to create a predictive model -- get a better sense of what kinds of play, mechanics and flavor produce which kinds of behavior and promote which kinds of growth and development. It might even have a drastic, OBJECTIVE impact on things like the ESRB -- ratings could be altered based on the known responses made by specific constructions of games.

Obviously, this sort of understanding is years away at best, and requires a few large, expensive studies to produce, but I think there's some fascinating information there that could be very useful in many applications.

Re: Research: Competitive Games Cause More Aggression Than ...

I agree. The study is well thought out with few assumptions not supported by the results. It still has a long way to go though, and I hope this student continues this line of research when they get their PHD.

 

I have a suggestion for the next one, comparing L4D ragers to the blue shell effect. I guarantee having your win taken away on the last lap will result in much more aggressive behavior than just having a team member run off the roof as the tank.

-Austin from Oregon

Feel free to check out my blog.

Re: Research: Competitive Games Cause More Aggression Than ...

If they were playing MKvDCU and going against Superman, then yeah- they're going to be super-pissed when he does his game-hacking breathing move. :P

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Wonderkarpits unattractive, andrew01/27/2015 - 3:46pm
Andrew EisenFant4stic. Ugh, they're doing the "replace a letter with a number" thing. I hate that. Does anyone think that's cool or attractive? Anyone at all?01/27/2015 - 1:56pm
IvresseEh, trailer's still better than all the Fantastic Four movies combined, tbh...01/27/2015 - 12:45pm
Matthew WilsonIt will never happen, but I wish fox would sell the rights back to disney.01/27/2015 - 11:05am
E. Zachary KnightWell, they went with whimsical and carefree for the first two and they bombed, so now they have swung the pendulum all the way in the other direction hoping it works.01/27/2015 - 11:01am
Andrew EisenIt's like Fox is trying to scare us off.01/27/2015 - 10:57am
Andrew EisenMaybe I'm just a curmudgeon but this is so amazingly the wrong tone for the Fantastic Four. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-BVs-KCSiA01/27/2015 - 10:53am
ConsterSince the ads are in the USA, you're technically correct. Personally, though, I feel the same way as you but in the opposite order: while the ads were legal and the defacing isn't, I really appreciate the sentiment.01/27/2015 - 8:21am
MechaTama31I appreciate the sentiment of the Ms Marvel thing, but defacing *is* still defacing, and free speech is a license to spread hate, if that's really what you want to do with it.01/27/2015 - 7:42am
ConsterAm I the only one imagining the Deep Silver spokesperson making scare quotes Dr Evil style while saying 'incorrectly classified'?01/27/2015 - 7:22am
Michael Chandrahttp://www.telecompaper.com/news/kpn-vodafone-fined-for-net-neutrality-violations--106167501/27/2015 - 5:10am
Michael ChandraThe other for allowing people to watch HBO through an app without being charged for the data-traffic, which was steering customers in their internet behaviour. Both of them against the Net Neutrality Law. 01/27/2015 - 5:10am
Michael ChandraYay, two dutch telephone companies got fined. :) One for blocking selective traffic at their free wifi-hotspots (internetcalling amongst others, prolly Skype and such).01/27/2015 - 5:09am
Andrew EisenHow many people do you think will return their copy for a censored version of the game? My money is on zero.01/27/2015 - 12:47am
Goth_Skunk@Cheater: If I were an Australian consumer, there's no way I'd be returning it.01/26/2015 - 10:43pm
Cheater87Ooops http://stevivor.com/2015/01/ps4-copies-saints-row-iv-re-elected-undergoing-product-recall-australia/01/26/2015 - 10:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, well I've passed the request along.01/26/2015 - 9:03pm
ZippyDSMleeI loath itunes..........01/26/2015 - 9:02pm
Goth_SkunkUNLESS you haven't downloaded the most 3 recent episodes. Then it cancels your subscription automatically.01/26/2015 - 8:56pm
Goth_Skunk@AE: No. iTunes instead just downloads it automatically, provided you've set it up to do so in your preferences.01/26/2015 - 8:56pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician