Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to Cheat, Be More Aggressive, and Have Less Self Control

November 29, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

A new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that teenagers who play violent video games are more likely to cheat, experience increased aggression and have reduced self-control. The study comes from a team of researchers from the United States, Italy, and the Netherlands, who analyzed 172 Italian high school students between the ages of 13 and 19, who were "required" to take part in a series of experiments to determine how violent video games affected their personalities.

In one experiment participants were required to play either a non-violent video game (Pinball 3D or MiniGolf 3D), or a violent video game (Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas). While they were playing the games, a bowl containing 100g of chocolate was placed next to the computer. Researchers told the participants they could freely eat the chocolate, but warned them that it was unhealthy to consume high amounts of candy in a short space of time. Participants who played violent video games ate more than three times as much chocolate, compared with those who played the non-violent video games, according to researchers.

The teens were then asked to solve a ten item logic test. For each question they answered correctly, they were rewarded with one raffle ticket that they could exchange for prizes. The investigators told the participants how many questions they answered correctly and asked them to take the correct amount of raffle tickets from an envelope. Researchers knew how many tickets were in each envelope so they would know if any of the participants had taken more tickets than they had earned. Teenagers who played violent video games cheated more than eight times more, compared with those who played non-violent video games.

In another experiment, researchers monitored participants' aggression after they played the video game against an unseen "partner," who actually did not exist. The player who won could "blast" the losing player with a loud sound through headphones. Teenagers who played the violent video games blasted the unseen partners with louder and longer noises, compared with those who played the non-violent games, researchers said.

Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, offered the following statement on the results:

"We have consistently found in a number of studies that those who play violent games act more aggressively, and this is just more evidence."

Researchers also used a "Moral Disengagement Scale" as part of the study. This scale measures the extent to which people hold themselves to high moral standards in a variety of situations. The higher the participants scored, the more they were morally disengaged. The results revealed that of the participants who played the violent video games, those who scored higher on the Moral Disengagement Scale were more likely to act aggressively, cheat and eat more chocolate. Bushman claims that these finding helps to identify the teenagers who are most likely to be affected by violent video games:

"Very few teens were unaffected by violent video games, but this study helps us address the question of who is most likely to be affected. Those who are most morally disengaged are likely to be the ones who show less self-restraint after playing."

Both males and females were affected in a negative way by violent video games, according to researchers.

"But even girls were more likely to eat extra chocolate and to cheat and to act aggressively when they played Grand Theft Auto versus the mini golf or pinball game," Bushman adds. "They didn't reach the level of the boys in the study, but their behavior did change."

Of course, 99 percent of the research coming out of Ohio State under the control of Brad Bushman always concludes that video games are not good for children, so these results are not expected.

Source: Medical News Today


Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

So 13 year old boys who play Call of Duty, Halo, GTA, & League of Legends tend to be stark raving douchebags? Didn't see that one coming.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

I have to point out what I've seen with my boys (aged 15 and 13).  They do get more aggressive when they play video games together.  But, it is the same level of aggressiveness that they get when they play together period.  Be it football, tag, Nerf, Legos, etc. any thing not video game related.  I have also noticed that a good portion of the time when they play or work together they eventually end in a fight.  How quickly the fight happens seems to be directly proportional to how much fun they are having, i.e. more fun means the longer they go before the fight. 

With my boy's it is the competition that spikes the aggressiveness, not what is causing the competition.  Again be it playing video games, or football, or tag.  I personally also get mad when I loose a video game, but I also get mad when I loose a game of poker, or have a bad day of bowling.  (Both activates in real life)

To me what they need to focus on rather than "violent video games" is do you get the same results when you play a non-violent but very competitive game (say Madden or NBA 2K series), AND do you get the same results when they play football/basketball in real life?  What about paintball?

I think that there is a rise in aggressiveness when playing video games, BUT, it is no different than the rise of aggressiveness that would be present in any other competition.  I believe that these researchers are focusing on video games because they are the boogy man of the decade/century.  That they are afraid if they were to branch out the same studies to other forms of recreation, including physical exercise, that any of the research that thye find with video games would be blown out of the water, because the reactions are no different.

High Tech Redneck

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Is there a reason why these studies always use a REALLY terrible example of non-violent videogames? If this was a study about sports, one group would be MMA fighting, and the other would be playing paper football at a table by themselves.


Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Because a more controlled set of examples will not get them the results they want?

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Here's the thing: Research proves brain exercise makes you hungry even though you shouldn't. If the GTA game caused more heavy thinking, it would make you crave sugar and you'd eat more chocolate. And on a sugar rush after playing an adrenaline game, the results are tainted.

Also, have they even TRIED proving lasting effects? No? Then stfu.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Quality of games played directly proportional to appetite for chocolate.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Well, since the Sandy hook study didn't get them what they wanted.....

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Well, I can already see one massive flaw in their methodology. Both of the games they picked for violence are games where you basically play as a criminal. What makes them sure the violence of the games is what's leading those participants to cheat, rather than them having been immersed in the character and story of a criminal in a game where there's really no long term consequences for actions that would be illegal, immoral and irresponsible IRL?

I cite SPPS articles in the research I currently do, but after reading this tripe I'm honestly starting to doubt the quality of their peer review process.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Congratulations, you have discovered adrenaline.   I suspect that if they had used a non-violent but still action heavy game they would have gotten a similar result, esp when it comes to chocolate consumption.


Also... last I heard the airhorn test was not considered an acceptable metric for determining levels of aggression and researchers are not supposed to use it.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Or conversely, would the results be similar if a violet but not action-based game was used? XCOM: Enemy Unknown, for example.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

The science world has this thing called "variables". These are conditions in which change, adapt or are not consistent in some way.

These "studies" take the smallest number of people they can find and give no information on their background, then expect us to take them seriously? 172 people is not a "study", it's a goddamn social gathering.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Is it budgetary restrictions that force these studies to consistently use games that are nearly a decade old if not older?


Andrew Eisen

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Well a bigger issue is simply that the games are very different from each other on stuff other than just violent content.  The non-violent games are horribly simplistic.  There have been some articles out now warning researchers not to make exactly these types of problematic comparisons.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

While budgetary restrictions would be a part of it, the long tail of academic research is a huge factor in this sort of thing. It can often take years for article in a discipline like psychology to complete peer review, and it probably took a few months at least to write the article after the actual experiment was completed.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Also love a lot of the stuff they opted for: Small (well under 200) sample size, lack of data on if these people who 'cheated' on the exam thing only did so after playing violent games, the old game selection, and a dubious at best 'moral disengagement scale'. Also interesting that they opted for only 100g of chocolate, literally a lone candy bar (seriously, it's the size of one of the Cadbury chocolate bars). Maybe the subjects were a big hungrier than the others?

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

Of course, there is. If someone gives you $5,000 towards your study you buy $50 worth of games and pocket $4950. Fake the results and profit.

Re: Research: Teens Who Play Violent Games More Likely to ...

To be fair, research budgets are usually pretty anemic, and usually 60% or so goes strait to the university while much of the rest of it is used for other administrative elements (like a % of the grad student`s pay).  Actual cash to do the research with usually comes out pretty small.

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