Research: Relaxing Games Increase Prosocial Behavior

January 31, 2014 - Andrew Eisen

We've got another Brad Bushman special for you today, kids!

Now, admittedly, this study was published back in 2011 but I don't believe we covered it so it's all good.

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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.

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Dueling Editorials: Researchers Christopher J. Ferguson and Dr. Brad Bushman go Head-to-Head on CNN

September 20, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

Christopher J. Ferguson, chair of the psychology department at Stetson University goes head-to-head with Dr. Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University in two different editorials on CNN.com.

Brad Bushman Research: Frustration Leads to Violent Video Game Choices

March 11, 2013 -

A new study from Brad Bushman of Ohio State University comes to the conclusion that some players of violent video games are led there out of a sense of frustration because they cannot engage in taboo behaviors in the real world such as stealing or cheating. Don't worry, the latest Bushman study will connect this to aggression, violent video games, and a negative effect of some kind... The temptation to steal or cheat is sometimes great — especially when the risk of being caught is low.

"Violent Games Lead to Rape" Doc Cites Sources

February 15, 2011 -

This Valentine’s Day, a girl gave me something I honestly wasn’t expecting.  Granted, she also gave it to everyone else in her address book but hey, I’m not jealous.

Yes, yesterday, Carole Lieberman finally provided the blogosphere with “examples of research linking video games to real life violence (including rape).”  Do the various studies, papers, and opinion pieces she provided actually back up her claims?  I’ll leave that to you.

-American Psychological Association’s Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media

-How Fantasy Becomes Reality (Karen Dill)

-Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (1986)

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Researcher: Puzzle Test Not a Valid Measure of Aggressive or Helpful Behavior

June 19, 2009 -

On Wednesday GamePolitics reported on a study which linked players of violent games with aggressive behavior while claiming that those who played games with prosocial themes were more likely to be helpful. Prof. Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan and Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State were among the study's more recognizable authors.

Yesterday we reported on Texas A&M Prof. Chris Ferguson's reaction to the Bushman-Gentile study. Ferguson slammed the research methodology involved, including a somewhat academic foray into concepts like multicollinearity, which made our brain hurt just a bit.

So, in the interest of keeping things simple, we went back to Ferguson with a follow-up question concerning the methodology used in one portion of the Bushman-Gentile research. 161 U.S. college students served as test subjects:

After playing either a prosocial, violent, or neutral game, participants were asked to assign puzzles to a randomly selected partner. They could choose from puzzles that were easy, medium or hard to complete. Their partner could win $10 if they solved all the puzzles. Those who played a prosocial game were considerably more helpful than others, assigning more easy puzzles to their partners.  And those who had played violent games were significantly more likely to assign the hardest puzzles.

Given the uniqueness of the methodology, GamePolitics asked Ferguson whether, in his opinion, the "puzzle test" was a valid measure of aggression or a reasonable predictor of violent behavior. Ferguson quickly said that it was not:

No, not even remotely.  It is worlds apart from any real world aggressive or helping behavior on many levels.  Unfortunately this is a typical ad hoc outcome with no validity.

9 comments

Researcher Disputes Study Equating Violent Games w/Aggression & Prosocial Games w/Helpfulness

June 18, 2009 -

Yesterday GamePolitics reported on a study detailed in the current issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin which found that violent game players displayed aggressive behavior while those who player more prosocial games exhibited helpful behavior. The study actually encompasses three seperate research projects which took place in Japan, Singapore and the United States.

But a researcher from Texas A&M disputes those findings. Prof. Chris Ferguson, who has frequently studied video game issues, commented on yesterday's report which was authored by, among others, University of Michigan's Brad Bushman and Douglas Gentile of Iowa State.

Of the Bushman-Gentile study Ferguson told GamePolitics:

You know trouble is brewing right in the beginning as they start with the false premise that there is an established relationship between video games and aggression. The authors engage in what's called citation bias, which means they only cover research they like and ignore anything they don't like. This is just not good science. Since this literature review is so slanted, that worries me about how they collected and analyzed their data.  

In [one study] they note that there is a high correlation between prosocial exposure and violent game exposure. This suggests that these may be some of the same games that have both kinds of content! They then suggest that there wasn't a problem with multicollinearity (basically means if you include 2 predictors that are too similar it can screw up your results), yet they only say they had no VIF less than 10...yet even something as low as 4 or 5 is pretty high. So multicollinearity may have been a bigger problem than the authors try to suggest.  Therefore, there may be some serious problems with their analyses here.  

[Also] the authors say that prosocial exposure and violence exposure were very highly correlated and then claim they have completely opposite effects. That is just highly unlikely.

In [another study] the standardized coefficient between playing prosocial games and prosocial behavior... suggests that playing prosocial games had almost no overlap with prosocial behavior one year later. Here we have yet another example of a "significant" finding being touted even though it's so small you'd never notice it in the real world. They also assert causality from correlational data which they can't do no matter how they analyze it.

The final study is probably the best of the three, but it's also the most artificial. Indeed, a fair number of their participants express suspicion about what went on. These kinds of studies have a high risk of "demand characteristics" In other words, students will give you the results they think you want and they won't admit to it afterward. Also the resultant effect sizes are all pretty small.

So, at best, a mountain is being made out of a molehill here, and at worst there are some pretty serious flaws in all analyses. I do worry about the "tone" from this research group. They do not comprehensively cover the literature honestly, and appear to have a hypothesis that they favor from the get-go. That tone would lead me to question their objectivity and, as such, the quality of their analyses.

Bottom line  - I doubt you'd see prosocial games solve the world's ills anymore than violent games have caused any outbreak of youth violence. 

28 comments

Research: Violent Games Correlate with Hurting Others, Prosocial Games Correlate with Helping

June 17, 2009 -

A report published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin maintains that playing pro-social games increases helping behavior by participants while playing violent games increases hurtful behavior.

GamePolitics has previously reported on the research, which combines the results from three separate studies conducted in the U.S., Japan and Singapore. But a press release issued today by the University of Michigan offers new insight about the methodologies used by the researchers involved. These include UM's own Brad Bushman (left) and Roland Huesmann as well as Douglas Gentile of Iowa State. Said Bushman:

These studies show the same kind of impact on three different age groups from three very different cultures. In addition, the studies use different analytic approaches---correlational, longitudinal and experimental. The resulting triangulation of evidence provides the strongest possible proof that the findings are both valid and generalizable...

 

[The research] suggests there is an upward spiral of prosocial gaming and helpful behavior, in contrast to the downward spiral that occurs with violent video gaming and aggressive behavior...

 

Taken together, these findings make it clear that playing video games is not in itself good or bad for children. The type of content in the game has a bigger impact than the overall amount of time spent playing.

Perhaps the most interesting experiment involved 161 U.S. college students. From the press release: 

After playing either a prosocial, violent, or neutral game, participants were asked to assign puzzles to a randomly selected partner. They could choose from puzzles that were easy, medium or hard to complete. Their partner could win $10 if they solved all the puzzles. Those who played a prosocial game were considerably more helpful than others, assigning more easy puzzles to their partners.  And those who had played violent games were significantly more likely to assign the hardest puzzles.

Bushman discusses the study in this brief video.

VG Researcher has additional info...

UPDATE: Here is the UM press release.

48 comments

Forbidden Fruit Theory 101: Game Content Warnings Make Kids Want to Play

March 2, 2009 -

Content warning labels placed on video games actually increase children's desire to play, according to a new study published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune:

Researchers tested 310 Dutch children ranging in age from 7 to 17. Participants read fictitious game descriptions and rated how much or how little they wanted to play each game. In every group, the more objectionable the content, the more kids clamored for the controller—"forbidden fruit," the researchers called the games...

 

Authors, Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan and Elly Konijn of VU University Amsterdam... suggest that youth should not be allowed to buy their own games, that parents and physicians be aware of risk factors... and that policy-makers rethink the classifications...

Interestingly, the study began with the hypothesis that mature content ratings issued by the Pan-European Game Information system (PEGI) enticed younger players. With regard to PEGI the authors conclude:

Although [PEGI] was developed to protect youth from objectionable content, this system actually makes such games forbidden fruits. Pediatricians should be aware of this forbidden-fruit effect, because video games with objectionable content can have harmful effects on children and adolescents.

As GamePolitics readers know, PEGI, which enjoys video game industry support, is locked in a bitter struggle with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for ratings dominance in the U.K.

31 comments

Study: Violent Games Make Players "Comfortably Numb" to Suffering of Others

February 19, 2009 -

Call it the "Pink Floyd Effect."

A just-released research report claims that playing violent video games makes players "comfortably numb" to the pain and suffering of others.

The study, conducted by University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman and Iowa State University professor Craig Anderson, appears in the March 2009 issue of Psychological Science.

Both Bushman and Anderson have previously published research with negative findings about violent games. A press release describes the research methodology employed in the new report:

320 college students played either a violent or a nonviolent video game for approximately 20 minutes.  A few minutes later, they overheard a staged fight that ended with the "victim" sustaining a sprained ankle and groaning in pain.

 

People who had played a violent game took significantly longer to help the victim than those who played a nonviolent game---73 seconds compared to 16 seconds. People who had played a violent game were also less likely to notice and report the fight. And if they did report it, they judged it to be less serious than did those who had played a nonviolent game.
 
In the second study, the participants were 162 adult moviegoers. The researchers staged a minor emergency outside the theater... The researchers timed how long it took moviegoers to [help]... Participants who had just watched a violent movie took over 26 percent longer to help than either people going into the theater or people who had just watched a nonviolent movie.

Prof. Bushman (left) commented:

These studies clearly show that violent media exposure can reduce helping behavior. People exposed to media violence are less helpful to others in need because they are 'comfortably numb' to the pain and suffering of others, to borrow the title of a Pink Floyd song.

118 comments

 
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Matthew WilsonTrust me i read the same sites.I have a Master's in Applied Politics. I get to see through the spin both Left and Right that tend to be put on news stories.09/30/2014 - 1:02am
WymorenceI also have an extremely hard time in listening to people who froth at the mouth when the POTUS does something almost identical to the previous POTUS, but for some reason is subhuman for it this time around09/30/2014 - 12:43am
WymorenceThe problem is that opposing views are a good thing, but sites like Brietbart and their ilk are the exact opposite. 9/10 times they tweak the news to benefit their own views instead of just giving their own side of it.09/30/2014 - 12:41am
james_fudgeIf I were in a cult I might try and shut myself away from opposing views...09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
james_fudgeoh and Nate Silver and Politico too.09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
james_fudgeI read a lot of sites every day, Drudge, Breitbart, Huffpo, DailKOS, Red State, Fox, MSNBC, CNN and i'm not infected. Time for people to get thicker skins.09/29/2014 - 11:46pm
james_fudgeNeo_DrKefka: you do know you visited "one of those sites" when you posted that article, right?09/29/2014 - 11:44pm
E. Zachary KnightOcarina of Time done up in the Link to the Past engine? You know I would buy this day one if it were official. http://kotaku.com/fans-are-remaking-ocarina-of-time-in-2d-164059481909/29/2014 - 11:14pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://twitter.com/raymond03155046/status/516735796754522113 "We're fundraising for the group who helped our pets out in their time of need." "lol ur just doing this for the money get over your cat."09/29/2014 - 9:26pm
MechaTama31https://www.humblebundle.com/store/p/dontmove_storefront <-- This looks like it might be the most incredible dollar I'll ever spend.09/29/2014 - 9:12pm
Matthew WilsonI agree. the same for MSNBC as well. both of them can go away, but like it or not its a free market and fox news make allot of money sadly.09/29/2014 - 7:46pm
quiknkoldI'm an independent voter. Vote Blue and Red. so I dont really visit any specific news sites(Though I know FoxNews can take a flying leap off a bridge)09/29/2014 - 7:02pm
quiknkoldFactcheck.org. there you go. neither left or right. straight down the center.09/29/2014 - 7:01pm
Craig R.When a website's tinfoil isn't enough, add your own!09/29/2014 - 6:32pm
Andrew EisenWe used to have a reader who constantly posted DailyKOS articles in the Shout box. I was amazed, not so much by the amazing and horrifically disingenuous spin the site put on these articles, but that our reader would add his own spin on top of it!09/29/2014 - 6:05pm
E. Zachary KnightYou do realize that DailyKOS is the Brietbart of the left wing agenda, right?09/29/2014 - 6:01pm
quiknkoldproblem with Breibart is, despite I totally agreeing with Nero's articles.....its freaking Breibart. Its not the best place int he world when it comes to trust. if DailyKos or think progress reported it....well...things would be better. but here we are.09/29/2014 - 6:00pm
Neo_DrKefkaAt this point I need to stop visiting certain sites. At least now I have a list of people and where they work where I need to avoid http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/21/GameJournoPros-we-reveal-every-journalist-on-the-list09/29/2014 - 5:56pm
E. Zachary KnightNeo, Where in any published accounts of the games journo pro mailing list do they call anyone "misogynists, racist, sexist and that we are horrible people"?09/29/2014 - 5:47pm
quiknkoldmy take is, try to write a nice long piece on it, post it somewhere, and then link it. something well written, siting sources.09/29/2014 - 5:42pm
 

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