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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Andrew EisenYes, the Wii U upscales but rendering in a higher resolution looks a hell of a lot better.08/01/2014 - 10:35pm
Andrew EisenIt's pretty. Lots of videos of it floating around. Just search "Xenoblade dolphin" and you'll find them.08/01/2014 - 10:32pm
ZippyDSMleeThe WII upscales tho. Matthew: It might be becue cartoonish desings do not age as fast as presudo realisim.08/01/2014 - 10:29pm
Matthew WilsonPeople who have run the Mario Galaxy games on a emulator have said they look better then most xb1/ps4 games when upscaled, so it would be interesting to see a upscaled version of Xenoblade08/01/2014 - 9:24pm
Andrew EisenHeck, it would probably sell better to newbies anyway. Even with its awesome art direction, the game looked dated when it came out years ago. I imagine an SD version would be a tougher sell.08/01/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenBecause it would be cool, would serve the game's fantastic art direction well and encourage people who've already played it to buy it again.08/01/2014 - 7:42pm
ZippyDSMleeWhy bother with an HD relese just repack the damn thing and promote it since it will play on the WIIU anyway....08/01/2014 - 7:04pm
Andrew EisenPlus, with Nintendo carrying the Wii U almost all by itself, it could help plug one of the unfortunately inevitable release schedule gaps.08/01/2014 - 3:23pm
Andrew EisenAn HD re-release would be cool though. It's a great game (and quite the looker, especially when up-rezzed) and more people should play it (the game had a limited release at a time when the Wii was all but dead an buried).08/01/2014 - 3:21pm
E. Zachary KnightSo no, people are not going to need to play the Wii game to undstand or enjoy the Wii U game.08/01/2014 - 1:27pm
E. Zachary KnightFrom what I understand, the two games have as much to do with eachother as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy 2.08/01/2014 - 1:26pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's my secret hope that Nintendo announces Xenoblade HD to be released in the leadup to Xenoblade Chronicles X, or at least a mass market version of the first game so that people aren't going into this one blind.08/01/2014 - 12:40pm
PHX CorpI'm going to do a test stream later today, if anyone is intrested07/31/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenYes, I'm such a big Nintendo dork that I read Nintendo's quarterly financial reports.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenCool tidbit - Mario Kart 8 sales account for more than half of total Wii U software sales for the last quarter even though it was only available for the last third.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenStill a pretty cool promotion. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in purchasing Mario Kart 8 and I already owned or didn't want any of the free games on offer.07/31/2014 - 1:43pm
Andrew EisenInteresting that EU had 10 games to choose from while North America only had four.07/31/2014 - 1:41pm
MaskedPixelanteIt certainly worked, I probably would never have bought Mario Kart 8 if it didn't come with a free copy of Wind Waker HD.07/31/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
 

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