Research Finds Negative Effects in Violent Videogames

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Research Finds Negative Effects in Violent Videogames

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A new study claims to provide "the first experimental evidence" that violent videogames have a cumulative, long-term impact on those who play them.

A research team led by Professor Brad Bushman of the Ohio State University has found that people who played a violent videogame for three consecutive days exhibited "increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations" every day that they played.

"It's important to know the long-term causal effects of violent videogames, because so many young people regularly play these games," Bushman explained. "Playing videogames could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won't cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent videogames may have a cumulative effect on aggression."

The research looked at 70 French university students who were told they were participating in a study on the effects of videogame brightness. The students were assigned to play either violent games - Call of Duty 4, Condemned 2 and The Club - or non-violent ones - S3K Superbike, Dirt 2 and Pure - once per day, for 20 minutes at a time. At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.

In another test, those who played violent games subjected hidden opponents in a multiplayer game (who didn't actually exist) to increasingly longer and louder blasts of unpleasant noise each time they "won," while those who played non-violent games maintained their victory noise at a relatively constant level and duration throughout the period of the study.

"Hostile expectations are probably not the only reason that players of violent games are more aggressive, but our study suggests it is certainly one important factor," Bushman explained. "After playing a violent videogame, we found that people expect others to behave aggressively. That expectation may make them more defensive and more likely to respond with aggression themselves, as we saw in this study and in other studies we have conducted."

It's impossible to determine just how much aggression may build up in people who play violent games, he added, because it isn't "practical or ethical" to test them for longer periods of time. "I would expect that the increase in aggression would accumulate for more than three days. It may eventually level off," he said. "However, there is no theoretical reason to think that aggression would decrease over time, as long as players are still playing the violent games."

Source: Ohio State University

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So all those screaming kids on XBOX live can be 'cured' by playing Animal Crossing or Mario for a couple weeks?
Welp, looks like every mum who sees this study is getting a WiiU in the near-future.

Seems like pretty valid research. I guess the big issue though has never been "do games make people aggressive" but "do video games make people violent", two very different things, the latter of which is a lot harder to test because of human ethic laws and such silliness (kidding, of course).

But a lot of this research does seem to be pointing to the possibility that someone with pre-existing violent behaviors could, theoretically, become more prone to releasing that violence on people, with an increase in aggression caused by violent video games. Should be interesting to see where this research leads in a few years, and if we'll ever actually see a noticeable decline in violent games in the future.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. "Video Games can cause aggression, aggression can mean violence."

The same way football players are more likely to use steroids than a lazy teenager, a person who drives everyday is more likely to get in a car accident, and a surfer is more likely to be eaten by a shark. Theres bad in everything, but i dont see them banning bulk tubs of "Scooperman" because to much "Frozen Dairy Desert" can lead to heart failure.

In the end, studies like this get us nowhere, and never will. Just because people are more angry after a few thousand rounds of CoD, doesnt mean they will go out and 360 noscope the neighbors cat.

So is this more aggression, or is this people being more aggressive only immediately after having played the games? Because I think that's the next step to study, as what I got from this article doesn't give any indication of effects beyond aggression immediately after playing the games. Also, I'd like to see some of these studies done with people who watch sports, or other activities to get a better comparison of how entertainment media affects people.

Not only does this study not prove that violent video games make people commit more violence, but it also does not prove that violent video games even make people more aggressive. Unless you consider writing violent stories correlates into you being an aggressive person, which I think is silly.

I would punch this professor in the face, but I'm having too much fun playing violent videogames.

...And ultimately harmless hazing of an opponent correlates with actual anti-social behavior because...

This is kind of like saying that eating sugar correlates with animal abuse because you see kids biteing of the heads of Swedish fish. Where is the rationale behind saying that annoying a stranger significantly less then a lot of good natured pranks has any sort of connection with aggressive behavior? The assumption here is that a metaphorical stand in for real world violence(The loud sound) has external valididity for actual violence. Thats just so much additional research method noise added to the idea that pretend violence is a stand in for real world violence, which is the hypothesis being tested in the first place. It's logic that's about as circular as it gets.

I'm fine with the study being done generally. Research games more. But there are some wild and unsupported hypothesis that are implied by this study to people who don't know how to read a psychological study.

My violent videogames do not make me angry. And if this professor doesn't take it back, I'ma cut him! D:<

(just in case anyone actually doesn't get it, it's called sarcasm)

So because they play violent games they expect more people to act violent towards them? isn't that a good expectation for defense of one's self?

I would take these pseudoscientific studies more seriously if they stopped comparing it to various types of chemical consumption and gave a detailed analysis to what differentiates the results of the prolonged consumption of violent interactive media from violent non interactive media.

Andy Chalk:
At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.

This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.

EDIT: Scratch the above, I completely misinterpreted what was written.

All I'm saying is...

Hilter, Stalin, Mao, Khan...

None of THEM ever played a video game.

You know, alternatively violent video games produces a heighten violent imagination, or they are more likely to perceive FICTIONAL characters to doing violent things because they've been constantly exposed to a medium where problems are fixed violent. He may be correct, but it's REALLY lacking ecological validity and I'm really hoping the article is being paraphrased and not they've deduced that violent video-games have long time negative effects from three days of playing video games leading to a tendency to be more violent with the imagination. Which by the way, violent imagination means nothing in terms of violent behaviour.

ScrabbitRabbit:

This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.

Actually, they got a neutral story and were told "okay, the main character in this neutral story (e.g. a story about a man breaking down) has a problem, how would that main character (not the character in the games people are playing) fix the problem in the story?". It's still flawed, but not because that.

So, it's not at all possible that, from a creative standpoint, people who recently played violent games were more likely to create violent storylines.

No, they totally now expect that everyone's going to be violent.

Honestly, it's more viable and less well, fucktarded, than most of these kinds of studies, but I still don't believe it.

Tanis:
All I'm saying is...

Hilter, Stalin, Mao, Khan...

None of THEM ever played a video game.

Must have been one of those damn paintings, books, music or films. They really should just ban all of these just to be safe.

OT: If you ask someone questions right after a long session of a video game, he might still be in that game's state of mind and answer accordingly. It doesn't mean that he's a more aggressive person or more likely to commit violent acts. Also, some people have certain issues that video games can help air out and prevent potential breakdown in the future.

ScrabbitRabbit:

Andy Chalk:
At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.

This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.

glad someone else caught that one. :)
I couldn't stop laughing at the lack of common sense in that one.

I give them credit that at least this looks like they made a serious attempt at research and not just gaming the effort (so to speak) to gain the appropriately sensationalist headlines.

That said, I don't think you can necessarily gauge a long-term effect, even if it appears to be cumulative, on how people react immediately after playing a violent game. What if the seeming increase in aggression is related to re-enforcing the skill-sets necessary to excel in the (of necessity) aggressive game, but there would be no actual increase in other aggressive behaviors an hour later?

I wonder how many studies have been done on whether action/horror movies make people more violent and/or aggressive. Or *gasp* whether action/horror NOVELS make people more violent and/or aggressive.

Probably not... those are respectable media, not like this modern trash you get today. Oh wait... it's EXACTLY the same for anyone who isn't an idiot. Too bad so many people are idiots.

If I find the son of a bitch who says I'm gonna act all aggressive after an epic night of TF2, I'll rip his limbs off.

...Or make him hot chocolate, or whatever.

After just three days of 20 minutes each? It's hard to relate that to actual consumption levels. Researcher was clearly and badly biased (for example believing that gamers are young rather than the average adult in 20's,30's) which is a shame but still. I wonder if any of those 70 were gamers, because after years of shooters can 3 days of 20 minutes still have an affect on your behaviour

kouriichi:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. "Video Games can cause aggression, aggression can mean violence."

The same way football players are more likely to use steroids than a lazy teenager, a person who drives everyday is more likely to get in a car accident, and a surfer is more likely to be eaten by a shark. Theres bad in everything, but i dont see them banning bulk tubs of "Scooperman" because to much "Frozen Dairy Desert" can lead to heart failure.

In the end, studies like this get us nowhere, and never will. Just because people are more angry after a few thousand rounds of CoD, doesnt mean they will go out and 360 noscope the neighbors cat.

I've tended to share this opinion with you and there were quite a few things I'd like to nitpick about the study but in this study particularly there was something which I thought is worth a lot more thought. The increased blast game is very different, we tend to think of violence and the consequences of violence in fairly standard humdrum terms, noscoping a cat, violent crime, muggings, fights and things like that, and yeah they're awful events but they're rare events that take a lot of violence and are tightly controlled by stuff like the police.

The blasting game is different though. That's not about physical violence, that's about mistrust and defensiveness (say how I react when someone accuses my hobby of having negative affects =D) and thats much less serious but much more fundamental to our society and everything in it. It's the same type of decision that business leaders make every day and this study is suggesting that a business leader whose just got off a three day CoD binge is more likely to slap on an incredibly tight awkward binding contract. A producer is more likely to decide to milk a genre into the dust because they're worried their opponents will do the same first.

I mean I'm sure you've heard of the prisoners problem/dilemma which basically means in a lot of scenarios nothing actually functions without a lot of irrational trust. And what this study is saying, is that violent videogames actually make that trust harder to form.

Obviously we can't just ban videogames, but we need to know what they do to us, so we can learn not to be like that, this is a fairly serious personality, I've played that game in a studies before and I know exactly what sort of person you have to be to keep increasing the intensity and frankly, as someone who didn't want to be punishing to the other guy, it's a little worrying knowing that if I'd played some CoD I would have been more likely to blast him. And this isn't something that will harm the person playing the games, heck, business and the prisoners dilemma show that this sort of behaviour will make you rich and successful, but it negatively affects how you behave to other people.

It's not doom, but it's also something not to be dismissed either. It#s worth thought (the bit about the story is probably worth less thought though, because it's fiction, it seems to me that watching anything with a violent theme will put you in the mood for expecting violent stories. That doesn't guide behaviour)

Riobux:
You know, alternatively violent video games produces a heighten violent imagination, or they are more likely to perceive FICTIONAL characters to doing violent things because they've been constantly exposed to a medium where problems are fixed violent. He may be correct, but it's REALLY lacking ecological validity and I'm really hoping the article is being paraphrased and not they've deduced that violent video-games have long time negative effects from three days of playing video games leading to a tendency to be more violent with the imagination. Which by the way, violent imagination means nothing in terms of violent behaviour.

I agree with you on this one, but I'm actually a little disturbed by the second study. As I've said above, I've done that one before and the mindset its testing is exactly right. Not I'm going to hit you violence, but I can't trust you so I'm going to draw up a really nasty contract

I think the important part of this study is that it is only 70 people from one small area which even a high school statistics student will tell you that this is by no means a valid study on the human race, its barely a valid study on french university students.

I do feel that I get angryer thease days at inantimate objects...mostly though just in th form of screaming obscenities and dropping C-bombs at charachters on screen

no Idea of its related but thankfully its not like agressian is an issue for

Huh, it's not like there's this thing called competitiveness or anything. Wouldn't want to confuse people becoming increasingly verbal due to a growing desire to perform well in a game with aggression now would we?

Overall I feel like I can't get a good read off of the first portion of research without knowing the "neutral" story that was told to the participants, especially since it's hard to gauge the validity of their reactions based on it.

And all of those non-violent games are highly non-competitive as well. Sure, you can compete against other racers in games like Pure, but it's a different environment,and doesn't cause mounting stress so much as games like Call of Duty.

Also, why the heck did they use Condemned 2? That game is indeed pretty f***ed up.

Riobux:

ScrabbitRabbit:

This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.

Actually, they got a neutral story and were told "okay, the main character in this neutral story (e.g. a story about a man breaking down) has a problem, how would that main character (not the character in the games people are playing) fix the problem in the story?". It's still flawed, but not because that.

OH! I just misinterpreted it then :']

Scratch what I said, then.

Alright, that's all the proof I need. I'm petitioning for a ban on all violent video games, because surely that is the most sensible thing to do.

Or, y'know, we could rely on the majority of people to be able to resist acting upon the aggressive and/or violent impulses that arise, much like any civilized human being in modern socie..

Yeah, screw it, that's not likely to happen this day and age.

On a more serious note: of course a character with violent tendencies is going to be predicted to act violently. It's psychology at a kindergarten level. Man with gun who shoots many things likely will shoot many more things with gun. It's not rocket surgery. A five-year old "expert psychoanalyst" could've told you that.

EDIT: 'Purrently someone else made a similar argument to mine and that argument was refuted. Still, the studies are kinda silly. Now, let's all bask in the warm feelings that come with resolving these misunderstandings with reason and polite correction....

ScrabbitRabbit:

Andy Chalk:
At the end of each session, they were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the lead character would say or do in it. The students who played violent games were more likely to think that the character would behave aggressively or violently, a belief that grew stronger with each passing day; those in the non-violent pool did not show any increased expectations of hostility.

This is an awful test. Of course the students would believe that the lead characters of the more violent games would react violently - they would! That's why they're the lead character of a violent game!

The other test is more credible, though.

They were given the beginning of a story - it doesn't specify what story, but I would take a guess that it wasn't the protagonist of the video game.

OP: Look, there's no doubt that violent media has an effect on people. What you watch and what you do effects you.

But these studies look at things all wrong. They don't look at positive outcomes, they don't look at how they might help a person, etc. Each one of these studies is flawed from the very beginning because of the initial question being asked "What cumulative negative effects do violent video games have?" A better question would be "How do video games effect stress levels?" or some scientificy title about hormones or something. This is like confirmation bias. You expect the results and therefore you obtain them.

Xanadu84:
But there are some wild and unsupported hypothesis that are implied by this study to people who don't know how to read a psychological study.

There are some pretty sketchy hypotheses and conclusions drawn from studies like this by people who do know how to read them (and the people who actually perform the studies).

As for your other points, here's the abstract from the paper itself:

It is well established that violent video games increase aggression. There is a stronger evidence of short-term violent video game effects than of long-term effects. The present experiment tests the cumulative long-term effects of violent video games on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior over three consecutive days. Participants (N = 70) played violent or nonviolent video games 20 min a day for three consecutive days. After gameplay, participants could blast a confederate with loud unpleasant noise through headphones (the aggression measure). As a potential causal mechanism, we measured hostile expectations. Participants read ambiguous story stems about potential interpersonal conflicts, and listed what they thought the main characters would do or say, think, and feel as the story continued. As expected, aggressive behavior and hostile expectations increased over days for violent game players, but not for nonviolent video game players, and the increase in aggressive behavior was partially due to hostile expectations.

No surprises there, it's not like this is Bushman's first 'games are bad' study/paper.

Lets see, what games do I often play
Fallout 3
Chivalry
Natural Selection 2
Oblivion
Star Trek Online
Halo
and The Walking Dead

How are my aggression response levels

Minimal

...
hmmm

jollybarracuda:
Seems like pretty valid research. I guess the big issue though has never been "do games make people aggressive" but "do video games make people violent", two very different things, the latter of which is a lot harder to test because of human ethic laws and such silliness (kidding, of course).

But a lot of this research does seem to be pointing to the possibility that someone with pre-existing violent behaviors could, theoretically, become more prone to releasing that violence on people, with an increase in aggression caused by violent video games. Should be interesting to see where this research leads in a few years, and if we'll ever actually see a noticeable decline in violent games in the future.

no this is not valid research because they make a fallacious irrational leap in their findings.
i a person witnessing numerous violent acts
ii person will then imprint aggressive thought processes onto a fictional character and by proxy
iii will presume that another person will exhibit violent tendencies
iv because the other person will be perceived to exhibit violent tendencies then the initial person will be more likely to act in a violent manor.

this line of logic completely loses all rational backing when going from postulate ii to iii (because there is this thing called the fight or flight response which is an either or not an absolute), and then there is supposed to be an un-given postulate v (where the initial person will then be likely to act in a aggressive, or violent manor) which was considered to be such a fallacious leap that they omitted it themselves.

an interesting thought that doesn't seem to be mentioned this study. How did the violent games study compare with OTHER violent media on the same/similar sample group? If 1 group watches a marathon of Rambo, terminator, die hard, etc and another group watches a bunch of comedies or something would you get the same or similar effect on people? i would think you would?

My point is this shouldn't be a binary thing. ANY exposure to violent shit will probably make you think about more violent shit. The real question is whether games are significantly better or worse then other media people consume. Because if its the same there really isn't much of an issue here now is there.

Hrm. 20 minutes/day of violent games results in more and more aggression each day? And you expect it to get worse? Based on years of minimum 20 minutes/day of game play per day (Well, most days at least if I had to guess) I should be an incoherent barbarian incapable of anything but babbled insults as I bash in the heads of all you come near me with a sharpened XBox controller.

Or, bare minimum, I should be showing some sort of overt sign of aggressiveness. Certainly if 10+ years of constant exposure doesn't cause overtly harmful behavior or thinking, then any research which concludes a noticeable increase after a combined hour of play should be carefully eyeballed.

I'm not disputing that the results are accurate of course. What I am disputing is the interpretation. It's a known fact that human beings are more or less incapable of totally spontaneous generation of ideas. All this study really shows is that when asked for multiple solutions to a creative problem, they reached for solutions generated by their most recent experience first.

There are potentially troubling implications to that conclusion, but this study is not sufficient to make them any more than overreaching extrapolations.

I'm sure the victory noise thing is significant, but ultimately I don't think it symbolizes actual violence. There's a world of difference between irritation and physical violence.

Brilliant! So that's why violent crime has been on the rise for the last 20 years--Oh, er, wait. Sorry. Apparently violent crime has been on a massive decline since the early '90s. Huh. That one period of time where people have been playing craploads more video games than ever before.

Anyway, there definitely couldn't be an inverse relationship between people getting out their rage fake murdering people and the rate of frustrated people getting guns and regular murdering people. That would be silly.

Aureliano:
Brilliant! So that's why violent crime has been on the rise for the last 20 years--Oh, er, wait. Sorry. Apparently violent crime has been on a massive decline since the early '90s. Huh. That one period of time where people have been playing craploads more video games than ever before.

Anyway, there definitely couldn't be an inverse relationship between people getting out their rage fake murdering people and the rate of frustrated people getting guns and regular murdering people. That would be silly.

You have a point but you're missing some data. Things that affect violent crime in youth typically take 20 years for it to be seen in statistics. The book Freakanomics has a good argument that shows the logic behind it. So if you use Mortal Kombat as the start of Violent video games then there should have been an uptick in violence in 2011. And since games only got more violent you'd expect the next 10 years to have a substantial increase in Violent Crime. However, we're still in a decrease in violent crime.

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