Research Finds Negative Effects in Violent Videogames

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RhombusHatesYou:

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.

Few problems here...

1) External validity. What kind of aggression does he think he is measuring? Because, "hitting someone with a baseball bat" and "trash talk at the poker table" seem to both be measured as aggression. Blasting loud sounds is no Milgram study. Ive done worse things to my friends as a form of camaraderie, and I suspect that most people have. Sure, he may be measuring, "Aggression", and that's all well and good, but in this study, aggression may be nothing more then the context given to a friendly, engageing competition. Maybe he never said as such, but the message seems to be assuming that aggression that is being measured is undesirable. In fact, a rational and balanced passion to achieve is aggression. Lack of aggression could be calm, or it could be a predisposition to becoming withdrawn and depressed.

2) I really don't see how his story stem tests have anything to do with anything except basic pattern recognition. Basically, this study might as well be a bunch of people watching Friday the 13th movies, and researchers being shocked that after a few sequels, most of the audience figured out that Jason was going to hurt the slutty teenage girl.

3) Whats the baseline? increased aggression may seem all scary, but how does that aggression compare to, say, after watching a violent movie. Or after watching a football game (You can define that however you want, still works). or after a beer or 2. or after a spirited debate. Or after sex. Or after a whole world of human experiences. Aggression levels may be elevated, but it could be raised to a random and insignificant blip on the scale of human experiences.

4) Lets not even go into participant bias. You know just maybe, the participants who were in a lab and given a violent game to play figured out that maybe the researchers were looking for violent reactions. Oh, and who was the sampled population? You know most preliminary research that gets done should have tacked on to the title, "...among college aged Psych 101 students. Who needed extra credit."

Basically, the research itself may be useful as a start, but it is highly unlikely that it is actually saying anything that the average reader, or possibly even the researchers, think its saying. This paper may say a decent amount, but it doesn't say much about games having a negative effect on peoples behaviors here in the real world.

Andy Chalk:
"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."

I can't be the only one who noiticed the insane amount of irony in this statement and the rest of the thread where people rant off about how this guy is bullshit.

Every other comment I want to just smack my head in frustration. People saying things they think are contrary when in fact the scientists would agree, producing complete ad homeniem attacks against the researchers for no reason, acting defensively for absolutely no reason, restating things that the scientists themselves said and acting like they didn't in an effort to counter what the reasearchers never said in the first place, it's all incredibly idiotic.

Look, video games have an affect, both positive and negative. The sooner we, the video game community, realize this the sooner we can actually move forward and understand the psychology of all this and better understand human behavior. Acting like defensive, knee-jerking jackasses isn't going to help and only makes you look more like, well, a jackass. It's ridiculous.

Fair study, but not one that can lead to any long term conclusions (least from the description in the article). Hell the people may have written a more violent story simply because they just spent x hours playing a game about killing people, but does that have any long term effects? A nice control would've been to call these people back a few weeks later and test to see how violent the stories were now.

I wonder if they considered that aggressive people tend to pick aggressive games?

And the whole victory thing isn't a surprise. I don't see that a bigger celebration has to do anything with aggression. But maybe I'm just wrong.

I saw that picture on the front page and thought for a moment that he was the EAT SHIT dude.

Certainly not the most credible study with such a small sample, such random input and so little data gathered.
But it does have some relevant indications for sure, perhaps this will lead to something more extensive and focused to find the causes.

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.

Of course, the findings could apply to a bunch of people watching football, as well. Not playing a football video game, but just passively watching it.

I'm not saying the findings are wrong, merely that I don't think they have anything to do with video games particularly. I think you would likely find the same difference between people watching Monday Night Football and those watching Masterpiece Theater.

Well I have NEVER seen usual people get more aggressive than with board games like "Don'T Get Angry" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensch_%C3%A4rgere_dich_nicht ) or Monopoly which are considered a cultural heritage.

And while I saw lots of bystander fights after soccer games, I NEVER saw any physical violence at Quake-Con.

That's not saying that EVERYTHING you do for a long time won't have a long term effect on you.

Also:
- Some people become totally aggressive dicks when they get drunk, while others just make the parts better.
- Always preaching about being good for years can make one self-rightious.
the list goes on...

I'm not sure I follow, given I've been playing bloody shooters since I was a kid and haven't exactly stopped as it's a good way to vent and it's generally fun and I'm not hostile, I've often been told I'm not aggressive enough to people who've owed me.

I guess it comes down to everyone is different and effects vary.

The only time I am hostile, is while losing in matchmaking of video games or losing at them in general, otherwise I've never even been in a fight. So yeah, I get angry when I lose, everyone does at some point. I'm not going to punch a hole in a wall or something.

Perhaps people who play violent video games are just more inclined to vent their aggression in fictional and harmless ways, whereas those who did not play violent video games kept their feelings hidden, allowing them to fester deep in their stony hearts. If someone comes up with a study showing that violent video games leads to actual physical violence rather than an overactive imagination or extra-loud trash talking, then I will begin to worry.

Tbh I'm glad that it just sounds like a decent study. That's always nice to see. Need to look at it a bit better when I'm not sleepy, mind...

Here's the thing, this is one study. No matter how well done a study is, it really takes multiple studies for verification. Additionally, there have been a ton of studies done on this sort of thing with wildly different results, and just one study isn't going to make anything clearer.

Although I must say, my impression from the countless studies that have been done is that violent video games do cause aggression, but they also provide a means to channel that aggression, so there's really no net difference. But, this is hardly some set in stone fact, and this is still a subject that requires further research.

Tanis:
All I'm saying is...

Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Khan...

None of THEM ever played a video game.

Not true. You see, along with early jets and other advances Nazi scientists also developed a version of Pong, only available for propaganda purposes in the Hitler Youth. You know why Germany is so strict towards video games? It's because they cause Nazism.

Also Stalin invented Tetris, the West just didn't know about it for a long time. His version had little Ukrainian people that the blocks crushed into a bloody pulp as they fell down.

Mao...I got nothing. Maybe American McGee developed a time machine to go back and see how great China was during the Great Leap Forward.

I guess this is a better study than most, but so far it only proves that people who play stressing games get more excited when they win and the more tension is applied to the environment and the more it happens the more excited they get.

Now I have repeated this a lot of times. Violent games might increase aggression, it might decrease aggression, but blaming or praising video games for either increasing or decreasing aggression is stupid.

The number of people playing violent games are up and actual violence is up. This doesn't work as proof of any kind either. Society is changing in several ways and the rise of games is only one of the changes. It could be a change in school systems, changes in the views of proper parenting, people get their aggression out there by having flame wars on the internet, a rising wave of apathy, seriously video games is just a part of the picture.

Andy Chalk:
"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."

Unscientific and hyperbolic comparisons aren't the best start, and this is a bit of a hum-dinger; cigarettes and cancer? Wowza. Still, lets have a gander at their methodology....

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.

This....is moronic. First, where's the control? You know, the third group who were playing no videogames at all but were given the same tasks as the two videogame groups in order to indicate whether the results you're getting from said groups are indicative and worthwhile or just random bullshit. Second, was the "test" administered prior to the period of videogame exposure, in order to provide a baseline for comparison with the post-exposure results? Third, when did creative writing become a valid scientific technique for diagnosing aberrant behaviour?

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.

The first and second issues above also apply here. The actual test is a poorly disguised Milgram Experiment, meaning that A; they used possibly the most well-known test in neuroscientific history which is a fucking stupid thing to do as it could easily have tainted the result if any of the participants realised what was happening(since it would immediately tell them the pretend reason for the testing was total bollocks), and B; they twisted a test designed to analyse the effect of instruction from an authority figure on personal ethics so that it vaguely fit into their initial supposition.

"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.

Does it? Where, exactly? You've not defined "hostile expectations", you've not described how they relate to aggressive behaviour, and you fail to explain how ascribing qualities to a fictional character is a sound method for determining whether an individual is exhibiting "hostile expectations".

"After playing a violent videogame, we found that people expect others to behave aggressively.

No you didn't. You have made a series of assumptions and based a faulty conclusion on them.

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."

Woah there Nelly. Leaving aside that whole "may make them" thing(meaning it could just as well have no effect at all), you've still not shown the things you're claiming to have shown. Also: which other studies? You don't bother to actually fucking cite them.

It's impossible to determine just how much aggression may build up in people who play violent games, he added, because

...you're a fucking quack who couldn't experiment his way out of a paper bag? Because it's a question the answer to which is so fucking situational and conditional it's not worth asking in the first place?

..it isn't "practical or ethical" to test them for longer periods of time.

Oh kindly bugger off. You don't get to make a claim, and then tell us you can never actually back it up because it's impossible to test. If fucking God doesn't get away with that nonsense, what makes you think you can?

"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."

In other words, he's pulling suppositions and assumptions out of his arsehole fully-formed.

Source: Ohio State University

And so the Escapist has joined the storied ranks of tabloids everywhere by just uncritically reposting a press release with a headline which implies the bullshit within is unchallenged fact.

Doclector:
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.

This about sums up my thoughts.

It was a nice effort, but it's still making many of the same mistakes as other "studies" that "found" negative effects of violent video games.

sethisjimmy:
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.

They're using quite valid psychological testing procedures. Where this study will fall down is when stupid people will try to use this study to prove that videogames cause actual violence.

I get really annoyed by these studies, not because I think there wrong but because they seem to be missing the point.

*Disclaimer*
IM NO EXPERT, but isn't this true for most forms of media? Im talking about the general sense of violence leading to more violance, thats what I was always taught. Chances are people are going to be more aggressive after watching Conan the Barbarian then say if they watched Toy Story because thats what art does, gets you feeling stuff. Games even more so as there a experience dictated by the player, interactive media/art = it puts you in the mind set of the game, at least, a good game does. The same could be said for sports to, the competitive nature of these pass times breed a us vs them point of veiw leading to higher levels of aggression. Lets not joke about, theres a much higher of chance of people involved in sports being aggressive then people involved in mathematics. This is of course disregarding the fact that alot of violent people get into these pass times because their just naturally more violent.

HOWEVER, I wouldn't say the problem was people experiencing these pass times but their lack of balance. If your always in a violent mind set, you'll naturally become more violent, the same as any other emotion. If I had a kid and they enjoyed playing CoD then thats fine, as long as they tried other stuff to. I seriously don't think violent medias the problem, its the fact people arn't trying other stuff. After all the sames true for things like sex, doing it every now and then is seen as healthy while doing it every moment of the day is seen as a little unhealty, or legendary depending on who you ask... or maybe im just babbling and its pointless to try and catergorise people as their all different... yeah lets just go with that coop out shall we.

First we were introverted nerds with pocket protectors, acne, and thick glasses living in mom's basement
Now we're raging psychopaths

Make up your minds and stick to one extreme stereotype!

Lawyer105:
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.

Books and movies are not interactive. That's a HUGE difference. Compare your thoughts about the protagonists actions in a movie such as Commando, and then compare them to the thoughts on the actions of your character in any game where you get to kill large numbers of enemies.

FoolKiller:
I wonder if they considered that aggressive people tend to pick aggressive games?[quote]The people in the study weren't the ones choosing which games they were playing, so this is invalid.

[quote]And the whole victory thing isn't a surprise. I don't see that a bigger celebration has to do anything with aggression. But maybe I'm just wrong.

Considering the celebration is actively aggressive (An obnoxious/offensive noise), and it DIDN'T increase in similarly-competitive but NOT violent games, then it's a textbook case of increased aggression.

Some parts of this I don't really understand, I'll have to actually look at the report. But going over the article's description...

I would kind of expect violent games to involve violent characters. Just like how I would expect a comedy film having jokes... I think I have an idea about what this "noise" is. But, whatever.

Magichead:

Andy Chalk:
"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."

Unscientific and hyperbolic comparisons aren't the best start, and this is a bit of a hum-dinger; cigarettes and cancer? Wowza. Still, lets have a gander at their methodology....

I'll tackle your even-more-nonsense responses!

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.

This....is moronic. First, where's the control? You know, the third group who were playing no videogames at all but were given the same tasks as the two videogame groups in order to indicate whether the results you're getting from said groups are indicative and worthwhile or just random bullshit. Second, was the "test" administered prior to the period of videogame exposure, in order to provide a baseline for comparison with the post-exposure results? Third, when did creative writing become a valid scientific technique for diagnosing aberrant behaviour?

The control is the people playing non-violent games. It's why scientific medical studies use people on a placebo for a "control" instead of people not taking any "treatment" as the control. Learn your scientific method. This isn't a study about "Are gamers violent." It's "Are gamers who play violent games more aggressive than gamers that play non-violent games."

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.

The first and second issues above also apply here. The actual test is a poorly disguised Milgram Experiment, meaning that A; they used possibly the most well-known test in neuroscientific history which is a fucking stupid thing to do as it could easily have tainted the result if any of the participants realised what was happening(since it would immediately tell them the pretend reason for the testing was total bollocks), and B; they twisted a test designed to analyse the effect of instruction from an authority figure on personal ethics so that it vaguely fit into their initial supposition.

If you think the test is invalid because it uses similar methodology to the Milgram Experiment, then you REALLY don't understand the scientific process you're trying to support. A 'false pretense' is required in this sort of study to keep people from trying to 'guide' their responses to the answer they want to give the researchers, instead of an untainted answer (Imagine how the Milgram experiment would have gone if the subjects were outright told that they were being tested on how blindly they follow orders from a superior). What you're calling "a thinly disguised Milgram Experiment" is actually reliable psychological testing procedure.

I'd address the rest, but although I'd almost think you're correct, assuming you play violent video games, your response is further supporting conclusions found in the study.

Scow2:
Books and movies are not interactive. That's a HUGE difference. Compare your thoughts about the protagonists actions in a movie such as Commando, and then compare them to the thoughts on the actions of your character in any game where you get to kill large numbers of enemies.

Personally, I don't see much of a difference. Clearly I'm massively unusual in that I can tell the difference between a game and reality, because I don't really care about shooting stuff on a screen any more than I'd care about demolishing an inconveniently placed apartment block, but I abhor violence and abuse of power in real life.

In addition, just because the medium is interactive shouldn't lead to the demonisation it receives. 80 years ago, people were horrified by burlesque (officially, anyway). Today it's fine. People were horrified by radio (for completely different reasons! :P ). Today it's fine. People were horrified when TV came out. Today it's a substitute nanny.

Gaming should be no different. Those who refuse to learn from history are too gorram' retarded to be permitted to influence policy decisions and societal perceptions. Unfortunately, to my eternal disgust, the population as a group are too retarded to keep the loonies in check.

Sometimes, I'm just ashamed to be human (and all that other unnecessarily over the top deprecation! :P ).

If someone forced me to play video games for three days straight, I'd be uppity too. I want to sleep. I want to read a book. Stop dictating my life!

gardian06:

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 excellent point, and one I've had to make in the past. See, he claims this research is brand new, but I saw an experiment with extremely similar parameters five or six years ago.

I wanna see some peer reviews on this. There must be someone who sees the stupidity of this research.

Why is non-violent aggression negative? I much prefer talking to the asinine wise guy than the meek apologetic guy, if neither is going to to turn violent.

You know, I bet if people tested kids playing sports, they'd find the kids who play sports everyday get more aggressive too. Mulitplayer games are an aggressive activity, like any game. They involve striving for victory and trying to overcome and outplay your opponent. That means you display aggression (or lose a lot). Of course its not really an issue that has been studied due to the relative dissimilarity of the two types of games.

'Course I've been playing games for years, so either I accumulate aggression at a very small rate, my plateau of aggression is small, or some of this science is bullshit (at least for some people). Maybe the game I play just aren't violent... *checks*, nope they have head explosions and tons and tons of murder. Hooray for the reinforcement of positive play behavior by creating visual cues and indicators... I mean mindless violence!

or maybe the peopel were jsut annoyed that the "Scientists" didnt let them continue playing and isntead bombarded them with boring stories and questions?

Mimsofthedawg:

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.

Exactly. That's why this is bogus science.

Also - why weren't the participants given a similar test before they played the games to compare the change in their reaction? Why weren't they tested how they react on different types of violent media for comparison? What about other age groups? Also different personality types may come into play.

This doesn't give us any useful data. Any neuroscientist or psychologist could tell you that exposure to violent media imprints you with violent imagery for a short term.

And like every other study about video games the test group is just too small, if you take 70 people, all from the same environment your results don't tell much.
Also: statistics about violent crime in countries where a majority of people has access to video games shows a massive decline in violent crime

I think they keep mistaking aggressive with douchebaggy

This may be true but playing violent games is the same as watching violent films like Die Hard or Star Wars (yup people die so its violent), the same with violent books but I would say less so because they are not visual.

Anyone who goes out and kills someone and then blames videogames is wrong, because they were crazy in the first place. Normal rational people can tell that how a character in a game acts is not how you should act in reality. For example in games you sprint everywhere and have no concept of privacy or personal space. Try sprinting up to random strangers in the street and asking them for a quest, then come back and tell me how it went.
Dont blame the game, blame the nutter who is making the excuses.

That first test is a load of arse - I could tell you this even without having taken psychology courses in uni. Of course you'll get more violently inclined answers from those playing violent games, because the lead characters in said games are less concerned about picking flowers or racing rivals and more about survival against angry foreigners and genocidal space monsters. It's a matter of common sense. -.-

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