Study Finds Similarities Between Videogame Addiction, Asperger's

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Study Finds Similarities Between Videogame Addiction, Asperger's

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A new study claims that videogame "addicts" exhibit many of the same negative personality traits as people diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

The research, conducted by Dr. John Charlton of the University of Bolton in the U.K. and Ian Danforth of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, found that individuals who showed more signs of addiction to videogames showed heightened personality traits of neuroticism, lack of extroversion and lack of agreeableness. All three are considered signs of Asperger's, described as "a variety of high-functioning autism."

The researchers clarified that videogame addicts "share some of the same characteristics because they find it easier to empathize with computer systems than with other people," not that they had or were more prone to have Asperger's, according to a Next Generation report. The results of the study, which covered 391 videogame players of whom 86 percent were male, were presented on Thursday to the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

"The thinking in the field is that there is a scale upon which people, even those considered to be "normal," can be placed upon, and that people such as engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are nearer to the non-empathizing, systemizing end of the spectrum, with people with Asperger's syndrome even further along again," Charlton said. "Our research supports the idea that people who are heavily involved in game playing may be nearer to autistic spectrum disorders than people who have no interest in gaming."

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How very interesting, but hardly suprising. What i am curious about is if these symptoms are developed because the people game alot or do they game alot because they have the symptoms.

I'm not addicted... i just have the sudden and unexplainable urge to blow something up with a large gun. (in the case of Chrome Hounds. a 200 ton gun with lots of high explosives)

I'd really love to have some info on their methodology for this, specifically their sample size, evaluation methods, and control groups, as well as the response from the researchers' scientific peers. A lot of news stories that begin with some variant of the words "new study" fail to follow up with additional reports after the studies are disputed or discredited. I get particularly suspicious when the research seems to echo popular bias. Will there be a follow-up discussing the similarity between sports fans and people with impulse-control disorders? Artists and schizophreniform disorders?

I am still curios on how they do this kind of research.

Aspergers tends to be blown up by the public yes. A full blown case results in a person who tends to be extremely hard to communicate with. But using the term to describe someone who is anti-social or shy isent a good idea, some things are just personality.

Anyone hear about that study a year or two back about the effect of different Star Wars characters on locusts, or something silly like that.

No wonder the Science establishment is short of money if they're going to waste it on silly experiments like that.

You didn't hear about the Phillipines saying that crucifixion is bad for your health?

But yes, it says Aspergers causes addiction rather than the other way around. Possibly the same way it might cause Photo-Epilepsy; because Rainbow road on Mario-Kart nearly makes me blow chunks.

As an introvert, I wouldn't say that a lack of extroversion is a negative personality trait.

As for agreeableness, the majority of people suck, so who's really at fault there?

Nugoo:
As an introvert, I wouldn't say that a lack of extroversion is a negative personality trait.

As for agreeableness, the majority of people suck, so who's really at fault there?

I completely agree.

Kogarian:

Nugoo:
As an introvert, I wouldn't say that a lack of extroversion is a negative personality trait.

As for agreeableness, the majority of people suck, so who's really at fault there?

I completely agree.

As do I, but I cannot help but be intrigued by this report. My brother has Asperger's Syndrome and finds it very difficult to relate to people. For a long time I wondered whether I also had it due to my own social inadequacies and introversions. Still do, actually.

But I also agree with Mshcherbatskaya. If you seriously want us to believe this then give us some more information. I'm sick and tired of psychology reports which claim to find negative effects of videogames and then fail to back up their claims with further information that validates their claims.

Wasn't there a study that said video game addiction affects the same part of the brain that gambling addiction does? So...which is it? Are we on par with compulsive gamblers, or do we have Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger bassicly means, in short, that you have less developed social brainpart, and a more developed logical one. Ive learned alot about this, since im an asperger myself.

So bassicly i think that they mean, people who play, or work with computers, more than most people, have decreased social skills, but have a more logical way of thinking. I hardly think that gaming, rots your brain, and leaves nothing behind, but rather develops your logical skills, or other skills for that sake, rather than the social.

mshcherbatskaya:
I'd really love to have some info on their methodology for this, specifically their sample size, evaluation methods, and control groups, as well as the response from the researchers' scientific peers.

Sample size is in the original post and looks fine for what they're measuring. You can assume survey based methods given the description, and since it's a correlational study, there probably isn't a control group per se. You generally use a control group when you're trying to manipulate an independent variable, which it doesn't appear they're doing.

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it - call em up and let us know the details.

http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/proceedings/proceedings_home.cfm

I can give you a likely response from some of their scientific peers - meh. It's a correlation between a self-selected behavior and several generalizable traits used to classify a spectrum disorder. More an interesting armchair finding than anything else.

mshcherbatskaya:
A lot of news stories that begin with some variant of the words "new study" fail to follow up with additional reports after the studies are disputed or discredited. I get particularly suspicious when the research seems to echo popular bias. Will there be a follow-up discussing the similarity between sports fans and people with impulse-control disorders? Artists and schizophreniform disorders?

I'm not following your sports analogies, but the best approach would probably be to follow up on your own. A new finding is interesting (hence newsworthy); scientists bickering over the validity of those findings is probably only interesting to those who are in the field or personally vested (not newsworthy). Can't blame the media for that one, really; if you're interested, follow up.

Strafe Mcgee:
But I also agree with Mshcherbatskaya. If you seriously want us to believe this then give us some more information. I'm sick and tired of psychology reports which claim to find negative effects of videogames and then fail to back up their claims with further information that validates their claims.

See post above. Where are all these video game studies that fail to back up their claims?

To be sure, I'm not so much defending the validity of the study (Most gaming studies coming out of the UK make my eyes roll involuntarily) as arguing against the knee-jerk reaction of those not doing research to whip out their psych 101 experimental methods notes when research reports a result they don't like.

I don't doubt the report really. I've seen the effects of excessive gaming on myself ^^ After too long social the thought of social interaction creates thoughts of doubt and a fear of doing or saying something stupid. Also I know a guy who has no fear of interacting with people (he works in tech support), but he is well-known for rambling endlessly about games, movies and tv-series. He can reiterate entire episodes of South Park unless you stop him. It's not really that he's unaware of the discomfort he causes others, but he just doesn't care.

I recall Adams (as in Scott Adams :P) second law (I think it was): "People like to talk, people do not like to listen". It's not Aspbergers, it's just a common human trait amplified by the lack of diverse stimulus. I even know a guy who does nothing but play WoW. He claims to have Aspbergers but he wasn't anywhere near as introvert as he is now before he started playing WoW, so it's just an excuse. At the same time I know a guy who actually has Aspbergers. He often has trouble reading peoples reactions to things he says, has trouble understanding sarcasm etc, but he's not introvert.

Basically, there are all kinds of people, and people are affected differently by games. Some aren't affected at all, while some do become addicted.

Then again, I didn't do a study, so I can't say these cases I bring up are significant. But I'm sure everyone at least know someone like the tech support guy : P

Omnidum:
I am still curios on how they do this kind of research.

They lock themselves into one room each and force themselves through a 72 hours marathon session of Halo 3 on Legendary, then come out grumpy, sweaty, bleak and swear a lot.

I need to make a nerdy T-shirt about Asperger now.

Sample seems too small, classification of "addiction" is somewhat questionable, and the link to Asperger's is very tenuous. People with this disorder, which has a neurological basis, tend to identify with machines, sometimes think of themselves as robots, and to have difficulty processing, for example, the facial expressions and body language of other human beings, and, sometimes, to 'shut out' the world to a certain extent as a result (not always, as plenty of people with this disorder work around it, are inspirational examples of working around a problem). As many of you have said, gamers who spend a lot of time not interacting with other human beings in person are at risk of the last one, and they may come to identify with machines easily as well -- they are completing routine tasks using sophisticated technology -- and they 'shut out' the world to a certain extent in order to make time for games. So? The comparison means very little.

.. this is like saying that people with limited social skills are similar to people who have limited social skills as a result a neurological disorder... yes, people can voluntarily adopt the characteristics of illness. We could all be paranoid by choice, but a comparison to paranoid disorders that are not voluntary would not be very useful.

People (like me) are going to read this thing, though, because it's about games. Gets these two researchers a moment in the sun, about all it's good for.

There's bound to be crossovers; there always is with any kind of damn personality disorder. However, its probably not a great correlation at all, and this study is only the first of its kind. I'd be surprised if these guys have even heard of damn Seay...

People just like saying Asbergers.

Heh. 'Ass-burger'.

Nugoo:
As an introvert, I wouldn't say that a lack of extroversion is a negative personality trait.

As for agreeableness, the majority of people suck, so who's really at fault there?

You're not addicted to games are you?

Nugoo:
As an introvert, I wouldn't say that a lack of extroversion is a negative personality trait.

As for agreeableness, the majority of people suck, so who's really at fault there?

You're not addicted to games are you?

I love the implication that engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists are somehow 'less normal', and closer to being autistic.

This makes sense - my friend's father is beleived to have Aspergers, and if he isn't working or sleeping he's on a WoW Marathon session or any one of his many games consoles.
It's a worrying find. I too would consider myself an addict, and while I've never been diagnosed with aspergers, my social skills are somewhat questionable ( I have a LOT of friends, but they're all a bit peculiar ).
I beleive this study could do with further research, but I'm glad it doesn't outright claim that videogames leads to aspergers; just that they're linked. After the behaviour exhibited by myself and other game-loving friends of mine, it's difficult to disagree.

Professor Ardwulf:
Sample seems too small, classification of "addiction" is somewhat questionable, and the link to Asperger's is very tenuous. .. this is like saying that people with limited social skills are similar to people who have limited social skills as a result a neurological disorder... yes, people can voluntarily adopt the characteristics of illness. We could all be paranoid by choice, but a comparison to paranoid disorders that are not voluntary would not be very useful.

People (like me) are going to read this thing, though, because it's about games. Gets these two researchers a moment in the sun, about all it's good for.

I'm in agreement with you..but not the sample size issue. For most psychological assessment, 300 is a good min and just under 400 is fine.

But I feel you on the rest. See my earlier post about the research community's possible perception of this work - isn't much of a finding (Of course, that's why its in BPS and not APA/APS/etc.

Eagle Est1986:

Nugoo:
As an introvert, I wouldn't say that a lack of extroversion is a negative personality trait.

As for agreeableness, the majority of people suck, so who's really at fault there?

You're not addicted to games are you?

I never said I was. That being said, I have accidentally spent ~12 consecutive hours playing games several times.

It seems to me that a lot of people are complaining that this study isnt giving them any info on how the study was conducted etc. But these complaints are being made after only reading the Escapist's article. Get the report and set of results before you start putting the study down for this reason. It seems to me that 391 participants is a relatively large sample study for this sort of study. And besides from just my own experience (as a Mathematician) Ive got to say I can see what the study is talking about :P

391 is appropriate - see post #26.

Aetmos:
I love the implication that engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists are somehow 'less normal', and closer to being autistic.

It's actually true. Those who are much more technically minded are closer to Asperger's syndrome (whoever it was, don't take the piss by calling it ass-burgers. It's insulting.) Technically minded people, by being more focused upon numbers and logical problems can become more isolationist (I think that's a word) and find it harder to relate to people. Though not true in all cases, as a rule of thumb it can be applied generally. The more scientific and less people-orientated that you are, the closer you are on the 'scale' to Asperger's syndrome.

xMacx:

Strafe Mcgee:
But I also agree with Mshcherbatskaya. If you seriously want us to believe this then give us some more information. I'm sick and tired of psychology reports which claim to find negative effects of videogames and then fail to back up their claims with further information that validates their claims.

See post above. Where are all these video game studies that fail to back up their claims?

The problem is that many video games studies don't actually follow up with any other evidence. It's agreed, the study above does have evidence to back up their claim, but who funded their research? What did their research originally set out to find? The problem with many psychological studies is that they always try to find something that proves or disproves their theory and all other data is pushed into the sidelines so that their work doesn't look like a waste of time, especially when the press may become involved. There are many other variables for this study that we need to be made aware of, such as the ones I mentioned before. I'm always dubious when it comes to studies based on gaming but I do think that this one may have some relevance. But I still want to know more before I believe any of their claims.

I'm confused. This study seems to be saying "people who have a hobby that often limits human interaction might be less interested in or capable of human interaction. Also ASPERGER'S=VIDJAGAMEZ SCARE! Now I'm not trying to denounce the study or those who did it but the first conclusion seems pretty obvious if you accept that socialising is a skill, so it requires practice and doing less will reduce your skill level and interest in it.
I also think that the asperger's link is a bit loose and it's not just because I'm a videogamer whose brotehr has asperger's. Saying there are similarities between the effects of videogaming and asperger's is like saying there are similarities between fundamentalist christians and feminists because both dislike porn. Sure, but does it mean anything?

Strafe Mcgee:
The problem is that many video games studies don't actually follow up with any other evidence. It's agreed, the study above does have evidence to back up their claim, but who funded their research? What did their research originally set out to find?

I would challenge you to show me evidence of what you just stated as fact.

What studies have not followed up with evidence? Is it because of the researcher, or because you read it on a blog - and decided not to investigate further?

And if it's published and was funded, it's printed on the bottom of the publication - is it the researcher's fault that bloggers or newspapers decide not to include it? (For the record, if you see a study in a major newspaper, they usually state if its' a funded project. Not so much with the interwebs, apparently.) Odds are good that this wasn't funded by anyone - I think people outside the gaming research community (especially within psychology) vastly overestimate the amount of funded research going on.

Strafe Mcgee:
The problem with many psychological studies is that they always try to find something that proves or disproves their theory and all other data is pushed into the sidelines so that their work doesn't look like a waste of time, especially when the press may become involved. There are many other variables for this study that we need to be made aware of, such as the ones I mentioned before. I'm always dubious when it comes to studies based on gaming but I do think that this one may have some relevance. But I still want to know more before I believe any of their claims.

Again, if you're sick and tired of it, maybe you can show me some examples? Provide a study where game researchers deliberately "pushed data to the sidelines" because it didn't fit with their theory.

And what makes you so sure that there are many other variables for this particular study? Have you read the study? How do you know the authors didn't give participants the NEO-AC and ask their video game usage? That's all the study reported.

Questions like "But who funded it?" smack of people whose understanding of how research funding works is limited to second hand stories of crooked researchers working for US tobacco companies. You get funded to investigate phenomena - there's no guarantee that you'll show anything of value, much less prove some grantor's pet theory (which is what the "who funded it" questions imply).

So there's my challenge - back up your words with fact - show me psych studies involving games that do any of the things you claimed.

Saskwach:
Saying there are similarities between the effects of videogaming and asperger's is like saying there are similarities between fundamentalist christians and feminists because both dislike porn. Sure, but does it mean anything?

always the issue - correlation doesn't equal causation. Sometimes correlations are meaningful, and sometimes its just a relationship that emerges.

You've got the right thought about it, though - does it help us understand anything about the developmentally challenged? Or about game players? And if not, then why is the correlation significant to anyone? Armchair study without any theory behind it - which is why I disagreed with Strafe's post above. Part of the issue is correlations with a lack of theory behind it - you find things and are forced to explain it rather than evaluating what the relationship actually means. Bad science.

xMacx:

mshcherbatskaya:
I'd really love to have some info on their methodology for this, specifically their sample size, evaluation methods, and control groups, as well as the response from the researchers' scientific peers.

Sample size is in the original post and looks fine for what they're measuring.

Erf. I kin rede reel gud!

I can give you a likely response from some of their scientific peers - meh. It's a correlation between a self-selected behavior and several generalizable traits used to classify a spectrum disorder. More an interesting armchair finding than anything else.

mshcherbatskaya:
A lot of news stories that begin with some variant of the words "new study" fail to follow up with additional reports after the studies are disputed or discredited. I get particularly suspicious when the research seems to echo popular bias. Will there be a follow-up discussing the similarity between sports fans and people with impulse-control disorders? Artists and schizophreniform disorders?

I'm not following your sports analogies, but the best approach would probably be to follow up on your own. A new finding is interesting (hence newsworthy); scientists bickering over the validity of those findings is probably only interesting to those who are in the field or personally vested (not newsworthy). Can't blame the media for that one, really; if you're interested, follow up.

Re: The sports thing, it's not an analogy, more a snotty comment on studies built to confirm popular prejudices than anything. I can blame the media though, on these grounds: when reported in the media, these studies are often positioned in an article as discoveries, not as interpretations of gathered data, and there is generally no information on whether the study is considered credible, so again, it gives the public the impression that these are facts being reported from an accepted and reliable study, which often they are not. So the media flips up a headline, "New Discovery!", throws out some questionable info, and then leaves it there without coming back to report, "Oh, you know that thing we were all worked up about last week? Turns out it's kind of a load of crap--go figure! Those wacky scientists, always changing their minds." If the media is giving people an incorrect impression of the whole picture of the study, then I think I can fault the media for that.

It's true, my background is not in science, but I have had various studies flung at me based on any number of elements of my personality, lifestyle, habits, chemical intake, gender, etc. that, when I looked into them, turned out to be flawed or discredited. This is what makes me suspicious.

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