New Study: No Link Between Games and Anti-Social Behavior

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New Study: No Link Between Games and Anti-Social Behavior

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The University of Queensland found that videogames probably won't turn you into an anti-social, introverted loner.

Researchers at the University of Queensland (that's in Australia) have found that there is no link between violent videogames and anti-social behaviors. The test had participants play either a violent or non-violent game, and then be subjected (unknowingly) to a pro-social test. Both violent and non-violent game players showed equal amounts of pro-social behavior.

The study comprised of three separate experiments, where 160 grad students were ask to play a selection of four games. The students, 55 percent of which were male, were aged between 17 and 43. The game's selected were Grand Theft Auto IV, Call of Duty: Black Ops (Zombies mode), Portal 2 and World of Zoo. The games were chosen because they were deemed to be anti-social, violent, non-violent and social respectively.

Later, the experiment was reduced to just Portal 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Gamers played their randomly selected game for 20 minutes, then answered a series of questions about their level of interest, frustration and arousal with the game. This was just a cover for the real test, which tested the gamer's willingness to pick up the researchers "accidentally dropped pens" at several points during the interview.

The third phase of the game had players play Lemmings, and its more violent clone Lamers and yielded similar results. The study concluded that, "Three experiments failed to find a detrimental effect of violent video games on pro-social behavior, despite using contemporary and classic games, delayed and immediate test-phases, and short and long exposures."

So to tell you something you probably already know, playing violent videogames won't suddenly turn you into a humanity-hating hermit.

Source: Gamespot

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Reminds me of the time they tested the amount of spicy sauce one would inflict upon another person after playing CoD for a while. That one went the other way.

I don't particularly see "Play X for a while and see how they do Y" studies as conclusive in regards to games. It doesn't cover long-term effects, it isn't a direct link and it's been unreliable in the past.

I mean, yay, add one to the list, but it's not some kind of mindblowingly scientific objective study that finally answers the question.

MeChaNiZ3D:

I don't particularly see "Play X for a while and see how they do Y" studies as conclusive in regards to games. It doesn't cover long-term effects, it isn't a direct link and it's been unreliable in the past.

Pretty much this, short term tests are all good and all, but a long-term study is what we need to finally confirm this.

Also:

Steven Bogos:

So to tell you something you probably already know, playing violent videogames won't suddenly turn you into a humanity-hating hermit.

Damn, so it's my fault then.

Maybe people who play violent videogames really are psychopaths, they just don't mind picking up a pen (possibly to stab someone with) when it is dropped?

The only conclusion I can draw from this study is that I now want to play Lemmings again.

Uh, with all due respect to the science folks, sitting at home for hours on end with the curtains closed and gaming away JUST MIGHT leave a mark on your social life.. just talking from experience..

So how many more "video games cause/don't cause X" studies do we need? We must be up to at least 30 in the last 5 years.

While every new pharmaceutical product that comes out and is smeared all over our TV via commercials expressly say that "The statements here have not been evaluated by the FDA and this product is not meant to treat, prevent, or diagnose any or all health problems" etc. "Side effects may include x, y, and z which may lead to sudden fatality" etc.

Shit that actually has been shown to negatively effect a large enough test sample for them to need to legally cover their asses gets a free pass, yet games are demonized and scrutinized and studied over and over.

And nearly every time games are found to be about as harmful as any other hobby, i.e. not very unless you spend WAAAAAY too much time at it. Like Korean Starcraft marathon "oops I forgot to eat and sleep for a week" time.

Caffeine will screw up your head more than videogames will from my own studies.

Agree with the above posters. This requires a long term study. Just speaking from personal experience, my extreme WoW days definitely took a toll on my social life and I know that was the reason why. When I would ignore friends so I could raid, there was a problem.

I'd like to see the other study that conclusively links pen retrieval to not being a sociopath.

Sadly, thanks to psychological effects like the Backfire Effect, people who already believe games cause violent behavior will not only ignore studies that debunk their position, but will feel their ideals are reinforced.

As usually happens with societal change, attitudes will change when the people currently in power move on, and those replacing them have better knowledge of the maligned subject.

Then again, it's good to have these studies being conducted.

As mentioned, seeing what people are like after playing a game for 20 minutes is missing the point, or deliberately constructing a strawman.

The issue is how culture (of which games are one part) affects people's attitudes towards violence.

I think the study they should be doing is the effects of internet forums on people's regard for their fellow man.

I was a nice little kid until I began having to deal with people on the internet. Or people in real life who were big 4channers. On the other hand, I also once worked in a restaurant which did not help at all. There are only so many dead baby jokes you can take in a day.

Have them compare playing Dota 2 with bots with a pub match, for example.

MeChaNiZ3D:
Reminds me of the time they tested the amount of spicy sauce one would inflict upon another person after playing CoD for a while. That one went the other way.

I don't particularly see "Play X for a while and see how they do Y" studies as conclusive in regards to games. It doesn't cover long-term effects, it isn't a direct link and it's been unreliable in the past.

I mean, yay, add one to the list, but it's not some kind of mindblowingly scientific objective study that finally answers the question.

SHHH.

Remember, the anti-games people have done the exact same shit to us over and over again. About time we had our own inconclusive, questionably obtained research in our favour.

sorsa:
Uh, with all due respect to the science folks, sitting at home for hours on end with the curtains closed and gaming away JUST MIGHT leave a mark on your social life.. just talking from experience..

It might leave a mark on your social life, but does it make you anti-social? I game and I am not very social, but I know the reasons why I game and I know the bulk of the reasons why I'm not very social. Gaming didn't make me less of a social person, slight difference there.

OT: As others have stated this is hardly conclusive. The same error as all the other research projects is present here when they observe short time effects. Maybe gaming does have negative effects, maybe it has positive effects, maybe there is a combination between the good and the bad. It's hard to say because who we turn out to be is the sum of our experiences. For any kind of psychological research the results should be taken with a large scoop of salt because of all the other factors that may have some effect on how we turn out which might not even be known to us.

As much as I believe video games aren't linked to violence or being antisocial, this study seems pretty poor. I mean play for 20 minutes and then gauge your willingness to pick up some pens? How does a person helping pick up pens tell you about their social behavior? It tells you how polite they are, but nothing about their social behaviour. That's hardly in-depth research. And It ignores the fact that a lot of gamers are going to be playing a lot longer than 20 minutes, and over the course of years.

While I do like that Video Games are a subject of such discussion and interest, I can't help but feel we aren't making the scientific progress in the field that researchers claim we are. I don't know of any studies that conclusively show one way or the other any actual social or psychological data. The fact that this study seems, outwardly at least, just as inconclusive, is a bit troublesome.

I do like that most people seem to be of this same mindset, but those who want to give this study a free pass worry me a bit. Yes, it would be all too easy to give this a pass and throw it in the anti-gaming agenda's face, but that does three different things to harm our side in the long run.

1. It shows the public that we have similar standards of "Facts" as our anti-gaming counterparts.

2. Once this argument is broken down, those who championed it before are stuck defending it.

3. Getting into the habit of jumping on an idea because it sounds good rather than judging it based on its' own merit will cause a genuine decrease in standards. And that is bad for everyone.

At least those are my two cents.

So playing Portal 2 makes you Obsessive Compulsive?

As an Australian, I am amused at the irony of this being conducted here.

Murder simulators help me to function as a normal human being.

*Adjusts Audrey pig mask*

This study is terrible, it sounds like something an undergrad psychology student would do for her bachelors thesis.

Gaming is often more social than anything, go into a classroom full of boys and find out who are the arseholes and who are the nice guys....but they all probably play video games, an ass is an ass no matter where you put him, they always shine the light on the douchebag yelling over the mic but never draw attention to the thousands upon thousands of youtubers with videos of them and a bunch of friends having a fucking wonderful time racking up millions of views, gaming is nothing more than something that can push someone into their true personality, a lot of people seem nice till you put them in a competition, then all hell breaks loose, it's not games it competition and winning that gets a lot of people, the ragers over the mic are usually from competitive games from over competitive people.

I think the people who play games and are "anti-social" (or perhaps just have social anxiety?) were such BEFORE playing games. I know I was. I'm an introvert by nature, I love having "me" time and I get very exhausted if I can't have time to myself.

Single player games are good for "me" time. I can be as utterly selfish as I want, practically consequence-free :D

Now, the games with an addiction factor to them (like WoW I guess?) are probably another matter entirely... but aren't they DESIGNED to make you want to keep playing them so you'll keep paying them?

thaluikhain:
As mentioned, seeing what people are like after playing a game for 20 minutes is missing the point, or deliberately constructing a strawman.

It's most likely an effect of the way research participation credit systems work in Australian universities. Not sure about grad level courses but in undergrad courses with a research participation requirement usually only need a small number of hours (3hrs for Level 1 Psych at Adelaide Uni) to fulfill those requirements. Given that there are usually dozens of research projects going at any given time, it makes demand for participants high. To prevent fistfights between project groups, most unis limit the amount of time any given project can utilise students needing course credit.

Plus, if this study originates from the School of Psychology, they'd had to have sold the Human Research Ethics Committee on the merits of the study to go ahead with it. They can get really touchy about shit if you're asking for too many research hours.

To be completely honest, though, this study sounds like something an undergrad student would throw together.

solemnwar:
"anti-social" (or perhaps just have social anxiety?)

You're confusing unsociable (the opposite of sociable, which relates to socialising) with antisocial (which means 'detrimental to society').

Steven Bogos:

So to tell you something you probably already know, playing violent videogames won't suddenly turn you into a humanity-hating hermit.

no, Humanity will turn you into a Humanity-hating hermit.

Chalk another one up in the column for "Studies That Show No Link Between Violent Games And Real Life Behavior."

And yet lawmakers and politicians still insist "We need more studies, MORE DAMNIT!" Granted, games have always been an easy target for politicians just looking to score points with their constituents by holding said games up as a straw-man to burn, but it really is silly how study after study after mother-lovin' study comes out saying "Nope, no link to be found" yet they still insist that games are to blame for things like the Sandy Hook shooting.

To put it in internet terms: Crazy person is Crazy. They didn't need games to make them crazy, they were crazy to begin with.

Kalezian:

Steven Bogos:

So to tell you something you probably already know, playing violent videogames won't suddenly turn you into a humanity-hating hermit.

no, Humanity will turn you into a Humanity-hating hermit.

I'd say that pretty much sums things up. :P

I'm positive there's a link, but I think it's the other way around. Being an "anti-social, introverted loner" makes you more likely to resort to gaming to seek fulfillment.

P.S. Thanks

I came here expecting to see what the title suggested. I already strongly believed that violent games don't make you anti social anymore than games in general might.

Nice to people turning in results but this kind of study isn't particularly conclusive. From the description it is both too limited in time and test subjects to make any firm statements about whether gaming can cause X or Y behavior patterns. Needs to be a long term study with a significant time investment in the actual playing of games. Twenty minutes is just not long enough to have a a really significant effect on the behavior of anyone. Also, the nature of the test subjects needs to be taken into account as well. I don't know about Australia but here in the US grad students tend to a much narrower spectrum of personality types than could be considered representative of the general population. So while I like the conclusion, I don't think I will be using it in any arguments to defend gaming until they have taken the next step and carried out a serious long term study with a wider range of test subjects and materials.

This test seems really shitty.

It doesn't cover lifelong gamers and I'm not sure that picking up someone's pen or not can really be the end all be all call to if you're anti-social or not :P

It would be like getting someone drunk once, checking that their liver didn't fail then concluding alcohol consumption does not cause liver damage.

Covarr:
I'm positive there's a link, but I think it's the other way around. Being an "anti-social, introverted loner" makes you more likely to resort to gaming to seek fulfillment.

I think this is more likely the case. People who are anti-social will seek alternative means of fulfillment. Gaming can provide that.

I wish our bumbling politicians would stop being dolts and blaming games for the number of shootings we've had in the States. Games are not the scapegoat, the dwindled quality of mental health care and the deinstitutionalization are two factors why this happens on a more frequent basis.

Covarr:
I'm positive there's a link, but I think it's the other way around. Being an "anti-social, introverted loner" makes you more likely to resort to gaming to seek fulfillment.

Yeah, this, absolutely. I think rather than being a cause, video games- like any kind of entertainment you can engage with by yourself and glut on- are only ever at worst a symptom of a much larger problem. Rather than picking on what the kids with stunted social skills do in their free time, why not focus on what makes them socially stunted to begin with and, I dunno, outreach a little?

Potential issue I see here (outside of the size and length of the study) that kind of invalidates the outcome. They only used grad students. These are people who are participating at higher social levels to begin with. There is no variance and no control group. The only thing this study proves is that Grad students who play video games for 20 minutes will pick up a person's pen provided said person is asking them questions.

"New Study"? I thought it was common knowledge.

I assume most people that visit this site play a lot of video games. So are you guys antisocial or not?

sorsa:
Uh, with all due respect to the science folks, sitting at home for hours on end with the curtains closed and gaming away JUST MIGHT leave a mark on your social life.. just talking from experience..

The anti-social behaviour they were testing for doesn't refer to having no social life or being an introvert, it means having little empathy for others and being more likely to engage in cruel or criminal acts.

OT: This study has been done many times before in different ways, the defining characteristic of this one is a somewhat larger sample size which gives it a bit more reliability but it's still a weak conclusion. On the other hand, one could just look at census data and market reports for game purchases to show that there's no correlation between increased video game consumption and violence.

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