New Study Connects Violent Games With Lower Self-Control Among Teens

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New Study Connects Violent Games With Lower Self-Control Among Teens

Grand Theft Auto III screen

A new study has found that teenagers who play violent videogames are more likely to cheat, behave poorly toward others and eat lots of chocolate.

A team of researchers from the U.S., Italy and the Netherlands recently put 172 Italian high school students aged 13 to 19 through a series of experiments designed to determine how violent games affect their personalities. The experiments began, as they so often do, by having the teens play either a violent game (Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) or a non-violent game (Pinball 3D or Minigolf 3D), but this time the researchers also gave each player a bowl of 100g of chocolate. They were told that they could eat as much as they wanted while they played, but were also warned that it's unhealthy to eat so much chocolate in such a short time span. (For comparison purposes, the average-sized chocolate bar is around 45-50g.) Those who were playing violent games ate more than three times as much chocolate as those who played the non-violent games.

After playing, the teens were given a ten question logic test, with a raffle ticket that could be exchanged for prizes awarded for each correct answer. Once the questions were answered, participants were given an envelope full of tickets and told to take the correct amount; however, those who played the violent games took more than their allotted number of tickets more than eight times as often as those who played the non-violent games. A third test involved playing the games against an unseen (and, in fact, non-existent) "partner," who could be subjected to loud blasts of noise through headphones whenever the participant beat them in the game. Those who played violent games subjected their partners to longer and louder bursts of noise than those who played the non-violent games.

Participants were also given a number of questions that ranked them on a "Moral Disengagement Scale," which found that "of the participants who played the violent videogames, those who scored higher on the Moral Disengagement Scale were more likely to act aggressively, cheat and eat more chocolate."

"We have consistently found in a number of studies that those who play violent games act more aggressively, and this is just more evidence," said Dr. Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University and one of a relatively few number of researchers willing to commit conclusively that games have a deleterious effect on players. "Very few teens are unaffected by violent videogames, but this study helps us address the question of who is most likely to be affected. Those who are most morally disengaged are likely to be the ones who show less self-restraint after gaming."

The correlation of bad behavior with those who play violent videogames and score highly on the Moral Disengagement Scale is interesting, but it also leads to obvious questions about what the real causative factor is here, and unfortunately nothing is said about the behavior of those who scored highly on the scale but played non-violent games. Bushman did state that both males and females were negatively affected by violent gaming, but noted that girls "didn't reach the level of the boys in the study."

Source: Medical News Today

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This is so small of a test I can't really find it valid. :/ Not even 200 "test subjects", and I can find other issues with what I've read. Heck, 13-19 year olds can already have bad influences from before the study, so that in and of itself can mar the test results, since it seems they have not checked the background of each student they "studied."

Not suprising at all. After any competative experiance I'd imagine somebody to act more aggresively.

I don't knwo how the entire test was done, but how long after gaming were the kids asked all those questions? In the heat of the moment responses say nothing of how the person will react once the gaming-high is gone. Also, being in the mindset of playing an action heavy game no doubt has an effect on personality, that's why all media has any kind of effect whatsoever. The connection to long term aggression is null here. Also, some cross-controls seem to be lacking, and the sample size is kind of pathetic.

I am not seeing the words "scientific", "academic", "peer-reviewed" or "statistically-relevant sample size" anywhere here...

I'm sure there's potential for a comment on nationality here but I won't make it.

I'd also wonder how the participants would respond if they had just played a competative sport. Or even Magic the Gathering. I've seen tempers flare a lot while playing that game.

With studies like these, they don't take into account other behavioral influence factors such as home-life (parenting or lack thereof), family financial class and also family medical and mental history. Without those factors, there's no way to prove its solely gaming that affects the child's development.

Silly people, you shouldn't eat messy/controller smudging food while playing anyway!

my god, they ate more chocolate than they were supposed to? who will stop these immoral fiends?!

but let's be real here, even with that factoid, i'd just take the rest of the chocolate anyway to snack on later

Isn't Ohio State University known for their research? Like, they're probably close to the top ten in America, aren't they? If so, how come the shitty testing procedures? And the wild conclusions? This is the kind of project they'd give you in elementary school to teach you how the scientific method works. And it got published in an actual science journal? Bringing a couple kids in to play video games and eat chocolate for a a couple hours doesn't count as a study. I'm going to disregard anything from the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal from now on. I'll remember the name. It's going on my blacklist, right between Tom Cruise and Apple.

Oh hey, another one of "these" studies. Considering there was a previous study saying there was no connection, I wouldn't be surprised to see ANOTHER study saying the opposite of THIS study...

THE CYCLE CONTINUES!

So? If you bore the teenagers, they won't eat as much chocolate and won't get a sugar high?
To many variables for a scientific research. And I'm pretty sure that the teenagers would have been able to point that one out.

I'm pretty sure you could get similar results by getting one group to play monopoly while another plays trivial pursuit.

TV affects people in the same way. Show half Die Hard, and the other half some film with absolutely no confrontation and you'll see similar results.

Violent games make people steal raffle tickets? Won't somebody think of the village fete!?

You know what I find rather interesting is that the studies on the subject seem split along this line:

studies on short term effects ( get test subject to play violent game, measure immediate afterward effects and compare to someone who played a non-violent game ) often do find these links.

studies on longer term effects ( get test subjects, question them about gaming habits, measure various effects and compare those that game a lot to those that don't ) never seem to.

Which I guess means that gaming does affect one's mood but not one's personality?

LordOfInsanity:
This is so small of a test I can't really find it valid. :/ Not even 200 "test subjects", and I can find other issues with what I've read. Heck, 13-19 year olds can already have bad influences from before the study, so that in and of itself can mar the test results, since it seems they have not checked the background of each student they "studied."

The so called "tests" these hacks did are already invalidated, as it's been shown repeatedly by much more reputable, much more intelligent sources that the "sound blast" tests are about as accurate as trying to shoot a bee on the other side of the world with a normal slingshot and a square cube too big to be used in said slingshot.

As for the chocolate? Let's think about it for a second. If you're going to the theaters and watch a really exciting action flick, how much more likely are you to consume a lot of snack food during the course of it, without realizing it? Now, lets go watch a movie about a glacier moving across five feet of ground, and see how much you'd eat without thinking afterwards. The games are so wildly dissimilar as to make them incomparable. "Minigolf 3D" is the kind of shovelware crap most kids wouldn't be interested in, and are far less likely to actually play the game than the kids who are actually playing, I don't know, fun games. Had they thrown in some decent, cheap games like Peggle or the like, I'm sure the numbers would be more even.

And the ticket test? If it can even be called that, is so far from useful as to be funny. They don't bother to try and attempt to explain why any of the kids in the "nonviolent" category did anything that the kids in the "violent" category are supposedly more likely to do. I wouldn't be surprised if some mild amount of profiling was done on these... "researchers" part to artificially control the results. It wouldn't be the first time people have purposefully altered and interfered with the tests in order to get the result they desired.

Best part is, the article is getting torn down in the comments and ratings anyways. Anyone with a lick of statistical knowledge and basic psychology (and even physiology) could point out the various idiocies in the study.

Okay, is it me, or is the guy in the picture Steve Martin from Little Shop of Horrors?

As others have mentioned the lack of certain terms (such a peer-review, statistically significant sample size, etc) is a little concerning but the follow bit disturbs me a bit more

Andy Chalk:
A third test involved playing the games against an unseen (and, in fact, non-existent) "partner," who could be subjected to loud blasts of noise through headphones whenever the participant beat them in the game. Those who played violent games subjected their partners to longer and louder bursts of noise than those who played the non-violent games.

The methodology is a little too close to the Milgram experiment[1] for my liking. Makes me wonder how they got IRB approval for that... or if they even did.

EDIT:

Not to mention that the study only focused on short-term behavior. Which is silly. Given the wealth of research into psychological priming[2] that indicates that immediate behavior can be affected by what sort of picture is hanging in the room (statistically, people in a room with a picture of violent sport tend to give more aggressive responses than people in a room with a picture of bowl of fruit or potted plant). Further a violent video game will be a more adrenaline producing situation than a non-violent video game so, YES in the immediate aftermath of a play session this may hold water.

But short term behavioral changes happen all the time. Did you know that people that get cut off in traffic tend to show more aggressive and impulsive behavior than people that don't?

I'm waiting for the study that actually checks these things, say, a week later.

I mean, yes: you can probably find more aggressive, risk-taking or less self-controlled behavior in people across a wide spectrum after playing a violent video game; it wouldn't surprise me if you got the same result after watching an intense action film or listening to an hour of heavy metal or some of the more aggressive types of rap. People have been known to indulge in these things because it makes them feel more powerful and reckless. That doesn't say anything about how they behave at school the next day.

Besides of the fact that this experiment doesn't make much sense by itself, and that its results are certainly applicable to any other kind of media (say violent movies, rap music, heavy metal, etc)...
I should point out that eating chocolate makes you better at playing videogames, also drinking coffee, and inspiring music (it can be anything from rap, to metal, even classic orchestra)... Also keep your legs up in your chair/couch it helps for circulation....

Well i totally got off-topic with that....

Uhhh...Aren't pretty much all teenagers rude, prone to cheating and just generally dickheads?
That's like saying 'A study proves that straight male people from 18 to 25 years old are having sex at some point'

That's like the standard.

Frostbyte666:
I'm pretty sure you could get similar results by getting one group to play monopoly while another plays trivial pursuit.

Hell, I say you get stronger results out of Monopoly.

OT: Well, looky here. Another hair-brained 'I want to look smart and important' study on violent video games with a very weak premise and still no behavior that you can correctly say the games MAKE people do anymore than they'd do themselves under any other circumstances. Honestly, some half-baked international study trying to make itself look big and forgetting the scientific process...AGAIN

*Shakes head*

I'll be in mah bunk.

So this study does not state the cause of those behaviors?

So this study means nothing. Furthermore, they dare state that "Very few teens are unaffected by violent videogames"

See those two statements.

1. Teens who have less than average self control enjoys violent videogames.

2. Teens who enjoys videogames have less than avg self control.

Now, those two.

1. Wrinkles are caused by an old age.

2. Old people are caused by wrinkles.

See where the logical fallacy lies?
It is hard not to see biased opinion of this study. Just because you've found a relationship between two things that does not mean one of them are the definite cause of one of those problem.

I wish that they try to disprove this.
image

P.S: German marketing capcha that has something to do with Mastercard. Really? I've never even visited that place!

Didn't we already agree this wasn't and never was the source of violence? Why are people still on this?

Pirate Of PC Master race:

P.S: German marketing capcha that has something to do with Mastercard. Really? I've never even visited that place!

You're getting it too?!? I couldn't post! I had no idea what it wanted me to do!
You're also in Canada, weird.

OT: I do actually believe that gaming will directly affect ones mood afterwards, but I don't believe there are really any long term effects of any note. I mean I've watched sad movies that had me feeling for the rest of the day, or read some really insightful philosophy that had me pondering for an afternoon. Or seen a comedy that lifted my spirits for awhile.

Experiencing hours of violence will probably affect some people directly afterwards.

SILENTrampancy:
Didn't we already agree this wasn't and never was the source of violence? Why are people still on this?

As long as the Government and Politicians are both stupid enough to keep asking for it, and using these studies to show 'they care'. respectively, they will always be on it. And it's not like a majority of these "researchers" really care. You throw them 10 million to "CHECK BAD GAMEZ!", then they'll spend maybe up to $1,000 for the games, buzzers, and chocolate while the rest gets tucked into their pockets.

I wouldn't say video games aren't the source of violence though. There is a major difference between causation (which this guy is saying with his shit study), and correlation. Video Games can, like nearly every other violent piece of media, indirectly increase aggressive behavior over a short-term period. However, it does not directly influence people to commit said aggressive behavior, at least without the existence of much more important factors.
There is a near 100% Causation rate between Mental Illness, lack of school intervention with bullies, poor parenting, and school shootings.
There is some Correlation between school shootings and violent games, or music, or movies.

Yet the media, and lower still the schools and parents, don't want to accept the blame. Schools don't want to man up and accept the fact that they do nothing to curb bullying (I've seen several rather... excessive examples of this in the schools I've gone to). Parents refuse to accept the blame by refusing to believe the fact that they left loaded weaponry freely available for even a baby to grab, or allowed a kid who wasn't mentally developed enough to play a game, to play said game. And Fox News would rather ignore the existence of mental illness in any of these issues, so they can instead boost their own ratings by screaming out "VIDEO GAMZ AN' MANSON!" all day long for a week straight.

SILENTrampancy:
Didn't we already agree this wasn't and never was the source of violence? Why are people still on this?

People will always be trying to find a causal link between violent entertainment and violent behavior, because they don't want to admit that sometimes people do bad things for no reason whatsoever. It's also so parents can continue to blame anything other than themselves for the bad behavior of their kids. These studies will never prove that violent entertainment causes violent or any other sort of behavior, but I think people will keep trying pretty much forever regardless.

Studies like this one are designed to falsify and skew evidence reach a particular conclusion and then pass that off as "evidence" that the conclusion is correct, not to accurately prove anything. If it wasn't, they'd find as many people of backgrounds as similar as possible to each other, psychologically evaluate each of them, single out the ones that are as close as is humanly possible to each other, put them on a controlled diet for several weeks, THEN run a test like this. Maybe then the results of the test might actually have some merit.

LordOfInsanity:
This is so small of a test I can't really find it valid.

You know, numbers similar to this have been used in other studies not about gaming without any controversy. I think this is looking specifically to call it invalid, much in the same way people accuse media of being "biased" when something they don't personally agree with is reported.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing more (but notinherrently larger) study on this, but I think a better criticism is:

Phrozenflame500:
Not suprising at all. After any competative experiance I'd imagine somebody to act more aggresively.

Indeed, how does this compare to other, "normal" activities? In itself, seeking to find the aggressive results of a certain activity isn't negative, but expression of such a thing in a vacuum is at issue, especially since these studies tend to be in response specifically to political pressure from one group or another.

And no, that doesn't mean they're biased, but it may mean the findings will be used in such a way.

Do games promote bad behaviour more than, say, sports? Will roughhousing ("boys will be boys") have a similar impact? Does other media lead to the same behavioural effects?

One thing about tests is thatt they're likely to be repeated. Will the results be?

rees263:
I'm sure there's potential for a comment on nationality here but I won't make it.

I'd also wonder how the participants would respond if they had just played a competative sport. Or even Magic the Gathering. I've seen tempers flare a lot while playing that game.

Yeah that's something you never hear spoken about. How does the great all American football effect aggression? I'd bet money that it causes, at least for a time, aggression. But the perception of football is good so the fact that it has the chance of being a hostile enviroment to put your kids in, can lead to serious long-term injury or even be fatal, that doesn't matter. I'm not saying football is bad, it can be a very fun thing for kids and teens to do and can lead to healthy qualities, phsyically, emotionally, and mentally, developing in a person, but you have to acknowledge it's drawbacks as well.

And what's so wrong with aggression anyways? Everyone gets aggressive now and again, there's nothing inherently wrong with it. I hate this culture that's developed where kids and teens are not allowed to feel anything other than neutral all day long. If they're happy, they're on drugs or they're up to something, if they're angry or aggressive they're obviously going to end up on a clock-tower with a shotgun, if they're sad they need immediate anti-depressants and suicide watch.

"it's unhealthy to eat so much chocolate in such a short time span"

It's unhealthy? Oh my, I had never thought about it... that will completely destroy the possibilities of me eating FREE CHOCOLATE EVER AGAIN!

What's this study? And why does the title fits so perfectly the stupid nature of it all? Poorly behaved kids will be like that whether they play games or not, and cheating? I've been playing games since I was a kid, including the "awful awful" GTA 3 by the time I was 10-12 and I don't cheat, nor behaved poorly back then.

Could there be a connection between... parenting and the kids behaviour? Nah forget it, it was just a stupid idea.

Let's consider the following:
Diet
Genetic predisposition
Societal norms and role assignment (based on geography, class, gender, etc)

And then there's parenting, my personal favorite. Because a video game or TV show are more influential in a pubescent human's life than their guardian(s). Never mind that too many parent's are bad at saying "no", how about not placing your child on a pedestal, or not teaching them that they are the exception and that the world revolves around them?

Yeah naw, I'm sure video games shape behavior WAY more than bad parenting by self-adulating morons that want to be irresponsible permissive pals rather than responsible parents.

Next up, Pac-Man, and it's link to obesity!

Pirate Of PC Master race:
So this study does not state the cause of those behaviors?

So this study means nothing. Furthermore, they dare state that "Very few teens are unaffected by violent videogames"

See those two statements.

1. Teens who have less than average self control enjoys violent videogames.

2. Teens who enjoys videogames have less than avg self control.

Now, those two.

1. Wrinkles are caused by an old age.

2. Old people are caused by wrinkles.

See where the logical fallacy lies?
It is hard not to see biased opinion of this study. Just because you've found a relationship between two things that does not mean one of them are the definite cause of one of those problem.

I wish that they try to disprove this.
image

P.S: German marketing capcha that has something to do with Mastercard. Really? I've never even visited that place!

And there's a brilliant graph to explain how pointless any of these studies are regardless of conclusion. These guys could have had the opposite result, the opposite conclusion and I would still say it wasn't good enough. A person is more than just the kind of media he or she might be enjoying.

However increased aggression while playing violent games... is anyone going to dispute this? That's a given. When we activate our sympathetic nervous system that's simply what happens to us. Adrenaline pumps through the body, heart rate increases (I won't mention all functions) and we get ready for either fight or flight. This happens when we mentally prepares ourselves to really push ourselves physically such as before we're going to lift weights or sprint. If you measured my aggression at the gym you'd see it going in waves, peaking 10 seconds before I start a set, plummeting when I finish a set. Does exercise cause aggression? Short term yes, long term? I don't know.

Can we rule out video games as a factor? No. Can we blame one single thing? No. I repeat this so many times regardless of what a study concludes, but I see that all the protests here about methods, peer reviewed and size are usually absent when the conclusion is that games are awesome and not harmful. We accept studies that confirm what we want to be true showing we are essentially no better than the politicians who blame video games whenever someone gets shot.

Frostbyte666:
I'm pretty sure you could get similar results by getting one group to play monopoly while another plays trivial pursuit.

Oh my god, I love this example. Another great game to use would be Diplomacy(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomacy_(game)). This game has the potential to end in fist fights, lol.

Oh and I find it funny they used a modified Milgram Experiment(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment) in here. Fail.

the eating chocolate part of the experiment is pointless. humans are hardwired to eat more if they are distracted its mainly what the snack food industry counts on. they could of gotten the same results from sticking just about anyone down in front of their favourite non violent tv show and stuck a bowl of chocolate there.

and using a modified version of the milgram experiment is dodgy to say the least

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