Killing Strangers in Deathmatch Boosts Testosterone

| 1 Oct 2009 09:55

We all get a rush when defeating our foes in deathmatch, but according to a study that rush is different depending on if those foes are our friends.

A recent study completed by David Geary, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, concluded that gamers get more of a testosterone rush when they defeat complete strangers rather than friends. This may seem obvious to a hardcore gamer because of how much better it feels to kill a bunch of random strangers, but the study shows actual chemical differences within the test subjects' bodies that are quite interesting.

Videogames turn out to be the perfect focus for this sort of test, because other competitive events such as sports will naturally raise testosterone levels. Videogames are far less physically exerting, as long as a Wii, Dance Dance Revolution, or GameCube bongos are not involved. To conduct the test, Geary took 42 male students and divided them into three groups of 14. Each group practiced Unreal Tournament 2004 for six hours a day for a week, which obviously formed a bond between the members of the groups.

Geary then had the groups face each other in 30 minute matches of Onslaught, with cash incentives for the winners. When the separate groups played against each other, the winners' testosterone levels spiked, particularly within the highest ranked players. The subjects then played Deathmatch individually against members of their own groups. The winning members of these Deathmatches had even lower testosterone levels than the players that performed the poorest in the previous matches.

According to Geary: "In a serious out-group competition you can kill all your rivals and you're better for it." However, defeating members of your own group doesn't make sense, even when establishing a social hierarchy, as he says "you can't alienate your in-group partners, because you need them." These results mimic that of actual warfare, perhaps lending credence to the Karmapa Lama's theory that games satiate aggression. This study may bring us a little closer to understanding why some people get so much enjoyment out of killing random strangers.

Via Kotaku

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