Violent games = violent people

By Gracie Valena - 26 May 2011 16:24:0 GMT
Violent games = violent people

It takes only common sense and knowing a child who plays violent video games to know that such games increase aggression. So it isn't suprising that according to a recent study ''scientists have known for years that playing violent video games causes players to become more aggressive.'' However, until now, there was no concrete experimental proof that put the relationship into a crystal clear box.

Now, researchers from the University of Missouri have designed an experiment to test whether playing video games such as 'Call of Duty,' 'Hitman,' 'Killzone' and 'Grand Theft Auto' really does increase aggression. And according to them, ''the brains of violent video game players become less responsive to violence, and this diminished brain response predicts an increase in aggression.''

The procedure was pretty simple. The researchers let 70 young adults play either violent or a nonviolent video game for 25 minutes.

After that, they were tested on two levels: brain responses to neutral or violent images were measured; and they were made to take part in an activity that required them to 'hit' their opponents with a blast of noise that they could control.

In terms of the brain responses, the researchers found that participants who were habitual game players were not affected as much by the violent images as those who don't play such games.

And for blasting enemies with noise - it isn't surprising at all that those who played violent games set their noise blasts much louder than those who played non-violent games.

Researcher Bruce Bartholow of the University of Missouri said in a press release that ''More than any other media, these video games encourage active participation in violence.'' He added, ''From a psychological perspective, video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behavior is violence.''

The press release cites that ''the average elementary school child spends more than 40 hours a week playing video games - more than any other activity besides sleeping. As young children spend more time with video games than any other forms of media, the researchers say children could become accustomed to violent behavior as their brains are forming.''

Bartholow is joined by Christopher Engelhardt, a graduate student in the MU Department of Psychological Sciences, and researchers from The Ohio State University and VU University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The article, ''This Is Your Brain on Violent Video Games: Neural Desensitization to Violence Predicts Increased Aggression Following Violent Video Game Exposure,'' is to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.