Reseachers: Violent video games increase agression

Written by: 
Jeff Facer ~ Multimedia Journalist

Research has shown that more aggressive people are more prone to be more aggressive after playing violent video games. However, researchers have also found even some exposure changes people's behavior.

Psychologists Craig A. Anderson Ph.D., and Karen E. Dill Ph.D., from Iowa State University, reported, “One study reveals that [those] who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games.”

Another study was cited in which students played either a violent or nonviolent video game for a minimal amount of time. When the game ended, the victor was allowed to give a noise blast of their own choosing to their opponent. At the end of the experiment, Anderson said, “the students who played the violent game punished an opponent for a longer period of time than did students who had played the nonviolent video game.”

Hannah Higginson, a sophomore studying elementary education, from California, said she was asked if she liked to play video games. “I like to play Super Smash Brothers. It’s my favorite game of all time and I kill at it.” Higginson said when asked if she felt her behavior changed when she played the game, she said, “I get really aggressive and physical when I play it, more so than sports. No one should be surprised if I chuck the controller at the T.V.”

Despite studies showing that violent video games increase aggression in human behaviors, studies haven’t proven that violent video games have a direct correlation to crime. The New York Times reported in February, “A burst of new research has begun to clarify what can and cannot be said about the effects of violent gaming. Playing the games can and does stir hostile urges and mildly aggressive behavior in the short term. Moreover, youngsters who develop a gaming habit can become slightly more aggressive — as measured by clashes with peers, for instance — at least over a period of a year or two.”

It continues, “Yet it is not at all clear whether, over longer periods, such a habit increases the likelihood that a person will commit a violent crime…”

“I don’t know that a psychological study can ever answer that question definitively,” said Michael R. Ward, an economist at the University of Texas, Arlington, in the New York Times article. “We are left to glean what we can from the data and research on video game use that we have.”

However, video games do alternate a person’s attitude and personality. In a study reported on the Science 2.0 website, it says playing video games does make players eat more and cheat more.

“Playing violent video games not only increases aggression, it also leads to less self-control and more cheating,” according to a paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science. The researchers found teens who played violent video games “ate more chocolate and were more likely to steal raffle tickets in a lab experiment than were teens who played nonviolent games. The effects were strongest in those who scored high on a measure of moral disengagement – the ability to convince yourself that ethical standards don't apply to you in a particular situation.”

The article goes on to quote Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, who said, "When people play violent video games, they show less self-restraint. They eat more. They cheat more. It isn't just about aggression, although that also increases when people play games like Grand Theft Auto."

The researchers studied “172 Italian high school students, aged 13 to 19. They played either a violent video game (Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) or a nonviolent game (Pinball 3D or MiniGolf 3D) for 35 minutes, after practicing for 10 minutes. During the experiment, a bowl containing 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of chocolate M&M candy was placed next to the computer. The teens were told they could freely eat them, but were warned that high consumption of candy in a short time was unhealthy.

Those who played the violent games ate more than three times as much candy as did the other teens, the result showed.”

Cody Myers, a sophomore studying business management from Texas, had a different point of view when he was asked how people change their behavior who play violent video games. “First of all, I think video games in general make you a little house rat,” said Myers. “But I also feel it more affects your speech and how you talk than anything else.” Myers clarified his point by explaining how gamers use headsets to speak to each other.

Euihyun Kil, a junior studying mathematics from South Korea, said, “I don’t think video games give a positive feeling. I played violent games and I always wanted to do better than everyone else, and when I didn’t I was a lot more fierce.” Kil continued saying his own mother took notice of his apparent aggression when he played his violent video games.

An increase of aggression is inevitable when people play or even associate themselves with violent video games. Psychologist Craig A. Anderson said, “Even a brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants.”