08 July 2013

Violent video games don't reduce helpful behaviour

Violent or antisocial video games do not appear to reduce helpful behaviours in players shortly after playing, according to research from the University of Queensland, Australia.


Violent or antisocial video games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto do not reliably reduce helpful behaviours in players shortly after playing, according to research published July 3 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Morgan Tear and Mark Nielsen from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Participants in the research played one of four video games for 20 minutes. At the end of the test, a researcher pretended to drop some pens and assessed how many players helped pick them up. Regardless of the game played, only about 40-60% of participants helped pick up pens at the end of the study.

In a second test, they found that participants were more likely to exhibit the helpful behaviour when pens were dropped half-way through the experiment rather than at the end of the exercise. 75% of people helped pick up pens if they were dropped during the task, compared to only 31% who helped if the pen-drop exercise occurred at the end of the experiment. Again, the type of video game did not influence the number of participants that helped pick up pens.

Based on these results, the authors suggest that contextual differences in the design of this experiment could change the baseline rates of helpfulness observed, but they did not find a correlation between violent or anti-social video game play and helpful behaviour. The paper concludes, "We fail to substantiate conjecture that playing contemporary violent video games will lead to diminished prosocial behaviour."

Tear adds, "Historically, failures to replicate in the field violent video game research have struggled for exposure. These studies highlight not only that intuitions about violent video games don't hold, but also that using the exact same procedures of past research doesn't reveal the same results."






Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.