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."
"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."