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article imageViolent video games have no effect on antisocial behavior

By Tim Sandle     Mar 9, 2017 in Science
Another study on video games and violence has been undertaken, this time looking at whether games with more violent content influence the ability of the gamer to be empathetic towards other individuals. The answer is: no impact.
The new study considered the relationship between playing video games rated as having a violent content with antisocial behaviors, such as a rise in aggression and lower levels of empathy.
To assess the emotional impact of playing violent video games, German scientists used the technique functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess long-term players of video games. The brain scans (focusing on the activation of specific brain regions) were compared with non-game players, while two groups were asked to view images designed to increase an emotional response. Each of the subjects in the two groups were male. With the gamers, heavy usage was defined as playing around two hours per day over a two-year period. With the definition of violent games, this included the titled ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Counterstrike’.
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The outcome was that the gamers recorded the same neural response to the emotionally provocative images as the non-gamers. From this, the researchers concluded that empathy is not reduced through playing video games with a violent content over the long-term.
The reason for the study was due to recurrent reports in the media about the influence of violent content upon human behavior. Often when an act of violence occurs, such as a shooting, the history of the perpetrator is analyzed and, if it was found out he or she played video games of a certain type (or watches movies with an element of violence), then an inevitable newspaper heading follows.
There have been some studies that suggest people who view violent game content regularly become desensitized towards emotional stimuli (such as violence), as well as exhibiting decreased empathy and increased aggression. Where these studies are flawed, the new research argues, is through only focusing on the short-term. If people are assessed immediately after an intense gaming experience they probably show a different emotional response than they might several hours later. This is the reason why the new research, from Hannover Medical School, looked at the longer-term effects,
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Gregor Szycik: “the research question arises first from the fact that the popularity and the quality of video games are increasing, and second, we were confronted in our clinical work with more and more patients with problematic and compulsive video game consumption.”
The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, with the paper titled “Lack of Evidence That Neural Empathic Responses Are Blunted in Excessive Users of Violent Video Games: An fMRI Study.”
More about Video games, Violence, Ratings, Psychology, Youth
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