Violent Gamers Immune to Pain -- of Others

More scholarship suggests playing violent video games makes one - get ready to have the song stuck in your head, too - "comfortably numb" to others in pain and less likely to help them.

Two professors cooked up a study in which 320 college students were given violent and nonviolent video games to play. After about 20 minutes of play, they overheard a staged fight that ended with the loser suffering a sprained ankle and groaning in pain.

You know where this is headed - those playing the unnamed nonviolent game rushed to aid more quickly, an average of 16 seconds, compared to those playing the unidentified violent game, who took 73 seconds to help out. Hell, maybe they were grinding away for some headshot achievement. "Ice it and elevate it, I'll be over there right after I cap this guy - another 20 times."

The researchers also staged a similar event in which adult moviegoers watched violent and nonviolent movies. After a while, they staged a false emergency outside the theatre. Bingo, nonviolent film goers rushed to see what was the matter faster than the violent movie buffs, by an average of 26 percent.

Prof. Brad Bushman, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan who has studied and criticised violent video games before, was one of the researchers. "These studies clearly show that violent media exposure can reduce helping behavior," Bushman said. "People exposed to media violence are less helpful to others in need because they are 'comfortably numb' to the pain and suffering of others, to borrow the title of a Pink Floyd song.

The study appears in the March 2009 issue of Psychological Science.

Study: Violent Games Make Players "Comfortably Numb" to Suffering of Others [GamePolitics]


Comments

    What a stupid study.. for "smart" people they really are incredibly dumb. It comes down to the sort of person you are.. character is everything, not what type of video game you're playing lmao! I love violent games more than the next person but if someone needed my help then theres nothing stopping me from pausing lol Prof Brad Bushman; you sir are stupid - and when "studies" are conducted by biased researchers then not only do their outcomes, but their opinions become useless and unreliable. Its a fact.

    And surely they needed to control for the involvement level of the games being played. Most non-violent games I've played are easy to pause, stop etc. Some violent ones can get pretty hairy at times, and people (being people) may just feel less inclined to die in-game just to go watch/stop a fight between 2 people they don't know..

    Just saying

    Damn... the problem with this is they are focusing on the wrong issue. It doesnt matter if the person wathes or plays violent video games. What they should have tested was the attributes of the persons upbringing, their current mental state. Develop a system to measure the subjects 'numbness' to the suffering of others. Look at WHY the person like enjoys violenct video games. Deeper physcological issues are obviously present here. They are looking at the problem in reverse. Its not the game, its the person.

    Like we all know. like we've know for ages. There has to be a stop the debate on this defunct issue.

    Jay K:
    its the person influenced by the game.

    I love games, and don't want them banned, but I also have big enough eballs to admit that violence has an effect on people.
    guess what, you take two blank slates fresh out of a skinner box and give one a dark room and madworld and the other a love of playing backgammon or painting, and the one who plays violent videogames will be violent, or do you guys believe americans have american accents by coincidence?
    remember how in the late 80's / early 90's philip morris denied denied denied that nicotine was addictive or causes cancer?
    videogame companies don't need to lie about the harmfulness of their product.
    players do that instead.

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