A new study by researchers from Ohio State and Central Michigan Universities finds that simply thinking about playing violent video games can stimulate violent behaviour long after your game console has gone cold, unless you're a girl.
Anyone who has ever played a multiplayer shooter on Xbox Live can attest to the fact that participating in such games makes the player more aggressive and more apt to call other players' mothers names. We could try to refute this fact, but all researchers would need to do is join a Halo: Reach matchmaking session to prove us wrong. It's a point we're going to have to give them.
Brad Bushman of The Ohio State University and Bryan Gibson of Central Michigan University had a selection of volunteers play one of six video games for a period of 20 minutes. The games ranged from violent titles like Mortal Kombat to more casual games, such as Guitar Hero.
Once the short game sessions were over, half of the players of violent games were asked to spend the next 24 hours thinking about how they could play the game more effectively. The other half were left to their own devices.
The next day Bushman and Gibson tested the aggressiveness of study participants. The casual game players tested fine. The folks who played violent games but didn't think about them tested fine. The men who pondered violent games after playing them showed a higher tendency towards aggressive behaviour than all of the other groups.
Note that I said men. Women who pondered the violent games they played did not show increased aggression, outing men as the inherently violent animals we are. Note that is my language there, and not that of the researchers.
What does it all mean? The study shows that if you think about better ways to shoot or maim people all day, you're going to have some aggression issues, unless you're a woman.
Should we be worried? I'd say men should definitely be worried, as this means women can spend all day thinking about killing you without you being any the wiser. Think about that the next time you come up with a witty answer to the age old question, "Do these pants make me look fat?"