Science! Video Game Violence Makes You More Sensitive

Science! Video Game Violence Makes You More Sensitive

After this thing the other week, here's some actual science proving actual things. Specifically: "'immoral' virtual behaviours in a video game can lead to increased moral sensitivity".

You can read the full abstract (via MCV/Polygon) below but the short version is that scientists across New York, Michigan and Texas universities tested gamers after playing a video game (in this case actually Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis) and found them more 'morally sensitive' and prone to guilt. It backs up previous research making similar conclusions and argues that games could have 'prosocial consequences'.

"Several researchers have demonstrated that the virtual behaviours committed in a video game can elicit feelings of guilt. Researchers have proposed that such guilt could have prosocial consequences. However, this proposition has not been supported with empirical evidence. The current study examined this issue in a 2×2 (video game play vs. real world recollection×guilt vs. control) experiment. Participants were first randomly assigned to either play a video game or complete a memory recall task. Next, participants were randomly assigned to either a guilt-inducing condition (game play as a terrorist/recall of acts that induce guilt) or a control condition (game play as a UN soldier/recall of acts that do not induce guilt). Results of the study indicate several important findings. First, the current results replicate previous research indicating that immoral virtual behaviours are capable of eliciting guilt. Second, and more importantly, the guilt elicited by game play led to intuition-specific increases in the salience of violated moral foundations. These findings indicate that committing "immoral" virtual behaviours in a video game can lead to increased moral sensitivity of the player. The potential prosocial benefits of these findings are discussed."

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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


    While I find this interesting, I do now, find myself hesitantly looking at ALL videogame reports from all sides. If we're quick to condemn ones that promote ideas that gamers promote violent actions via games, we should be just as hesitant to give approval of studies like this until collaborative ones have been done showing the same results.

    It's very interesting though, the results and a good counterpoint. But always look for the actual study name, the people involved, how big the focus group was, was there a control group etc. Not trying to sound lectury but I guess I'm getting jaded to studies from both sides.

      This is why I maintain that until games reach a point where we can no longer differentiate then from reality, we are just going to be statistically unaffected by games.

      If you can't tell the difference between a game and reality though all bets are off...

        I think that's fair, but it does pay to do the research in the meantime. I equate this to the beginning of the Cigarette smoking research times. There was a lot of misinformation handed out on both sides at one stage (even at one point where someone said smoking could lead to AIDS lol). Until more studies are done over a few more years by credible people with a less biased outlook towards things, we're kind of in 'the dark ages' if you get my meaning.

    now let's watch mainstream media ignore this story

      Yeah, let's watch the Kardashians and Jersey shore and grab a baseball bat and beat them hookers dead.

        I learnt how to do all that stuff using murder simulators

          GTA V ?

            nah, i think it's called Call Of Battlefield: Project Rapist

              I would have accepted Saint's Row IV too, as you can run around there with a giant dildo or an alien anal probe weapon.

                Sorry, I just got the answer from A Current Affair, because I'm an ignorant parent who doesn't bother to actually research facts, but instead bases their opinion solely on tv shows that trade in spreading fearmongering dramatics without any genuine basis for them. OMG, STOP THE TROLLS.

                ..... aaaaaand scene.

    So... when science shows a correlation between aggression levels and video games that's bad-science, but when it shows that video games can be somehow factored into the maturing psyches morality framework... that's legit.
    Intelligent, moral people are not influenced by video games. The problem is 99.9 percent of people are neither moral, nor intelligent. What needs to happen is the people from good homes, who have other options, need to stop projecting and framing the data purely from the perspective of "This game where I sell drugs, shoot cops, and kill hookers had not ill effects on me therefore video-games do not contribute to violence."
    Video games that create an atmosphere of "fun" around depersonalizing people into roles and brutalizng them do indeed have negative effects on a developing brain. What about the idea that the video game provides no motivation at all behind why your shooting at humans, and you just learn to follow blindly, is that a good trait to develop?

    personally I think violence in video games basically just enhances your own nature. Psychopaths will become even more crazy and insensitive. While people with empathy and compassion etc will become more sensitive to violence.

    "Video game violence makes you more sensitive" with a picture of a dead hooker in GTA3, is (or at least leads one to) a gross misinterpretation of the findings, as far as I'm concerned.

    Prior research showed that some games are capable of evoking feelings of actual guilt. This study builds on that by comparing the guilt evoked by one such game with that evoked by recalling a past event that made the participant feel guilty. It demonstrated that the guilt resulting from actions in the game was, while less powerful than that caused by actual events, still capable of causing the same pro-social effects.

    It doesn't mean beating a virtual hooker to death of your own volition makes you a better person IRL.

      So they basically found a way to link the feelings you might have about some of the things GTA5 made you do as Trevor with similar feelings you might have (albeit in a different scale) with doing the same thing in real life? Good stuff.

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