Does playing violent video games have an impact on behavior? Here’s what the latest study has to say

Many people think that playing violent video games is a bad idea because they are concerned that it will lead to an increase in aggressive behavior. As these games become more and more popular, some academics have expressed concerns. However, according to a new study, concerns about the psychological effects of violent video games may be unfounded. Participants’ hostility and prosocial behavior were largely unaffected by playing a violent video game every day for two months, according to the longitudinal study – a type of research that involves making observations of the same variables over time.

Most studies to understand the impact of violent video games on gamers have so far been inconclusive. Some have said that violent video games promote aggression, while others have not found such effects.

The study, published In Nature Publishing Group’s journal Molecular Psychiatry, previous research has focused on the short-term consequences of violent play, but these effects were “primarily the product of priming.” An increase in hostility after an hour of violent video gaming is one example of such an effect. This means that violent play made aggressive thoughts more accessible.

For the study, flyers and internet advertisements were used to recruit 90 healthy people. Participants included both college students and members of the general public. The announcement stated that participants were being recruited for a longitudinal video game study and a written agreement was obtained after a thorough explanation of the study. Participants, aged 18 to 45, spent two months playing the Grand Theft Auto V “violent video game”, the non-violent The Sims 3 video game, or no games at all. Before and after two months of play, their social behavior was assessed using questionnaires, behavioral measures of aggression, sexist views, empathy and interpersonal skills, constructs related to impulsivity, mental health and executive control functions.

“No significant change was observed, neither by comparing the group playing a violent video game to a group playing a non-violent game, nor to a passive control group,” concluded the study authors.

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