Science Confirmed! Violent Videogames Won't Make You Less Empathetic, More Aggressive
A team of researchers from Germany revealed that exposure to violent videogame will not desensitize or make players more aggressive in the long-run.
Their findings, described in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, showed that the negative effects of violent videogames to empathy and aggression could be short-lived and will have no influence later on.
"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," said lead researcher Dr. Gregor Szycik of the Hannover Medical School, in a press release.
For the study, the researchers recruited 15 males who have played violent videogames for an average of four hours daily in the past four years. These participants have played first-person-shooting videogames in the past, including Call of Duty and Counter Strike. The researchers also enrolled a group of non-gamers that served as the control. The participants in the control group had no previous experience in violent videogames and did not play videogames regularly.
Both the gamer and non-gamer groups were asked to answer a psychological questionnaire and undergo a functional MRI scan. To ensure that the gamer group won't experience short-term negative effects of the violent videogames, the researchers asked them to refrain from playing for a minimum of three hours before the experiment started.
During the fMRI scans, the participants were shown a series of images designed to provoke emotional and empathetic response. As the participants view the images, they were asked to imagine how they would feel in the depicted scenarios. While the participant is undertaking the fMRI, the researchers measured the activation of specific brain regions using the MRI machine.
The researchers then compared the psychological questionnaires and fMRI of the both groups. The researchers observed that the psychological questionnaires showed no differences in the level of empathy and aggression between the gamer and non-gamer groups.
Surprisingly, data from the fMRI showed that gamers and non-gamers have the same neural responses to the emotionally provocative images. This indicates that both groups experience the same emotional response to the stimuli, suggesting that the negative effects of violent videogames on perception and behavior may be short-lived.