By now everybody has heard about the supposed link between violent videogames and real-life aggression. A lot of researchers have sunk time and effort into either disproving or proving this theory, so until now we don't really have anything definitive. A new study by researchers from Huddersfield University, however, is calling this supposed link into question.
The study was set up like this: 30 participants, aged from 18 to 45, were asked to play three different game genres - a FPS, a driving game (Project Gotham Racing) and a 3D table tennis game - on an Xbox 360. They were measured for changes in their physical responses (EEG, breathing and heart rate) and mental responses (aggression) before and after playing.
The researchers, Dr Simon Goodson and Sarah Pearson, found that no, violent games like first-person shooters don't actually cause players to get more agitated and aggressive than usual. In fact, the researchers found that it induced the least change in heart rate and brain activity. You might be surprised at what caused the greatest change, though.
Their findings indicated that the driving game induced the greatest change in heart rate and brain activity and the FPS induced the smallest change. Yep, according to the study, driving games actually cause gamers to become more aggressive. I guess road rage also exists in virtual highways.
Here's what the researchers had to say about their findings:
Previous researchers have made sweeping generalisations about the nature of videogames. This study is one of the first to use one of the latest games consoles that have a much higher level of realism. Surprisingly the results showed that the driving game made participants more agitated and aggressive than the game with graphic violence. Given the high levels of realism in modern games a re-evaluation of the relationship between videogames and violence is needed.
Makes you think, huh? The study will be presented at the British Psychological Society s Annual Conference today.
A similar study presented during the BPS Annual Conference last year by Miss Jane Barnett and her colleagues at Middlesex University also found that people who play violent games online actually feel more relaxed and less angry after they have played. There were still differences depending on sex, age and personality, though.
Conversely, a study conducted in the United States and Japan late last year found that violent games DO make people aggressive. The thing to note here however is the age group that the study focused on: 9 to 18. Compare that to the 18 to 45 that was used in the Huddersfield study. Age was also one of the factors that influenced the findings of the Barnett study. Impressionability, perhaps? Feel free to share your thoughts about this in the comments section below.
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