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Violent Video Games Do Not Reduce Helpful Behavior, Study

Update Date: Jul 03, 2013 04:59 PM EDT

New research reveals no link between violent, antisocial video games and reduced pro-social behavior.

Australian researchers from the University of Queensland found that violent or antisocial video games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto do not reduce helpful behaviors in people shortly after playing.

In the study, participants played one of four video games for 20 minutes.  At the end of the test, a researcher pretended to drop some pens and looked at how many players helped pick them up.

Researchers say regardless of the game played, only about 40 percent to 60 percent of participants helped pick up pens at the end of the study.  In a second experiment, researchers found that participants were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior when pens were dropped halfway through the experiment rather than at the end of the game. Researchers found that 75 percent of participants helped pick up pens if they were dropped during the task, compared to only 31 percent who helped if researchers dropped the pens at the end of the experiment. Once again, researchers found that the type of video game did not influence the number of participants that help pick up pens.

Researchers say contextual differences in the design of this experiment could change the baseline rates of helpfulness observed.  However, researchers did not find a link between violent video game play and diminished helpful behavior.

"We fail to substantiate conjecture that playing contemporary violent video games will lead to diminished pro-social behavior," researchers concluded.

"Historically, failures to replicate in the field violent video game research have struggled for exposure. These studies highlight not only that intuitions about violent video games don't hold, but also that using the exact same procedures of past research doesn't reveal the same results," study author Morgan Tear said in a news release.

The findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE

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