Failure to Demonstrate That Playing Violent Video Games Diminishes Prosocial Behavior

Morgan J. Tear, Mark Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background:Past research has found that playing a classic prosocial video game resulted in heightened prosocial behavior when compared to a control group, whereas playing a classic violent video game had no effect. Given purported links between violent video games and poor social behavior, this result is surprising. Here our aim was to assess whether this finding may be due to the specific games used. That is, modern games are experienced differently from classic games (more immersion in virtual environments, more connection with characters, etc.) and it may be that playing violent video games impacts prosocial behavior only when contemporary versions are used.Methods and Findings:Experiments 1 and 2 explored the effects of playing contemporary violent, non-violent, and prosocial video games on prosocial behavior, as measured by the pen-drop task. We found that slight contextual changes in the delivery of the pen-drop task led to different rates of helping but that the type of game played had little effect. Experiment explored this further by using classic games. Again, we found no effect.Conclusions:We failed to find evidence that playing video games affects prosocial behavior. Research on the effects of video game play is of significant public interest. It is therefore important that speculation be rigorously tested and findings replicated. Here we fail to substantiate conjecture that playing contemporary violent video games will lead to diminished prosocial behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere68382
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

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