Video games and prosocial behavior: A study of the effects of non-violent, violent and ultra-violent gameplay

Morgan J. Tear, Mark Nielsen

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Experimental evidence has pointed toward a negative effect of violent video games on social behavior. Given that the availability and presence of video games is pervasive, negative effects from playing them have potentially large implications for public policy. It is, therefore, important that violent video game effects are thoroughly and experimentally explored, with the current experiment focusing on prosocial behavior. 120 undergraduate volunteers (Mage = 19.01, 87.5% male) played an ultra-violent, violent, or non-violent video game and were then assessed on two distinct measures of prosocial behavior: how much they donated to a charity and how difficult they set a task for an ostensible participant. It was hypothesized that participants playing the ultra-violent games would show the least prosocial behavior and those playing the non-violent game would show the most. These hypotheses were not supported, with participants responding in similar ways, regardless of the type of game played. While null effects are difficult to interpret, samples of this nature (undergraduate volunteers, high male skew) may be problematic, and participants were possibly sensitive to the hypothesis at some level, this experiment adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that violent video game effects are less clear than initially thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral priming
  • Prosocial
  • Social behavior
  • Video game violence

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