Violent Video Games Linked to Aggressive Behavior
WebMD News Archive
The second study was designed to show a more short-term relationship between
aggression and video violence. More than 200 college students played either a
violent or nonviolent video game (Wolfenstein 3D or Myst, respectively). The
games have similar difficulty levels, so frustration could be ruled out as one
cause of aggression. The students played the games three times, in two separate
sessions, about a week apart.
After the students played the video games for a third time, they played
another game in which they had to set up a blast of noise that their opponents
would hear if they lost. Those who had played the violent video game set the
noise blast to last longer than the others, which the researchers interpreted
as being more aggressive. Women displayed higher levels of hostility and
aggression than did the men.
"We now know for a fact that playing a violent video game for even a
short period of time increases aggressive behavior in the short term," says
Anderson, who recently testified before the U.S. Senate on the impact of
"interactive" violence on children.
Leaving aside extreme examples like the Littleton shooting, Anderson says
that the way people learn to react to conflict can show up in day-to-day life.
"I think the message I'd like to give the average parent is that when kids
-- adults as well -- play violent video games, it makes them at least
temporarily think about the world in more aggressive terms," Anderson tells
Anderson's colleague, Dill, tells WebMD that video games can affect behavior
because they require participation. "Video games offer direct rewards for
acts of violence," Dill says. "Thus the player learns that violence is
the desired response to conflict situations."
Anderson and Dill "have executed the best study of video game violence
to date," says David A. Walsh, PhD, president of the National Institute on
Media and the Family. At the same time, he says, more studies need to be done
before we can claim there is a cause-and-effect relationship between video game
violence and real-life aggression.