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Study: Violent Games Don't Affect "Stable" Personalities

We're not sure how much more evidence it's going to take before the anti-game freaks call it quits, but it certainly keeps coming.

According to ars technica, a paper currently in press at Psychology, Crime & Law has provided some valuable insight regarding the connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior.

The authors of the study point out that there have been a combination of studies involved in the past; some do indicate a connection, others show no connection, and even a few that hinted at the possibility of gaming actually reducing aggression. In this study, measures of anger levels acted as a proxy for violent behavior. They used a total of 125 children (110 boys and 15 girls) with a mean age of 14.6 years, and tested their "anger levels" along with applying personality profile tests. Then, they let them engage in 20 minutes of gaming with Quake II, after which, they went and tested the anger levels again.

Upon conclusion of the study, the researchers found their participants were separated into three clear groups. 77 of the 125 subjects remained unchanged after the game time, the anger level nearly doubled in 22 of the subjects, and 8 of the subjects experienced a reduction in anger level. But that wasn't the end of things; the most important aspect of the study was still to follow. They took those numbers and cross-referenced them with the personality profiles, and as it turns out, that showed a clear pattern: most all of those with "stable" personalities ended up in the unaffected group, while the other two groups were populated by less stable personalities.

Therefore, the authors believe that gamers fall into two groups. One group holds gamers with stable personalities, and they are largely unaffected by playing video games. The other group consists of those with "emotional states," and are much more likely to be influenced by playing games. The latter group's reaction to a game tends to depend on their "emotional state" when they first begin to play. Ironically enough, it appears that those who start playing angry actually cool down, while initially calm gamers experience rising anger and aggression levels. Finally, the researchers made one thing very clear: only 2 of the subjects reached an anger level that might be cause for concern, so they conclude that dangerous anger levels are "rarely triggered by gaming."

Like any good group of scientists, though, they admitted this one study doesn't end the debate. They would like to see further experiments that deal with different games and different test groups. One last tidbit of information: they attempted to study several other factors with this study, but their measurements produced statistically insignificant data. But even so, it appears they achieved their primary goal, and we couldn't possibly agree more: it comes as no surprise to us that stable individuals are unaffected by gaming (even if it's a violent game), and it's also no surprise that those who are "less stable" tend to be influenced by certain video games.

In fact, that sounds darn logical, doesn't it?

4/3/2007 Ben Dutka

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