Sunday, August 7, 2016
The study in question, conducted in Italy and published in the online journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, looked at how violent video games influenced post play morality in teenagers. The researchers recruited 172 high school students (aged thirteen to nineteen) and separated them into two groups. The first group was tasked with playing a violent video game. The second group was given nonviolent games to play. After both groups played the games, they were directed to complete a logic test, and every time they achieved a correct answer they were allowed to remove a raffle ticket from a bag. The teens were left alone in a room to do this, and upon completion of the study the researchers found that those who had played violent video games prior to taking the logic test were eight times more likely to remove more than the one raffle ticket from the bag when they correctly completed a section on the logic test.
The authors noted that the teens who showed signs of 'moral disengagement' were the most affected by playing violent video games. Moral disengagement is the ability to remove oneself from the normal rules of morality in certain situations because, in the view of the people who show this trait, morality does not apply in certain situations. The teens with this trait were much more likely to steal after playing a violent game. A nonviolent game did not trigger as large a discrepancy between the two groups.
A study like this is perfect fodder for one of those media frenzies mentioned earlier. According to the study, the teens, especially those who score highly on "moral disengagement" scales were more likely to take extra raffle tickets; to steal, essentially. At the very least, to cheat. Not good, right? Obviously the violent video games are having a negative effect, one that was not seen to the same degree in the group that played non violent games. Seems like an open and shut case on the face of it. Except it's not. At all.