Violent video games don’t always make us aggressive

June 8th, 2010 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 8 (IANS) Playing violent video games can make some adolescents more hostile, particularly those who have negative traits or are quick to anger. For others, it may offer opportunities to learn new skills and improve social networking.
Researchers reviewed several studies that examined the potential uses of video games as a way to improve visual/spatial skills as a health aid to help manage diabetes or pain and as a tool to complement psychotherapy.

One study examined the negative effects of violent video games on some people.

“Much of the attention to video game research has been negative, focusing on potential harm related to addiction, aggression and lowered school performance,” said Christopher J. Ferguson of Texas A&M International University.

“Recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behaviour problems, are less violent and score better on standardised tests.”

“Violent video games have not created the generation of problem youth so often feared,” adds Ferguson.

Conversely, one study in the special issue shows that video game violence can increase aggression in some individuals, depending on their personalities.

In his research, Texas A&M’s Patrick Markey, determined that a certain combination of personality traits can help predict which young people will be more adversely affected by violent video games.

“Previous research has shown us that personality traits like psychoticism and aggressiveness intensify the negative effects of violent video games and we wanted to find out why,” said Markey.

Markey used the most popular psychological model of personality traits, called the Five-Factor Model, to examine these effects.

The model scientifically classifies five personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Those traits are: high neuroticism (eg easily upset, angry, depressed, emotional), low agreeableness (eg little concern for others, indifferent to others feelings, cold) and low conscientiousness (eg break rules, don’t keep promises, act without thinking).

Markey then created his own model, focusing on these three traits, and used it to help predict the effects of violent video games in a sample of 118 teenagers, said a release of the American Psychological Association.

Video games serve a wide range of emotional, social and intellectual needs, according to a survey of 1,254 seventh and eighth graders.

These findings were published in the Review of General Psychology.

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