While it has long been suggested by some that violent video games may cause negative real-life behavior, a new study now claims that violent video games may actually make players more sensitive to violence in real life.
Led by Matthew Grizzard, an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, and co-authored by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Texas, this new study suggests that being bad in video games can lead players to think more about their real-life actions.
"Rather than leading players to become less moral, this research suggests that violent video-game play may actually lead to increased moral sensitivity," says Grizzard. "This may, as it does in real life, provoke players to engage in voluntary behavior that benefits others."
The study, titled "Being Bad in a Video Game Can Make Us More Morally Sensitive," says that being immoral in a video game can cause feelings of guilt, which can lead to pro-social behavior.
"We found that after a subject played a violent video game, they felt guilt and that guilt was associated with greater sensitivity toward the two particular domains they violated — those of care/harm and fairness/reciprocity," notes Grizzard.
He adds, "Our findings suggest that emotional experiences evoked by media exposure can increase the intuitive foundations upon which human beings make moral judgments. "This is particularly relevant for video-game play, where habitual engagement with that media is the norm for a small, but considerably important group of users."
The study surveyed 185 participants, who were randomly assigned to play a shooter game as a terrorist, or as a UN soldier. You can read more about the study on the University of Buffalo website
For more coverage of whether violent video games cause real-life violence, check out our extensive feature on video games and gun violence