Violent Video Games Can Make Kids Nicer, Study Claims

Although the video game-violent behavior link has been debunked time and again, a few people still stubbornly insist on the myth that violent video games can turn gamers into school-shooting monsters. However, a new study might change their minds once and for all. Scientists from the University of Buffalo found out that morally abject behavior found in video games can actually cause immense guilt on gamers, turning them into nicer human beings in real life.

According to Science Daily, researchers discovered that gamers who performed objectionable actions inside a video game made them more morally sensitive about the particular behavior they performed. As a result, gamers thought and acted in more morally acceptable ways to indirectly compensate for what they did inside the video games.

Researcher Matthew Grizzard, who co-authored the study, said:

"Rather than leading players to become less moral, this research suggests that violent video-game play may actually lead to increased moral sensitivity. This may, as it does in real life, provoke players to engage in voluntary behavior that benefits others."
According to him, the guilt experienced after every objectionable video game behavior contributed to the gamers' real life moral sensitivity. The conclusion implies that the violent video game scenarios are contributing to the development of gamers' pro-social behavior.

Grizzard said:

"We suggest that pro-social behavior also may result when guilt is provoked by virtual behavior,"
The study involved observing and directing gamers while they played a particularly violent video game. The video game induced the participants to violate two of five moral domains found in the game: care-harm, fairness-reciprocity, in-group loyalty, respect for authority, and purity-sanctity. Here are the findings, as stated by Grizzard:
"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. The first includes behaviors marked by cruelty, abuse and lack of compassion, and the second, by injustice or the denial of the rights of others.

"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."

Aside from moral values that can be developed through "bad" video games, previous studies have found that the constant play of video games contributed to cognitive enhancement among elderly people.

[Image from Rebecca Pollard via Flickr]