Here comes a shocker. Contrary to popular perception that playing violent video games makes people aggressive, a new study says playing such games may actually lead to increased moral sensitivity and pro-social behaviour in real life.
Committing immoral behaviour in a video game elicits feelings of guilt in players and such guilt can lead them to be more sensitive to the moral issues they violated during game play, the findings showed.
“Rather than leading players to become less moral, this research suggests that violent video-game play may actually lead to increased moral sensitivity,” said Matthew Grizzard, assistant professor at the University at Buffalo in the US.
“This may, as it does in real life, provoke players to engage in voluntary behaviour that benefits others,” he added.
Researchers induced guilt in participants by having them play a video game where they violated two of five moral domains — care/harm, fairness/reciprocity, in-group loyalty, respect for authority, and purity/sanctity.
“We found that after a subject played a violent video game, they felt guilty and that guilt was associated with greater sensitivity toward the two particular domains they violated — those of care/harm and fairness/reciprocity,” Grizzard said.
The study appeared online in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.