Friday, March 13, 2009

To be less helpful to others, watch violent media...

A sobering study from Bushman and Anderson:
Two studies tested the hypothesis that exposure to violent media reduces aid offered to people in pain. In the first study, participants played a violent or nonviolent video game for 20 min. After game play, while completing a lengthy questionnaire, they heard a loud fight, in which one person was injured, outside the lab. Participants who played violent games took longer to help the injured victim, rated the fight as less serious, and were less likely to "hear" the fight in comparison to participants who played nonviolent games. In the second study, violent- and nonviolent-movie attendees witnessed a young woman with an injured ankle struggle to pick up her crutches outside the theater either before or after the movie. Participants who had just watched a violent movie took longer to help than participants in the other three conditions. The findings from both studies suggest that violent media make people numb to the pain and suffering of others.


  1. Anonymous7:52 AM

    That is not a new study and it caused quite an uproar when gamers first got wind of it. I would also be wary of drawing such broad conclusions on the strength of the data gathered - seems more like somebody's bias came into play. Of course I realise I am biased in an opposite fashion.

    It is mentioned and addressed here among other places:

    The original study can be found here
    (since your interscience link is subscriptions-based)

  2. Anonymous1:25 PM

    It's interesting to consider the relationship of mirror neurons to this. For example, an fMRI study measuring neurological responses to a scene from "The Good The Bad And The Ugly," suggests that the same part of the brain is used to both see something as to actually do that something ourselves (in this case, raising a gun to shoot someone). So in a sense, when we are seeing something, our brains process it as actually doing that action ourselves.