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University Survey Taps Carmageddon For Violence Tests

A new psychological study by Iowa State University researchers Nicholas L. Carnagey and Craig A. Anderson indicates that different consequences for video game violence le...

Nich Maragos

December 2, 2005

2 Min Read

A new psychological study by Iowa State University researchers Nicholas L. Carnagey and Craig A. Anderson indicates that different consequences for video game violence lead to different mental states in the controlling players. The study was published in Psychological Science, as "The Effects of Reward and Punishment in Violent Video Games on Aggressive Affect, Cognition, and Behavior." "Given the similar nature of violent video games and violent television programming," says the study in reference to a 1960s study regarding TV, "it is reasonable to suspect that rewarding violent actions in a game could also increase aggression." What Carnagey and Anderson were most concerned with, however, was the reverse situation: "Reward for violence should increase aggression in video-game players, as it does in television viewers, but although punishment of violence decreases aggression in television viewers, it may not necessarily do so in video-game players." To find out, Carnagey and Anderson conducted three experiments, all based around three different rulesets for Carmageddon 2: one where players are rewarded for killing either pedestrians or opponents, one where players are punished for killing, and one where killing is not possible. Subjects were randomly assigned one of the three game variants to play, and in each of the three experiments completed a different form of survey to indicate their aggression levels. In their writeup of the results, Carnagey and Anderson found that "Experiment 1 showed that playing a violent video game, regardless of whether the game rewards or punishes violence, increases aggressive affect relative to playing a nonviolent video game. However, Experiments 2 and 3 showed that playing a game in which violent actions are punished does not produce significantly more (or less) aggressive thought or behavior than playing a nonviolent version of the same game."

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Nich Maragos

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Nich Maragos is a news contributor on Gamasutra.com.

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