Violence Affects Biological Systems

In the study boys aged twelve to 15 were asked to play two different video games at home in the evening. The boys’ heart rate was registered, among other parameters.

It turned out that the heart rate variability was affected to a higher degree when the boys were playing games focusing on violence compared with games without violent features. Differences in heart rate variability were registered both while the boys were playing the games and when they were sleeping that night. The boys themselves did not feel that they had slept poorly after having played violent games, the researchers noted.

According to the scientists, the results show that the autonomous nerve system, and thereby central physiological systems in the body, can be affected by playing violent games without the player becoming aware of it. It is too early, though, to draw conclusions about what the long-term significance of this sort of influence might be, they say.

What the researchers found important about this study is that they have found a way, on the one hand, to study what happens physiologically when playing video or computer games and, on the other hand, to discern the effects of various types of games.

It is hoped that it will be possible to use the method to enhance the knowledge of what mechanisms could lie behind the association that has previously been suggested between violent games and aggressive behaviour. The researchers also hope the method can be used to study how individuals are affected by playing often and for long periods, which can take the form of so-called game addiction.; Source: Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council)