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Becoming bad through video games
Date:8/4/2014

Previous studies show that violent video games increase adolescent aggressiveness, but new Dartmouth research finds for the first time that teen-agers who play mature-rated, risk-glorifying video games are more likely subsequently to engage in a wide range of deviant behaviors beyond aggression, including alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, delinquency and risky sex.

More generally, such games especially character-based games with anti-social protagonists appear to affect how adolescents think of themselves, with potential consequences for their alter ego in the real world.

The study appears Monday, Aug. 4, in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A PDF is available on request. The findings follow a 2012 Dartmouth study that shows such video games may lead teens to drive recklessly and experience increases in automobile accidents, police stops and willingness to drink and drive.

"Up to now, studies of video games have focused primarily on their effects on aggression and violent behaviors," says Professor James Sargent , a pediatrician and co-author. "This study is important because it is the first to suggest that possible effects of violent video games go well beyond violence to apply to substance use, risky driving and risk-taking sexual behavior. "

"With respect to playing deviant video game characters, we feel it best to follow the admonition of Kurt Vonnegut in Mother Night: 'We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be,'" says Professor Jay Hull, the studies' lead author and chair of Dartmouth's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.


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Contact: John Cramer
John.Cramer@Dartmouth.edu
603-646-9130
Dartmouth College
Source:Eurekalert

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