Playing relaxing video games can make people happier and kinder, says a new study.
"With all the evidence about the dangers of violent video games, it's good to know that game players can choose games that will provide a positive experience," said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
Bushman along with Jodi Whitaker, a doctoral student in communication at Ohio State and the lead author on the study, conducted two studies.
In the first, 150 college students were assigned to the participation in a study of different types of computer games. They were randomly put to play one of three types of games for 20 minutes: a relaxing game, a neutral game or a violent game.
They then participated in a reaction time task where they were told that they were competing with an unseen other player (actually, there was no other player). The goal was to see who could push a button faster when prompted.
The results showed that participants who played a violent video game were more aggressive than those who played neutral or relaxing games.
In the second study, very similar to the first one but tougher, the researchers experimented with 116 different college-student participants.
After playing a violent, neutral, or relaxing video game for 20 minutes, participants completed a questionnaire that measured their mood and they were given some pencils for sharpening. The number of pencils that participants chose to sharpen was used to measure pro-social behavior.
Results showed that people who played the relaxing video games chose to sharpen more pencils than those who played a violent video game.
The study appeared online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and is set to be published in a future print edition.