Playing violent video games cause people to exhibit more aggressive behavior, or become less emotionally responsive to violent images, previous research has indicated.
However, a new study has found that violent videogames do not desensitize players to negative situations or events.
Psychology researchers from the Ryerson University, Toronto, have shown that chronic exposure to violent video games (VVG) apparently has no significant impact on emotional long-term memory.
To analyze the link between VVG exposure and differences in players' emotional memory or their responses to negative stimuli, they studied 122 male and female undergraduate students.
The study participants were segregated into two categories. While 45 of them had some video game experience within the last six months, 77 students were not exposed to video games.
"Emotional long-term memory helps us avoid negative situations. This has significant implications for public health. For example, if you remember the negative experience of being involved in a bar fight, you will avoid future situations that may lead to an altercation," said lead author Holly Bowen.
The participants were shown 150 representing negative, positive and neutral scenes and an hour later shown the same material but mixed in with a new set of 150 'distractor' images in random order.
They were asked whether or not they had seen each image before and complete a self-assessment test regarding their state of emotional arousal at the end of the experiment.
The researchers hypothesized that video game players would be less sensitive to the negative images and therefore show reduced memory for these materials.
The results, however, showed no difference in the memory of video game players and non-players.
Moreover, exposure to video games was not associated with differences in self-reported arousal to emotional stimuli.
"The findings indicate that long-term emotional memory is not affected by chronic exposure violent video games," said Bowen.
The researchers, however, caution that further study is needed to see if these results would apply to all age groups and not just young adults.
The study was published online in the January issue of journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.