In light of the Atlanta, Ga. school shooting Thursday afternoon, here's one spot of bright news: researchers may have found a link between videogames and altruism.
In the online journal PLOS Online, they describe how just participating in an "uplifting" game can have a knock-on effect that manifests itself in positive ways. Up until now, most studies have proven the opposite, prompting President Obama to ask the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the link between gun violence and media.
Pacific Standard Magazine describes the 'Superman' experiment comprised of 30 men and 30 women:
Each was transported into a virtual world, but with two variations: Half flew over an abandoned city of their own accord, while the other half flew over it in a helicopter. Half the members of each group were merely looking around, while the other half were on a humanitarian mission: To find an abandoned child who desperately needed insulin.
Immediately after returning to reality, all the participants were instructed to wait while an experimenter put away some equipment. On cue, she “accidentally” knocked over a cup of 15 pens sitting on a table four feet from the participant’s chair. The researchers noted how long it took each of them to get up and help, and how many pens they ultimately picked up.
Interestingly, those who flew solo were quicker to help than the chopper passengers. They also picked up more pens.
As the researchers point out, just pretending to be like Superman—with all the superhero stereotypes intact—might inspire gamers to help in the real world.
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