Gamer aggression grows against strangers - Study

University of Missouri research indicates male players experience spike in testosterone when defeating those they don't know, dip when beating friends.

As it turns out, killing a friend in a game can actually be kind of a downer. Such are the findings of a new study out of the University of Missouri in Columbia, led by evolutionary psychologist David Geary. As reported this week by the New Scientist, Geary's study found that male gamers who defeated opponents they did not know experienced a surge in testosterone, but putting bullets in friends caused levels of the hormone to fall off.

This guy? He ain't your buddy.

To conduct his study, Geary put out a call for 42 male students at the University of Missouri. The students, who did not know each other, were divided into 14 groups of three. Each segment was then tasked with practicing Epic Games' top-rated frenetic first-person shooter Unreal Tournament 2004 for six hours over a weeklong period, in order to establish familiarity with teammates.

Teams were then pitted against one another in 30-minute Onslaught matches, a capture-the-flag variant. When matches were completed, Geary and his colleagues found that testosterone levels dramatically rose in members of the winning team, especially those who contributed most significantly. However, in Death Match matches, where each team was pitted against itself, researchers found that the highest-ranked player saw a significant drop-off in testosterone levels.

"In a serious out-group competition, you can kill all your rivals and you're better for it," Geary said of the study's findings. "You can't alienate your in-group partners, because you need them." The study also indicated that multiplayer games trigger the same biological instincts as actual warfare, where heightened testosterone-induced aggression can be beneficial.

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Discussion

293 comments
BaLLz_ON_FiRE
BaLLz_ON_FiRE

Where were they when I was playing Gears of War and God Of War hum?! Suddenly someone woke up and saw the world how it actually is WOW congratz ...

TXMostWanted
TXMostWanted

Either way, I **** talk people when I blow 'em up in Halo. The only thing is, I ACTUALLY get angry when a stranger just wails on me. But I laugh when it's a good friend...so this study makes sense to me

aznballer91
aznballer91

Killing ppl you don't know makes you feel so much more superior because you feel that you can take down anyone and not just your friends. En plus, killing friends isn't as humiliating or satisfying than pwning a random noob >:]

madman608
madman608

Yeah, it's gonna feel a little awesome when you get a triple kill. This shouldn't be surprising.

okassar
okassar

Of course. Back when Gears of War (1) came out,I remember downing people and thrusting around their behind while swing-slapping them with my smoke grenade,eventually sticking the smoke grenade in them and gang them up with my team who stick more smoke grenades in. rooooofl,good times,too bad you can do that with GoW2,but I guess you can take someone hostage now and thrust them against the wall ;) When I kill my friends in a game,it's just more competition and less humiliation.

faithxvoid666
faithxvoid666

@Hyrdrolix What you read was an article discussing the research, not the actual research itself. In fact, I couldn't find it, even after looking through several databases that deal in peer reviewed research. So, it might be safe to say that it hasn't even been released in a journal as of yet. This means that nobody can be sure of the method in this experiment, although judging by his previous work and credentials(i.e. being on the Nation Board of Directors in the U.S. Department of Education), you'd have to be pretty gutsy to just write off his work as that of some hack. As far as the sample size is concerned, most(and by most I mean well over 75%) studies deal with smaller sample sizes to test initial hypotheses since it's very hard to get a sampling that properly represents all demographics. Contrary to your statement, quasi-experimental designs are, in fact, incredible useful to the scientific community.

XXMadManVII
XXMadManVII

Another pointless study.... get this guys... you get excited when your team wins... WOW earth shaking...

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

@thisisreallybor I actually read the other article and not just the GS one about it. I get what the purpose of the test was, but without a control group of some kind this just can't be taken as a serious study. Now if it is just a prelim to a larger more focused and better designed test that's one thing...as is...it's not worth much for real science.

padzstarr458
padzstarr458

theres nothing better than joining a friends free for all.and stalking them with the nife i love it

burn6
burn6

nice one. i think the ultimate input of this study to gamers, is that games are indeed is a stress buster activity specially the PvP in online games. and i agree, pawning strangers in PvP really lits up my day.

YellowJello
YellowJello

uuh, I don't know who they were studying on, but they must not have been very frequent gamers.

thisisreallybor
thisisreallybor

@Hydrolix You don't need a control group when you're basis of comparison is not the "normal" people. Control groups are designed to make sure an experiment is compared to the average person, but this study is trying to find out gaming friends vs. gaming foes. Also, 42 collegiate males do not represent an "average" population either. But I agree with the drinking/smoking (no you didn't mention smoking, but that's def. involved) @BanEsteR Gamespot. They are conducted by the experimenter, and he makes money by writing excellent articles and establishing himself more as an evolutionary psychologist. More established + better articles = Name and article on gaming website.

AIRWALKTDK666
AIRWALKTDK666

Im the other way round whenvr i kill a mate i just abuse them but when i kill strangers theres just not the same satisfaction, you can't watch their faces.

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

This is a terribly unscientific study. Where's the control group? 42 people are you kidding? What about other factors? When I'm gaming online I've usually been drinking and don't give a crap...how does that factor into their experiment.

BanEsteR
BanEsteR

who funds these studies really?

Targzissian
Targzissian

Message of study: Don't hurt the people you rely on for your survival and support. But it's fine to (virtually) kill strangers, and it feels good too.

CardiacKid07
CardiacKid07

That explains some of the trash talking.

armorbreaker
armorbreaker

:lol: interesting, so that's why people sends hate mail?

darklight4
darklight4

people are more agressive to strangers huh. well guess what who cares

grungeman91
grungeman91

Does anybody remember the old saying "it's just a game"?

Neogenic
Neogenic

That reminds me. Please do not tell me your name. It takes all the fun out of beating you. We don't like strange folks around these parts!

Delius
Delius

[quote="DiscGuru101"] And in other news, stars are shinny. [/quote] lol that about sums it up.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

And in other news, stars are shinny.

Xtos89
Xtos89

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

selbie
selbie

No need for a study. Even I could have figured that out.

bennae66
bennae66

i find the comparison to war instincts interesting. im sure the country of your choice loves the fact that you play violent games. if anything nasty happens, perhaps we are less likely to flinch

snarl2
snarl2

Ya ya... tvs ruin your vision, video games make your brain turn into mush! Ya, whatever, just give me a controller!! ;)

Frenoir
Frenoir

in nascar 09 beating the people i know is more of a thrill because i know how to push there limits and try to get them to screw up but when im playing halo i prefer to kill strangers but i dont know maybe its different when it comes to sports games and raceing games then when you play shooters i dont know this is just one gamers observations

campbell153
campbell153

wow... some people have way too much time on there hands to be making a study like this! GET BACK ON YOUR ******* XBOX AND GET READY TO DIE STRANGER!!!

sieg6529
sieg6529

I tend to get more aggressive with strangers online. I tend to mellow out against friends.

education
education

So whats the deal if you have a rivalry in a game with your friend? Lets say hockey for example... my friends and i are always playing it. And its more of a thrill to beat one of them than it is to beat a stranger online.

prioritymail
prioritymail

Very interesting. Come to think of it, I do find that when I'm playing against friends online I don't enjoy it as much as winning against strangers.

Lach0121
Lach0121

@westernomelette i agree, i think we should learn more about everything.. knowledge is key.. and i also agree on the feelings... i have been gaming over 20 years, but i have no urge or feeling to go out and shoot someone, or steal their car, or call in an "airstrike", i dont want to hurt anyone in real life., but i do it everyday in a game. you see it in movies, read it in books, but these arent real, these are emulations. games are no different. so i feel that the more people know about things, the better things will be. and eventually we may get rid of the biased led research the world works on today and throughout our history...

westernomelette
westernomelette

As a dual psych/sociology major myself I think it is good that we study the effects of video games as they continue to raise in popularity as a form of entertainment and as our primary outlet. I have to admit it does feel kind of good when you're playing counterstrike with a bunch of friends and owning another team, you get an adrenaline rush and that is what makes games like that so popular. I don't think it is a knock to games to study them, we should know as much as we can. The feelings might be a step in the same direction as warfare, but I have to believe that it is still a long way off and no more than a real game of football brings on testosterone. Competition period brings on intense feelings. Dodging bullets in halo or tackles on a field is a lot different than when a soldier goes to Iraq to doge them for real.

skullboy950
skullboy950

Nobody likes strangers. :p This would be a good time for Nintendo to get rid of Friend Codes so we can make more friends online rather than being forced to play with strangers with no communication with other players.

queen_vee
queen_vee

Kind of pathetic when you think about it...

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

scientist 1: should we find a cure for cancer scientist 2: no, lets make a study about Gamer aggression

Knight95007
Knight95007

Wow this could result in higher fertility rates among young males.

kakashi552
kakashi552

"...multiplayer games trigger the same biological instincts as actual warfare, where heightened testosterone-induced aggression can be beneficial."~~now that's insane!

OwnageGuy
OwnageGuy

imo it's just awesome when u kill a lotta stuff/people/monsters

Shiftfallout
Shiftfallout

Notice the first part "evolutionary psychologist". In the science field, these people are in a completely different world. Their whole approach is based off a series of assumptions including those found with the Triune brain theory. You cant take the "scientist" then seriously, since he conclusion is the product of bias and assumption regarding evolution, the human brain, and the Triune theory.

SpookyJack
SpookyJack

In that case, I wonder what happens to male gamers who play Hannah Montana - The Game? Why don't they make a study about that? I think they'll spot the upcoming child-molesters easily...

Blade8Aus
Blade8Aus

makes sense although i dont really find this interesting and i dont really care

kamizuka
kamizuka

very true read the fanboys comments

Lightsyde
Lightsyde

The cooperative way is the manly way.

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

okay... this is a stupid study you think about this a game is a game.. a sport is a game as well meaning that "higher" testosterone level means competitive spirit... trash talking is normal in competition... i dont understand why they have to single out video games... stupid study from university of missouri...

DeadDuckz
DeadDuckz

dont care who i kill as long as theres someone to kill