Study: Gamers show autistic traits

Researchers find that game addicts display some negative personality traits commonly associated with Asperger syndrome.

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SIDEBAR: It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that gamers whose habits border on the realm of addiction are likely to be a little neurotic, introverted, and socially disagreeable. However, it does take a scientist (a pair of them, actually) to survey hundreds of gamers, find the same traits, and then point out that the same characteristics can be found in people with the developmental disorder Aspergers syndrome.

Dr. John Charlton of England's University of Bolton and Ian Danforth of Walla Walla, Washington's Whitman College jointly announced their findings at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Dublin, Ireland, yesterday, saying the closer gamers were to being addicted to their hobby, the more likely they were to display "negative personality traits." Specifically, the pair spotted increased neuroticism, lack of extraversion, and lack of agreeableness.

"The thinking in the field is that there is a scale along which people, even those considered to be 'normal,' can be placed upon," Charlton said in a statement. "And that people such as engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are nearer to the non-empathising, systemising, end of the spectrum, with people with Aspergers syndrome even further along again. Our research supports the idea that people who are heavily involved in game playing may be nearer to autistic spectrum disorders than people who have no interest in gaming."

The researchers surveyed 391 gamers, 86 percent of which were male.

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