The Effects on Pro-Social Video Games on Empathy

ABSTRACT THE EFFECTS OF PRO-SOCIAL VIDEO GAMES ON EMPATHY by Simon Kamil Salem Master of Arts in Psychology: Psychological Science Option California State University, Chico Spring 2009 There has been little research on the positive aspects of learning that may arise from video games. This study hypothesizes that playing pro-social video games can increase empathy as compared to previous research that has found that aggressive or violent video games may decrease empathy. Participants were asked to take a measure of aspects of empathy, before and after playing a violent, pro-social or neutral video game. Participants were instructed to play together with another individual for twenty minutes. Participants who were randomly assigned to the pro-social game showed a significant increase in the subscale of personal distress compared to the violent video game, and participants randomly assigned to the neutral game showed a significant increase in the subscale of perspective-taking compared to the violent and pro-social video game. Results show that playing games cooperatively that contain little or no aggressive x qualities as well as pro-social aspects may have an impact on an individual’s ability to empathize with their partner.