According to a study, there is new evidence to counter the common speculation that violent video games may cause gamers with autism to turn aggressive and act violently.
"If violent video games caused adults with autism spectrum disorder to behave aggressively, we should have seen some evidence of this in our study but we did not," said lead author Christopher Engelhardt, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri.
The researchers also found strong evidence that violent video games do not affect adults with autism spectrum disorder differently than typically developing adults.
"There are some caveats to our findings," Engelhardt said. "For example, we only exposed participants to violent or non-violent games for 15 minutes before measuring their willingness to behave aggressively.
This study, therefore, cannot speak to the potential long term effects of violent video game exposure," Engelhardt noted.
In this study, after playing one of two video games that differed only in the amount of violence present in the game, participants engaged in a task to measure aggression.
In that task, participants were led to believe they were competing against another person in a trial to test their reaction times.
If the participant won the trial, he or she could "blast" their opponent with a loud noise. The length and volume of that noise were determined by the participant, which allowed the researchers to measure aggression levels in the participants.
More than 100 adults between the ages of 17 and 25, half with autism spectrum disorder and half typically developing, participated in the study which is forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science.