New research suggests regular exposure to violence in the media could desensitize people to the suffering of others. In two studies, researchers from the University of Michigan found people who had just seen a violent movie or played a video game were slower than others to help someone they thought was injured.
Researchers say video violence can actually numb people to real hurt and they speculate that the effect may increase over time. In fact, the more violence someone was exposed to, the less compassionate they became to others in need. The studies included having people play either a violent or non-violent video game for 20 minutes. After the game was over, they heard a loud fight, where it sounded like someone was hurt. People who’d played the violent video game took longer to help the “victim.”
In another experiment, those who’d watched the violent video game took longer to help a woman pick up crutches.