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Racing Video Games Linked to Aggressive Real Life Driving

German study shows those who play virtual racing games are more likely to display aggressive behavior in traffic situations

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Playing virtual racing games on a computer or video console can lead to aggressive driving and risk taking, an effect called "media priming," according to a report in the March issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

Peter Fischer, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, and colleagues investigated whether playing racing games affects cognitions and behaviors that can promote risk taking in actual road traffic situations.

In one study, the investigators found a positive association between the frequency of playing racing games and competitive driving, obtrusive driving and car accidents, and a negative association with video game playing and cautious driving. A second study showed that men who played even one virtual racing game "reported a higher accessibility of cognitions and affect positively associated with risk taking."

In a final study, the authors showed that men who played a racing game were more likely to take aggressive and risky actions in computer-simulated critical road traffic situations. "Future research should indeed investigate whether it is possible to extrapolate from short-term effects of racing games to possible long-term effects by using a longitudinal study design," the authors write.

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