Playing prosocial video games increases empathy and decreases schadenfreude

Emotion. 2010 Dec;10(6):796-802. doi: 10.1037/a0020194.


Past research provided abundant evidence that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive tendencies and decreases prosocial tendencies. In contrast, research on the effects of exposure to prosocial video games has been relatively sparse. The present research found support for the hypothesis that exposure to prosocial video games is positively related to prosocial affect and negatively related to antisocial affect. More specifically, two studies revealed that playing a prosocial (relative to a neutral) video game increased interpersonal empathy and decreased reported pleasure at another's misfortune (i.e., schadenfreude). These results lend further credence to the predictive validity of the General Learning Model (Buckley & Anderson, 2006) for the effects of media exposure on social tendencies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Video Games*