Researchers have found strong evidence that violent video games do not affect adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) differently than typically developing adults. Findings from the study are published in Psychological Science.

There has been much speculation about a link between ASD and violence, especially regarding how violent video games may cause gamers with autism to act violently. A research team from the University of Missouri conducted the first study to assess the effects of violent video games on aggression in adults with ASD. Adults with and without ASD were assigned to play a violent or nonviolent version of a customized “first-person shooter” video game. Their responses to the three aggression-related outcome variables (aggressive behavior, aggressive thought accessibility, and aggressive affect) were assessed afterwards.

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Study results showed that adults with ASD were not affected differently acute exposure to violent video games vs. typically developing adults. Also, there was modest evidence against any effect of violent game content. These study findings do not support the current societal concerns about whether violent game exposure has a differential effect on adults with ASD, researchers conclude.

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