People who play sexist, violent videogames run the risk of developing unpleasant attitudes themselves, scientists have warned.
Young male gamers who had been playing a violent game with sexist depictions of women - Grand Theft Auto Vice City - were shown images of an adolescent girl who had been physically abused by a boy.
They showed markedly less empathy towards the woman - shown crying with a black eye with a man in the background.
Researchers used 154 volunteers aged 15-20, some of whom played Grand Theft Auto Vice City and San Andreas - and others played Half Life 2 or Dream Pinball 3D.
Lead researcher Brad Bushman of Ohio State University noted that in these games, women are secondary characters and most are prostitutes or strippers who are used as sexual objects by players.
‘Most people would look at these images and say the girl pictured has to be terrified. But males who really identified with their characters in the sexist, violent games didn’t feel as much empathy for the victim,’ said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.