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Increasing Societal Well-Being Through Enhanced Empathy Using Computer Games

  • Judith AnnettEmail author
  • Stefan Berglund
Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

Recent research suggests that the well-being of both individuals and society in general may have a neurobiological basis linked to empathy. This raises the issue of available routes for enhancing empathy (through interventions such as education, training, pharmacology, etc.). One of the most important features of the human brain, especially of the brains of children and teenagers, is its plasticity. Millions of children and teenagers spend many hours every day playing computer games. Many computer games include different forms of violence and aggression and there has been extensive research that indicates that there is a correlation between playing these games, aggression, and reduced disposition to pro-social behaviors. However, much less research has been conducted on the potential effects of pro-social and non-violent computer games. Since there is not yet a comprehensive model of the possible causal relationships between playing such games and neuropsychological function, neuroendocrine function (e.g. oxytocin release), empathy, pro-social behaviors, and individual and societal well-being, we provide a basic theoretical framework for empirical research on these issues. The aim of this framework is ultimately to establish not only correlational evidence, but to allow the development of experimental protocols to meaningfully examine the causal relationships and mechanisms.

Keywords

Increasing societal well-being Plasticity of the human brain Using computer games Computer games and Well-Being Pro-social behavior and computer games Individual and societal well-being Causal relationships and mechanisms 

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and PhilosophyUniversity of SkövdeSkövdeSweden

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