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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Economists defending video game players and marijuana

Economists defending video game players and marijuana

Researchers in Pakistan might have found an effective way to measure empathy or lack of it in a society

Do video games necessarily foster anti-social behaviour, sometimes with tragic consequencesPremium
Do video games necessarily foster anti-social behaviour, sometimes with tragic consequences

Do video games necessarily foster anti-social behaviour, sometimes with tragic consequences?

Recent episodes of gun violence in the West have often focussed on the tendency of the assailants to play violent video games.

However, recent research by Karol J. Borowiecki and Juan Prieto-Rodriguez from University of Southern Denmark and University of Oviedo, respectively, shows that not all type of video games cause “anti-social" behaviour.

Using a survey of more than 3,500 people in Denmark, they argue that gamers of different genres exhibit very different tendencies.

For example, gamers playing classic video games like puzzles or strategic games or social games like virtual reality games tend to exhibit slightly better cultural habits than non-players, in terms of reading more, attending museum, theatre, etc.. The only exception being video-gamers who play more of “reflex games", i.e. games classified as action or fight or shooter or similar categories.

“Reflex game" players, who are typically males below 40, seem relatively less interested in theatre or literature. However, the researchers caution that it could be partially attributed to demographics given that even the under-40 males who don’t play games, generally tend to spend lesser time on cultural activities than their older counterparts.

Read more:The Cultural Value and variety of playing video games"

Lawmakers in US are mulling to double the minimum salary of H1-B visa holders, which would likely curb the flow of Indian IT professionals to the US. This has predictably drawn responses not only from India’s corporate leaders but also from government officials, pleading the case that outsourcing has been beneficial to the US economy too. While it might be true that high-skilled immigrant labour in US did contribute to the US economy in form of higher profits for US companies and cheaper services for US consumers, it certainly had a detrimental effect on US workers, according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by economists from the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Diego.

They show using data from 1994 to 2001, that high-skill immigration in US had a significant effect on the choices made by US workers and students. Due to immigrants in the IT sector who were willing to work at lower wages, many Americans who might otherwise have been an engineer or computer scientist now became a manager.

They also show that the IT sector in US earned substantially higher profits due to immigration, which perhaps explains why many Silicon Valley business leaders oppose anti-immigration policies.

Read more: “Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the US."

Medical use of marijuana can have economic benefits for the society as a whole apart from the palliative gains its consumption offers.

Allowing medical use of marijuana can not only aid the health of older adults, but also allow more of them to re-enter the workforce or increase their working hours, according to a new study examining the effects of medical marijuana laws in various US states.

Marijuana is deemed to be an effective treatment for symptoms associated with pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, psychosis, sleep disorders, and spasticity.

Lauren Hersch Nicholas and Johanna Catherine Maclean of Johns Hopkins University and Temple University respectively, argue that there are potentially important social benefits to allowing medical use of marijuana, which are not only limited to increased working abilities among older adults, but also include reducing suicide rates among some sub-populations, reducing alcohol-related traffic accident and other similar observed positive outcomes.

Read more: The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on the Labor Supply of Older Adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Judging empathy or the lack of it among people is a tricky task. Traditional surveys and tests often fail to detect whether or not a person harbours prejudice against a particular community because people are likely to provide socially desirable answers in such surveys.

Latest research has found a more effective way to glean prejudices, in the form of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The test seeks to measure prejudice against a particular community by analyzing how quickly someone associates a negative word with a particular community. A small test among school students in Lahore, Pakistan, asked students to assign 10 Pakistani and 10 Indian words into positive and negative categories. The test detected sub-conscious prejudice against India, i.e. students were much faster at assigning Indian words to negative categories when asked to, as compared to their response time while assigning Pakistani words to negative category. However, the “Developing Pakistan" blog cautioned against interpreting the results as being representative due to the small sample size. An Indian version of the IAT can be played here.

Read more: “How to gauge the impact of empathy-building initiatives"

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Published: 17 Feb 2017, 09:04 AM IST
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