What happens to boys who kill women in video games

After participants played their game for about 25 minutes, they answered questions about how they felt about on-screen characters. Did they identify with the mobster in “Grand Theft Auto?” Did they connect with the alien-battling scientist in “Half Life?”

The researchers then showed each student a photo of a bruised girl who, they said, had been beaten by a boy. They asked: On a scale of one to seven, how much sympathy do you have for her?

The male students who had just played “Grand Theft Auto” — and also related to the protagonist — felt least bad for her, the study found. Female students and those who had played the other games, however, exhibited more compassion.

The researchers’ conclusion: Sexist games may shrink boys’ empathy for female victims.