According to a new study, it looks like Tetris is not just an effective tool for procrastination, but also for blocking cravings, and could be used therapeutically.
The popular block-stacking game is effectively blocking cravings spanning food, drinks, alcohol, drugs, sex or even sleeping and naps by one fifth, according to researchers from the Queensland University of Technology and Plymouth University.
The psychologists studied the effects of playing Tetris in a natural environment over a course of seven days. Their findings are reported in the Addictive Behaviours international journal.
To understand how Tetris could affect people’s behavior, the research team selected 31 undergraduates, in the age group between 18 to 27. During the seven days of the experiment, the participants were encouraged to self-report cravings. Nonetheless, the research team lent them a helping hand or text in this case, prompting them to report their cravings seven times per day.
To control the results, fifteen participants were asked to play Tetris for three minutes every time they were reporting cravings and come back to the researchers with their level of craving after they had stacked blocks in the game. The remaining 16 participants formed the control group.
According to the research team, the benefits of playing Tetris were sustained over the seven days. Professor Jackie Andrade of the Plymouth University:
“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupied the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time”.
Compiling the reports of the participants, the team found that in 30 percent of the cases, craving were reported. The most common reported cravings were those for food or non-alcoholic drinks. 21 percent of the reported cravings concerned cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, coffee or other substances. Another 16 percent of the cravings concerned videogames, meeting with friends or sleeping or even sex.
However, the level of cravings dropped by over 50 percent while playing Tetris and maintained throughout the seven-day experiment. Even if they played Tetris approximately 40 times on average throughout the experiment, the participants were still reporting less cravings with every gaming session.
The findings point to the potential use of Tetris not only as a leisure activity, but also as a therapeutic tool for treating addictions.
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