Do Violent Media Make Viewers 'Comfortably Numb'?
from the and-if-so,-does-it-matter dept
Except... the more you think about it and the more you look at the details the less this seems interesting. The speed with which people respond to a staged violent incident (and for the first part of the video game trials, the researchers admit that many subjects admitted they didn't believe the staged fight seemed real, so they had to make it seem "more real") isn't indicative of very much at all. It certainly says nothing about how long that slowness to respond will last, or if there's any real impact to it. The "violence" people had to respond to hardly seemed particularly critical for fast response time (someone twisted an ankle after a fight about a girl or boy that someone liked). Furthermore, left out of the press release version is the fact that very few of either group of video game players actually helped. 21% of the violent video game players got up to help, but only 25% of the non-violent video game players got up to help.
There was a second experiment as well, that involved participants watching a violent movie -- and, as they walked out, witnessing a woman with her foot and ankle wrapped up drop a pair of crutches, and "struggle" to pick them up. The researchers tout that people who had just watched a violent movie were slower to react and help, but the numbers aren't exactly staggering. Those who had watched a non-violent movie helped in an average of 5.46 seconds. Those who had watched a violent movie helped in an average of 6.89 seconds. Damn slackers. Yes, the vast difference is less than a second and a half... though, the researchers are quick to play up a 26% longer time to help.
While this study makes for a great headline for the anti-violent movie and video game crowd, the details suggest much ado about nothing.