Two professors have taken the time to go through all of the various research over the years that has tried to connect violent video games to actual violence, and discovered many problems with it
. They found that research that concludes some sort of connection between the two seems to not use any recognized measure of aggression (allowing for substantial fudging), and that the media attention seems to lead more researchers to study the subject and (perhaps subconsciously) push them towards sensationalizing their findings. Hurray for technopanics
. Among the findings:
- In the last 10 years, video games studies have been overwhelmingly popular compared to studies on other media.
- Less than half of studies (41%) used well validated aggression measures.
- Poorly standardized and unreliable measures of aggression tended to produce the highest effects, possibly because their unstandardized format allows researchers to pick and choose from a range of possible outcomes.
- The closer aggression measures got to actual violent behavior, the weaker the effects seen.
- Experimental studies produced much higher effects than correlational or longitudinal studies. As experimental studies were most likely to use aggression measures of poor quality, this may be the reason why.
- There was no evidence that video games produce higher effects than other media, despite their interactive nature.
- Overall, effects were negligible, and we conclude that media violence generally has little demonstrable effect on aggressive behavior.
Of course, that won't stop lawyers and politicians from grandstanding on the issue...