Evidence Lacking On Any Connection Between Video Game Violence And Real Violence

from the so-says-the-research dept

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...

Filed Under: research, violent video games


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  1. identicon
    Philipp Mueller, 20 Mar 2009 @ 6:50am

    a German Perspective

    It was a tough week. The kid that killed 16 fellow students in Germany last week played a single-person shooter the night before the incident. Of course, this proves nothing.

    It is clear that playing violent computer games cannot be sufficient explanation for what happened, but coupled with ready access to guns, and media glorifying Columbine as part of global youth culture, it might be a necessary condition.

    It took over 50 years to prove the link between cancer and cigarette smoking, because life is never mono-causal. But really, did anybody believe smoking was good for you in the 1970s?

    Does this mean we should be absolutist about gaming/smoking? Of course not.

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