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
    Rekrul, 19 Mar 2009 @ 9:25pm

    Why do these studies (not this, the ones it debunks) never conclude that the connection between violence and violent games goes the other way? That if a person already has violent tendancies, they're likely to enjoy violent video games. The always pick out extreme cases, like school shooters, while ignoring the million of people who play such games every day, but who never hurt anyone.

    I'd like to see a study on the connection between the rise of violence among kids and the campaign to discourage parents from using any kind of unpleasant discipline on their kids.

    When I was little, I was afraid of making my parents angry. I knew I'd get slapped by my mother for using bad language, or smacked on the seat of my pants for doing something stupid. I was also afraid that my father, who liked to break things when he got mad, would lose his temper and smash my toys. Today, children are taught that if their parents touch them in any way as a form of discipline, it's child abuse and they should report it.

    I'm not advocating beating children, but it's gotten so that many parents are afraid to discipline their kids and the kids know it. Look at all those talkshows that ran "My Kids are out of Control" episodes where the teens called their parents every name in the book and said they were going to do what they wanted.

    Many kids are growing up with no respect for authority, is it any wonder that they have few inhibitions about violence?

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