Saturday, October 31, 2015

Are those of us who study violent video games biased?

A recent article claims that we are not. I'll have to read the full article when I have some spare time. The charge of bias is one that those of us who study media violence - in particular those of us who manage to find causal links between violent media and aggressive behavioral responses - is one that we deal with frequently. Although video game research is not a primary focus of mine currently, it is research that I find quite fascinating, and it was fun to be on the ground floor of some very well-run experiments examining the effects of violent video games. Oddly enough, I was a skeptic until not only our own results came in, and I can say that I had to accept what the data were telling us when the cumulative record of research from a variety of labs overwhelmingly confirmed that there indeed appeared to be a causal link between playing violent video games and increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, feelings, and appraisals, and a decrease in empathy and prosocial behavior. That's the thing to keep in mind: the research replicates. Also, we in the behavioral and social sciences are well-trained to follow the evidence wherever it may lead us.

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