Researcher Finds Scant Evidence Linking Violent Games With Aggressive Behavior

February 19, 2007 -
Any scientific link between violent video games and violent behavior remains tenuous.

At least, that's the conclusion of a Ph.D faculty member at Texas A&M International University's Department of Behavioral, Applied Sciences and Criminal Justice. The researcher, Christopher Ferguson forwarded GamePolitics information about a study he recently completed. In an e-mail, Ferguson wrote:
I conducted a meta-analysis of studies associating violent video game exposure with aggressive behaviors.  A meta-analysis involves collecting existing studies in the literature, and obtaining an over all effect size (i.e. degree of relationship) for all of the studies examined.  This allows us to get a sense, not just for individual research projects, but rather for the overall result from combined studies in a field. 

In the current publication, studies that examined violent video game effects on aggressive behavior were analyzed. Also examined was a phenomenon called "publication bias" which means that scientific journals are more likely to publish studies that support a particular hypothesis than those that reject it.   

Results from the current meta-analysis found that there were about 25 recent studies on violent video game effects, with conflicting results. 

Overall results of the study found that although violent video games appear to increase people's aggressive thoughts (which it would not be surprising that people are still thinking about what they were just playing), violent games do not appear to increase aggressive behavior. 

This as true for both correlational and experimental studies.  Also it was found that studies that employed less standardized measures of aggression produced higher effects than better standardized measures of aggression.  In other words, better measures of aggression are associated with lower effects. 

Publication bias appeared to be a significant issue for studies of aggressive behavior.  Thus it was concluded that there is little evidence from the current body of literature on violent video games that playing violent video games is either causally or correlationally associated with increases in aggressive behavior. 

Ferguson included a copy of his findings, from which the following quotes were lifted:
(it) appears that news outlets may promote media violence in general, and video game violence specifically as a direct cause of violent behavior. 

Despite the relatively young and sparse nature of the research on violent video game effects, some researchers have claimed that the evidence is conclusive...
Yet a close read of the literature reveals that many of the studies used to support this link provide only questionable or inconsistent evidence. 

Part of the problem may be that video game researchers have adopted unreliable methodologies from media violence research in general... Most of the research (particularly laboratory research) employs unvalidated ad-hoc measures of “aggression”.

We regret that GP is unable to publish the entire report at this time. However, it can be purchased here ($30).

Comments

Re: Researcher Finds Scant Evidence Linking Violent Games With

hus spoke psychology research, I had a feeling that psychological research on video games is bound to be influenced by politics and possibly vanity, even so much that it can't remain NPOV (neutral point of view). On whose evidence should I examine?

Re: Researcher Finds Scant Evidence Linking Violent Games With

There's a lot of games which do have violence in them without the makers or producers putting that on the boxes and to my opinion, that's wrong.
There's nothing wrong with violence in games, I love shooters and games full of violence too, but, always on the bad guys. Cuz they never win.
I do think some games are barely or really ill informed.
People should change that.
Most children who do play these games, should be, to my opinion, old enough to know that, when you shoot someone in a game, it's not normal to do this in real life.
Keep those games away from your kids if they're mentally unstable, too young, or just morons.

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Re: Researcher Finds Scant Evidence Linking Violent Games With

The world is thirsty for violence. No one will admit this but once they get their hands on a violent video they play it like there's no tomorrow. Having the university behind me, Nouveau Riche, I was thinking on transforming this violent games into something at least educational. Kids should know a little bit about everything. If they kill someone they should also know medical facts, how to accord the first aid and so on.

If you're interested in reading about video game violence, this is a good link to follow;

http://culturalpolicy.uchicago.edu/conf2001/papers/walsh.html

Personally ive been playing video games for 15 years no one ever said i had a problem. This whole thing is bull not one study has confirmed or denied this and yet everyone wants to know if its true or not. video games are violent because thats what people want to play its what there interested in sports fantasy violence its all part of what intrests the public the media is just looking for a story and scientists want some useless project to work on so they can get money get over it. oh and my name is the name i use in games online just to let u know.

I would also like to know what the definition of aggression is in this case. If this is true i think it is great and it will hopefully change a few peoples minds about "aggressive" video games.

You know this isn't going to change anyone's mind.

[...] Dr. Christopher Ferguson vid Texas A&M International University har helt enkelt gjort en

[...] A Texas A&M researcher sent GamePolitics a study he recently completed showing little evidence linking violent video games and violent behavior. Christopher Ferguson, a Ph.D faculty member at the university’s department of behavioral, applied sciences and criminal justice, conducted a “meta-analysis” of studies associating violent video game exposure with aggressive behaviors. A look at the overall result of studies in the field showed violent video games increase people’s aggressive thoughts, not necessarily action. [...]

[...] A Texas A&M researcher sent GamePolitics a study he recently completed showing little evidence linking violent video games and violent behavior. Christopher Ferguson, a Ph.D faculty member at the university’s department of behavioral, applied sciences and criminal justice, conducted a “meta-analysis” of studies associating violent video game exposure with aggressive behaviors. A look at the overall result of studies in the field showed violent video games increase people’s aggressive thoughts, not necessarily action. [...]

[...] Publicado por Varmagul on 21/02/07 Segun un estudio realizado por la Universidad Internacional de Texas A&M, los videojuegos violentos no generan comportamientos violentos. Han hecho un estudio sobre 25 estudiantes en ambientes distintos y han probado ( a saber como se prueban estas cosas…) que no tendian a comportamientos violentos. [...]

[...] Read the full article here. [...]

FAO JACK THOMPSON; This is the bit of the report you need to circulate:

"Overall results of the study found that although violent video games appear to increase people’s aggressive thoughts."

Don't worry about the rest of it, that bit alone speaks volumes.

Love,

Dan

Aw... formatting went bye-bye.

(It was "Ha!" in bold and italics)

The problem I've found with the violence studies is that the "aggressive" and "non-agressive" games are completely different play styles with different objectives and storytelling. Nor do I understand what they mean by "aggressive" behavior afterwards. I'd never even conceived of the publishing bias though.

I'd just like to say Ha!

Hopefully this study won't suffer from "publication bias", then.

Researcher Finds Scant Evidence Linking Violent Games With ......

...

[...] Gamepolitics.com, a site run by the Entertainment Consumers Association, is reporting that it has received information on a new study of video games and their propensity for leading to aggressive behavior. [...]

I'm a big proponent of actually reading these research studies so you can make up your own mind about their claims, see their experimental setups, etc.

A PDF of the report can be found at this link.

http://www.mediafire.com/?cdl4zemmd2y

If any of you are college students, it is likely that you can read the actual article for free. You just need to go to your library and get it from the journal or go to your library website and print it off the Internet. Your school librarian can help you with this if need be. The citation for the article is as follows:

Ferguson, C.J., Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: A meta-analytic review, Aggression and Violent Behavior (2007), doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2007.01.001

The article is not yet published but has been accepted for publication meaning that it should appear in a new issue of Aggression and Violent Behavior.

[...] [2]GamePolitics.com. “Researcher Finds Scant Evidence Linking Violent Games With Aggressive Behavior” Feb 19 2007. Available http://gamepolitics.com/2007/02/19/researcher-finds-scant-evidence-linki... [...]

Now Miami's village idot will claim the researchers were being payed off by the game industry.

After a few hours of violent game playing, I go to my local Mall and start pushing people around. I'm serious, I love the looks on people when I start a mini riot. The real fun part is telling the police officers the greatest game I just played.

The study is in the journal "Aggression and Violent Behavior" and is available on the journal web-site (it costs $30 if you're not downloading from a university).

[...] I know it’s hard to believe, when politicians are standing up and claiming that a mountain of evidence proves that games make kids kill, that it all boils down to something as flimsy as a razor-thin difference in button presses… but it does. Other shocking discoveries include finding that playing violent games increases heart-rate, or get this… stimulates areas of the brain! (For a more thorough discussion, check out this meta-analysis of game research.) [...]

Thank You! and GG video game haters.

The big problem with these studies is that they don't measure actual real aggression but what the researchers consider proxies for real aggression like hitting plastic dolls, giving noise blasts, or popping balloons. No one would consider these proxies to be a legitimate way of determining real life aggression with intent to harm. And to that experimental demand effect (where the subjects commit actions in the lab enviroment that they think the reseachers are looking for but know are inappropriate in real life), and the difference between aggression with intent to harm and aggressive play (which is a perfectly natural part of childhood and a by product of our evolution) and you'll see that the studies don't come close to proving any legitimate harm to people from consuming violent media. As for the real world studies, at best all they show is a correlation and not a direct casual link.

I wonder what peer reviewed publication this is going to go into.

Ferguson rocks. He has the same name as the leader of the soldiers fromm hellsing.


Yea, Fer is gonna get dissed by JT

Thus spoke psychology research, I had a feeling that psychological research on video games is bound to be influenced by politics and possibly vanity, even so much that it can't remain NPOV (neutral point of view). On whose evidence should I examine? Craig Anderson, Christopher Ferguson or both.

Sadly, this study will make a magical disappearance whenever the issue comes up in court, or when the idiots are flapping their gums.

"Most of the research (particularly laboratory research) employs unvalidated ad-hoc measures of “aggression”."

I'd like to read more about that actually. What exactly are most of them using to define agression.

Interesting results. Meta-analyses are generally considered to be one of the highest levels of scientific evidence there are. However, we should wait until this meta-analysis is published in a peer-reviewed journal (it hasn't yet to my knowledge) before considering it as scientific evidence. That's the step where publication bias occurs, unfortunately.

Now what I'd like to see is Ferguson sit down with Craig Anderson (who has also done meta-analysis on VGV studies, many of them his own, and is the genius responsible for the "Stronger link than between cigarettes and cancer" comments) and debate their respective methodologies.

[...] There are also snooty chuckles from ill-informed video game apologists on sites such as ArsTechnica (a good site on some counts but not a bastion of scholarly insight) and the Entertainment Consumers Association blog GamePolitics (which has a transparent agenda). ArsTechnica cites Ferguson despite admitting that they have not read the article (let alone other studies on the subject). In short, there is some decent evidence that there is a connection, hecklers notwithstanding. [...]

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There's a lot of games which do have violence in them without the makers or producers putting that on the boxes and to my opinion, that's wrong.
There's nothing wrong with violence in games, I love shooters and games full of violence too, but, always on the bad guys. Cuz they never win.
I do think some games are barely or really ill informed.
People should change that.
Most children who do play these games, should be, to my opinion, old enough to know that, when you shoot someone in a game, it's not normal to do this in real life.
Keep those games away from your kids if they're mentally unstable, too young, or just morons.

[…] Read the full article here. […]

Re:

Meta analysis of research can be bias if the researcher only chooses articles that support a particular point of view prior to the analysis. In research this is often called selection bias and many polictically active groups are often involved in this activity.

 
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