New Research Sees Correlation Between Violent Bible Passages and Aggression

February 27, 2007 -
In what is likely to be a controversial finding, a team of researchers reports a correlation between violent sciptural passages and real-life aggression.

The research, which may have implications in the ongoing debate over the effects of video game violence, was conducted in part at Utah's Brigham Young University. As reported by the Deseret News:
a study of 490 students — 248 of them at Brigham Young University — suggests a correlation between exposure to scriptural violence that is condoned by God and increased aggression.

University of Michigan psychologist Brad Bushman, BYU professor Robert Ridge and three other researchers co-wrote "When God Sanctions Killing," which will appear in the March issue of Psychological Science magazine.

Ridge was careful to point out that the study was not meant as an attack on biblical writings:
We were not saying that reading the scriptures is bad, but we were pointing out that if a person was seeing that kind of (violent) literature, it could have some negative effects... when you think about terrorists and they say, 'God will sit in judgment,' and they sometimes refer to a scripture, our question was, 'Could that really make a person behave more aggressively?' And the answer is, yes, it could.

In the study, student volunteers were shown bible passages containing references to violent acts such as rape, beatings and murder. Half of the survey group were then shown an additional passage indicating that God sanctioned violent retribution. Those who were given this additional information responded with increased aggression in a subsequent measurement.

The Deseret News reports that the researchers believe their findings are consistent with other studies which show correlation between aggression and violent movies, music and video games. On this point, Ridge said:
We're not saying that just in and of itself violent media is uniformly bad but oftentimes there is no redeeming context to it...  But if a person dives into (a violent passage) without the context, you could probably get some increased aggression.

Among the researchers involved in the scriptural violence study, Dr. Bushman has prior background with research on aggression and violent video games. In 2005 he was a member of the American Psychological Association's Committee on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media. That group issued an oft-cited report linking violent games to increased aggression.


Re: New Research Sees Correlation Between Violent Bible

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I wonder what JT will say about this study, seeing as he is a christian him self and he's been using flawd studys like this one for ages. Well, I'm shure we'll hear some sort of reaction from the anti-game/gamer side soon. Proably they will be saying the same thing we have been saying about their studys. About how many flaws there are in the study, and they needed a larger test group, ect.


Great politician will now think they have a study that allows them to censor ANY violent material or nay material that they deem violent (Any material they don't like). Screw the religious implications. A study like this has an affect on all media in the minds of politicians.

Damnit, I did not need this on a Tuesday.

::Initiates the Slow Clap::

"If you accept A then you must accept B"

Its nice to have bogus studies to throw back at other bogus studies. Glorious.

This study doesn't sound very scientific, as in the conclusion of the hypothesis sounds illogical. Were they studying religion, violent behavior, or coersion? I think if we criticize the game study, which should criticize this study for the same reasons. I mean, the correlation may exist with external variables with both studies.

I'm not religious, but I went to a Catholic College that made you take two theology credits. It was approached as philosophy and kind of interesting. My learning included the understanding of how scripture is wrongly considered a plan rather than a history or allegory. The other thing is that violence that God condones in those books are one-time-as-necessary events. Mostly God decides, not people.

I guess my point is that if people take biblical violence as an "OK" to enact their own violent behavior, that just means they're rationalizing their own twisted view of reality, and any book, movie, or game would probably serve just as well.

For the love of all that is, who the heck willingly chooses to fund these idiotic studies. We've been saying it for a while now here on GP. Any form of media exposure whether it be printed word, audible, or visual can cause unstable people to fly off the edge. Don't point fingers at specifics (read: Rock, Rap, GTA, Bible, innumerable others) and proudly announce you've discovered the cause of all violence since the beginning of time!

It amases me people believe these whack-job studies with minimal scientific value but refuse to believe the numerous extensive studies into Global Warming...

Welp. Clearly the only answer is to remove all violence from public consumption.

All of these studies are flawed by one simple fact:

We as a species ar fundametally violent, adults and children included.

This is not per definition a "bad" thing, it helped us to survive and evolve for thousands of years.

The trick is that most people (and children) can control or learn to control their violent urges.

So we all have violent impulses, but mostly we don't act upon them.
---- I'm not crazy, just ask the pink elephant...

I would write a letter to my legislators asking them to ban the sale of bibles to minors, but somehow I doubt they'd be willing to go anywhere near a bill like that. Damned double-standards.

Oh-oh. I forsee this study changing the way the violent games argument plays out, but I don't predict that the discourse will be any more productive or substantive on either side. Studies don't motivate anti-game champions, their own sense of what is harmful does. Same goes for most pro-gamers. Studies are just talking points for the debate, accepted or disregarded according to what each side knows is "really true."

Agreed chuma, however the average person doesn't have the attention span for extensive studies that show real facts. We want it NOW NOW NOW... and it can't be complicated. At least, that's what politicians lead me to believe. *sigh*

I'm reminded of a Mark Twain quote -- but apparently it's an obscure one, because I can't seem to find it.

In short, in response to the suggestion that his books weren't suitable for children, Twain responded with something along the lines of "I appreciate that you have brought this to my attention. My books are not intended for children, and in fact I don't believe children should read at all. I believe I was scarred for life as a child when my parents forced me to read the Bible every night."

That's a very inelegant paraphrase, but I think I've at least got the idea right.

One of the interesting aspects that I havent seen discussed is that the scriptures (regardless of religious affiliation) are seen as authoritive, divinely inspired and as a code of morals that influence behavior.

If religious scriptures are seen as authoritative, and people believe in them to be an example of how to act, that could be the link between behavior and input.

Video Games however, are not seen as authoritative, divine or examples of good behavior. Games are seen more as a diversion, as fun, as a job, as a supplement... not as divinely inspired authoritative text.

I think that's the key issue and differentiation between video games and scripture.

New Research Sees Correlation Between Violent Bible Passages and ......



true, but what we can do is use this research as a counter to the violent game research... essentionally, anyone who chooses to embrace the video game studies can have these studies shoved down their throat, but those who choose not to disregard such studies can ignore both. bascially its a situation where we point out that if you say A is true then you MUST also except B is true by extention... B can not be excepted without A.

For the sake of discussion, the way we can use such studies is like:
Anti-game critic- well the so-and-so studies prove games are harmful

Gamers- well, putting aside the value of such studies, similar studies studies show that the bible has the same effect on peopel and is therefore just as bad

Anti-game- err... i... those studies are no good

Gamers- But these studies are done the same way as the studies you quoted, if the bible study is no good then the video game study is no good by extention...

Anti-gamer-.... i err... that is...umm..

Bascially, the anti game critics are forced into a situation where they must either say the video game studies are flawed (atleast don't prove what the anti0gamer claims), or that the bible is has similar violent effects on poeple as video games... ofcourse they will probably end up going with option 3, which is to make up a lot of BS, to make the distinction that completly ignores all facts... however, the plus side is that when it comes to courts, judges do not listen to the BS and will except one of the two first options as the truth; more then like the first option where both studies are flawed/not proof of anything serious worth breaking free speech over

Well now we know that Samuel Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction couldn't help himself, he just became a violent person after reciting bible passages.

" ... And you will know my name is the Lord! When I lay my vengence upon thee ... "

Anyway, another psuedo study, but as Monte mentioned, one that directly parallels video game, movie, violent media studies. To almost a letter, if I infer from the article linked correctly.

You know the ones are misused by pollies, NIMF, etc. And the one horribly abused and contorted by Thompson's ilk.

Any way pseudo-science is pseudo-science. Bleech.

Any links to the study itself, Dennis, anyone?

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

I always considered it ironic when peaple talk about the crusade against violent videogames and such.

i mean, if you consider that the crusades where one of the most violent bible related massacres ever...
---- I'm not crazy, just ask the pink elephant...

It's great how this has no negative connotations for video games. If you go along with the "Studies have shown.." route, you must also blame the Bible just as much as video games (something which any politician would be extremely loathe to do). If you discount the Bible study, you must also discount the video game study. End result, you either alienate yourself from supporters, or you dont have a leg to stand on when trying to legislate games for this reason.

A certain anti-game activist has said that his favourite story is that of David and Goliath (in which a man is murdered by having his skull cracked). Now there is evidence to suggest that his favourite story has the exact same effect as what he despises? Mmmm, that's some delicious irony.

I wonder how the Bible would look with a nice big ESRB rating sticker on it's cover. The back would covered with those warning symbols! New ones might have to be invented in some cases.

Lmao, I agree another half assed study however it is amusing to say the least. This has to be the most amusing article I've read in awhile, kudos on finding it GP.

I just have this weird feeling that the reason for certain people being agressionately stimulated by the bible is because they BELIEVE in what's written in it.

But that's just me.

Thanks GP for telling me how they measured the aggression rate in a person after playing a game. So they have these people play a game where they have to be the first to push buttons inorder to kill the other players/NPCs. Then they put them in a contest to push a button the fastest to measure the aggression. Sounds like training people to fail a test to me.

You know, I really think they should compare this to the noise blast usage of people reading fluffy bunny, or watching Barney...

These studies have no control group to compare to...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I agree with Zachary,

it's more of a reaction time test than an agression test. I's competetive too.

I think the "agression" scores would even start to go up if you just let the test subjects play the "sound blast" game a few times in a row.
---- I'm not crazy, just ask the pink elephant...


Gee, that sounds awfully familiar. Another thing I found interesting is that most of the participants are college students that have at least some belief in God. That just proves to me this study is no different from the video game ones we tear into and the ones at which we get mad at when politicians use them to justify unconstitutional legislation.

@Terminator... the newspaper article describes the aggression measurement. It's a contest bewteen two people to press a button quickest to deliver a blast of noise...

So, basically, precisely like the tests done on Video Games.

Why do I get the feeling this was test was done to prove a point, and it's doing so very well.

The key there is the second-to-last quoted passage. If folks aren't grounded in context (read: reality) they're likely to take things to extremes that aren't sanctioned by the material itself. This should support what we've been saying about video games all along; not bad in themselves, they can sometimes be twisted or distorted when in the wrong hands. But the game (or scripture) itself isn't what leads to a distorted sense of reality.

I would REALLY like to know how they measured agression in this study. It sounds an awful lot like the half-assed video game agression studies we hate so much. The fact that it compares itself with these kind of studies makes this very likely.

Now, I do think that violence potrayed in the Bible is just as bad as anything you might find in a violent video game. However, we should not stoop to the level of anti-game politicians and embrace this study as anything definitive or conclusive.

......Another point of it all no one wants to believe that the bible does this.....and if you argue and say that the bible are also saying that all the video game precidents are incorrent so all politions out there that support video game sould read this(if there are any :'(


[...] Original post by GamePolitics   [...]

ok, see this study is already skewed, half of the students are from one place, that is not going to give you an accurate sample, here's my other question.... is that the only information that they had? If that's all someone knows, or is lead to know about scripture, you are skewing your results again and where's the control group? Some study huh?


Some portions of this article sounds interesting. May be you have some links where I could read more about this topic?...

Are you sure your not confusing gamers with 90% of the population?

Violence anywhere, games, movies, and even the bible desensitize people. This is a common enough experience everyone has. This study just shows that no matter where you see violence, the more you see and read it, the more likely you are to consider violence as a practical solution to certain problems.

If you think about it, reading historic narratives about WW2 would do the same thing. Or any war, really. It's not just the Bible, nor is it video games.

Meh? How did that get into this article? Sorry all, that was supposed to be in the Second Life news article :-/

Terrorism basically involves using the threat of destruction or death to attain a goal. I doubt people were in fear of their lives when these things went off, indeed, most reports say everyone found it funny.

Thing is, as stated earlier, Linden Labs make their own controversy, it certainly served them well financially.


oh yes, because gamers are just braindead kids who play games all day and do nothing else; no life what-so-ever beyond games. They don't have relgious beliefs or political opinions, or ever keep up to date with the world around them like normal poeple do. When a gamer talks about anything like religion, theology, of politics, they MUST be speaking complete and ignorant BS =/


What distinction is there to make? The study isn't just refering to books in generally, the study is specifically talking about the bible. If the study was on books in general, then ya, politicans could make a distinction between books and the bible, but the study is for the bible... in no way could they bring up this study and not mention the bible

heh, technically, since a big part of the study is that it's not just about the violence in the bible, but the concept that God condones the violence, it could sooner be switch in the opposite direction, trying to censoring the bible, without touching any other books.


How many politicians with an agenda would make that distinction.

GhaleonQ, you're right, people having opinions, for better or worse, is a terrible thing. We should all just shut up and let politicians make all the decision in this Democracy.

Oh yes, of course, that's a Dictatorship when you do that....

Jack Thompson behaves like the Al Qaeda group, forces people to believe and bow down to his God, he got some nerve!

To AnonAmbientLight,

Religions does have negative influences on crazy people (Fundies and terrorists) and good influence on peaceful people. It depends on how you use the Bible, and of course it has it's both good and bad verses.

And high-five to you, GhaleonQ, for that statement. High, freaking, five.

Ignore him. You'll note the inability to make a single substantive rhetorical point in the original post, relying instead on insults? Don't feed the Trolls, ladies and gentlemen.

When gamers speak about religion and theology, it's almost as embarrassing as their commentary on politics. Ugh.

Back @ Pixelantes Anonymous-

Defensive? Thin skinned? Hmmm, well, last I checked, I was an atheist with the name of a demon tattooed quite visibly on my arm in 4cm tall letters. As such, I'm not quite sure what I have to be "defensive" about. But thanks for playing at any rate. I'm sure the troll attempt of saying the LDS isn't a "REAL" religion will make Jack Thompson smile smugly while you prove his point that we're all hateful sociopaths...

From Wikipedia:

"This is, in fact, not an actual passage from the Bible, but a collage of several passages. Ezekiel 25:17 in the King James Version reads:

And I will execute great vengeance upon thee with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them"

You're right though, the whole quote is from a Sonny Chiba movie.

HOLY SHIT!!! Biblical scriptures has negative influences on people? Wow, i had NOOOOOO CLUE. I mean, what do terroist base their actions off of? Couldnt be the koran? What about the crusades. Couldnt have been the pope. Not at all!

I cant believe it took people this long to figure it out. Add to the hundreds of dollars they must have spent to be able to do this, when all they had to do was just look at the news.....


Spamfilter ate my last post. Hopefully it'll be reinstated, but basically I was pointing out (which lots of links, which I suppose is what the spam-filter didn't like) is that while I find -this- study unimpressive, we have a surprising amount of anecdotal and what you might call epidemiological data suggesting that religion can be a contributing factor to and sometimes the sole cause of real-world violent behaviour in humans.
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