ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study

April 28, 2009 -

Last week the National Institute on Media and the Family along with Iowa State University Prof. Douglas Gentile released a study which claimed that 8.5% of 8-18 year-olds displayed signs of video game addiction.

The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, was quickly challenged, most notably by Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson (co-author of Grand Theft Childhood) and ABC News polling director Gary Langer.

Citing Langer's report on the study's flawed research methodology, game publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association yesterday sent a letter to the editor of Psychological Science, Purdue University Prof. Robert Kail. ESA CEO Mike Gallagher questioned the validity of the NIMF/Gentile findings and complained that their alarming assertions regarding video game addiction received wide coverage in the mainstream media.

It is safe to say that the sole reason the [Gentile] study generated the kind of media attention it did was due to the inclusion of specific numbers that would appear to have been based on scientific research. In fact, the numbers reflected no such thing. Because of the composition of the group studied, neither the overall figure, nor the cited sampling error is supported by the data Dr. Gentile presented. 

 

We accept Dr. Gentile’s [subsequent] admission of [sampling interpretation] error at face value, although it is hard to understand how a researcher would base a scientific study upon an assumption about the nature of the group he was studying. It is not that Dr. Gentile did not have time to make sure that the group was a truly national representative sample: the data was collected in January, 2007...

Gallagher concluded by asking Kail to advise Psychological Science readers of the discrepancy between the sampling reported by Gentile and that upon which the study was actually based. For a detailed explanation of the sampling issue, see Gary Langer's ABC News post.


Comments

Re: ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study



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Re: ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study

I am still surprised the guy is trying to publish this paper at all.  Even if the sampling was correct, applying these tests to young children is just non-sensical and I doubt other psyches are going to take it seroiusly.

Re: ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study

I hate to say it, but you'd be surprised.  There certainly are mixed opinions, but there is a long history of media-bashing in psychology and video games is no exception.  In other words psychologists will ignore the study's flaws because it "fits" with their a-priori views. 

Re: ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study

Point.  I am so used to the math-centric sciences that I keep forgetting what you can get away with in psych/social/etc

Re: ESA Targets NIMF Addiction Study

I do think they need to add a correction for this in the article.  Otherwise, psychologists are going to have a misunderstanding of the sample when they read the article.  I do understand mistakes happen, but its ethical for them to be corrected.  I do wonder if this would have been published in such a prestigious journal had the editor been aware that the sample was NOT a nationally representative random sample...but...oh well, the path not chosen.

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