Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of Aggressive Behavior

December 14, 2010 -

New research by one Dr. Christopher Ferguson from Texas A&M International University finds that depression in young people has more of a correlation to aggressive and violent behavior than gaming does - at least among Hispanics. While the study was narrowed to one demographic, the conclusions are nonetheless interesting.

"Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth," Ferguson concluded. "The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression. Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint."

Ferguson recruited 302 (mostly) Hispanic youths between the ages of 10 - 14 years-old, from a small city on the border of Mexico. The population of this unnamed city was primarily of Hispanic dissent. Participants were interviewed at the start of the study and at the end of the study 12 months later.

He then looked at how much exposure the subjects had to violence in video games, television, and negative events in their lives. Negative events included neighborhood problems, bad relationships with adults, antisocial behavior, family attachment, delinquent peers, family interaction and communication, exposure to domestic violence, depressive symptoms, serious aggression, bullying, and delinquent behavior.

His research showed that (at the beginning of the study) 75 percent of young people played video games within the past month on computers, consoles or other devices, and 40 percent played games with violent content. Naturally, boys played more violent games than girls. One year later, 7 percent reported being involved in at least one "criminally violent act during the previous 12 months," with the common crime being physical assaults on other students or the use of force to take something away from someone else. Nineteen percent reported engaging in at least one nonviolent crime during the same period, such as shoplifting or theft on school property.

During the course of his research, Ferguson found that symptoms of depressions were a "strong predictor" for youth aggression and rule breaking. Depression was especially influential in those who were identified as having preexisting antisocial personality traits. The research did not find that exposure to violence from video games or television at the start of the study was a good predictor of aggressive behavior in young people.

Dr. Furgeson's research will appear in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Source: Science 2.0, image credit


Comments

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

I wouldn't say games are not 100% not to blame here.  This article points out what most people already know is that video games are an escape from problems in people's lives.  Same as watching TV or eating a lot.

 

This just points out one thing that should already be obvious, people living in bad areas with lower incomes tend to have a higher chance of being voilent.  Thats just how life works everywhere.

 

Sure, bad people can come from anywhere, thats true, but generally speaking, most come from bad experiences in life, poverty, unhealthy family attachments, confusion on where to go in life, and lowered expetations when reality sets in that you are going to be as big as you thought you were in life is all contributors.

 

Video games are just really accessible and let you act out, atleast partically whats bugging you, and for most thats enough, but for some it can also have an adverse affect or make it worse.

 

Its no different than if someone sets infron of the tv all their life, gets really fat and dies of a heart attack.  That person still had problems, but the outlet they turned to was an unhealthy contributor. Same with video games in some people.

 

Am i saying ban on video games?  no thats like saying ban all tv and unhealthy food.  People are going to over indulge and stuff, and for most they know how to limit their unhealhty behavior, but for some they can't.  And like anything in life, its the few that give a bad name to the majority.

 

But you should atleast try to understand it.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

"Naturally, boys played more violent games than girls."

Erm... there's nothing 'natural' about it. Such skewing comes from societal and peer pressure, not from an innate tendency for girls to be less attracted to violent media than boys.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

This is all well and good, but it is entirely unfair to attack Anderson's studies while ignoring the flaws in Ferguson's. Studies like these have almost the exact same flaws that render Anderson's studies useless-correlation rather than causation, focus on a narrow societal demographic, and laboratory proxies to substitute for actual violence. Video games cannot be exonerated or condemned on evidence like this alone. It just goes to show that science in its current state cannot provide the answers for the media violence debate.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

Actually this study is a prospective study, not an experimental one.  The study was careful to use much better clinically validated measures of aggression and youth violence than in previous studies (including Anderson's).  It also improves on previous work by considering other important factors, which no other long-term outcome study does. 

So this study certainly improves on Anderson's shoddy work in many ways.

However you are certainly correct about correlation/causation and the limits of one demographic.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

And all the blame ensures that those who still suffer depression will never get the help they need.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

BUT!!!

Why can't it be videogames?  They're so much easier to blame than something I'd have to actually pay attention to and care about!

I prefer to stick my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and ignore this study and continue to go with my "common sense."  

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

WHAT HAVE I BEEN SAYING?! Bullying leads to school shootings! They push that poor kid, the one that "it's okay to make fun of," until he snaps, and commits suicide. The shooters just want to take some (or all) or their tormenters with them. And the teachers do nothing (some even join in). And it's not just one bully; it may start with one instigator, but I've seen the nicest kids in school turn around and be total buttheads to that one, poor underdog.

Every school shooter either begged for death after they were stopped or shot themselves. That says something. But everyone blames everyone but themselves. No one at Columbine said, "We brought this on ourselves. We could have prevented this."

"For those of you who have nothing to do in life but to hurt others, either physically or verbally, one can only hope you don't have kids with any form of a handicap. Because in my experience, you don't have what it takes. You lack soul." - Maverick

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

Except the bulk of the shootings did not involved bullied kids... that was another initial conclusion that was debunked as more data came out, but has kinda stuck around.  The Columbine kids were even pretty popular... they just happened to be sociopaths.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

One of them was a sociopath. The other was significantly depressed.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

Where are you getting your information from?

"The link between bullying and school violence has attracted increasing attention since the 1999 rampage at Colorado's Columbine High School. Both of the shooters were classified as gifted children and had been bullied for years. A year later, an analysis by officials at the U.S. Secret Service of 37 premeditated school shootings found that bullying, which some of the shooters described "in terms that approached torment," played the major role in more than two-thirds of the attacks.[33] A similar theory was expounded by Brooks Brown in his book on the massacre, noting that teachers commonly looked the other way when confronted with bullying"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre#Bullying_as_...

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Study: Depression, Not Violent Media, is a Predictor of ...

Duh.

Does this not match the profile of EVERY youth who shoots up his school?  The media and the political extremists (left and right) jump to blame games, and ignore the clear psychological profiles of the shooters.  

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