Psychology Study Blames Games for Aggressive Behavior

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NaramSuen:
Civil law, by its very definition, is not criminal; it deals with disputes between individuals and/or organizations and rewards compensation, not jail time. Also, the burden of proof for criminal law and civil law are completely different. Crime rates break crimes down into very specific categories, violent, property, drug, etc... and these categories usually have sub-categories. homicide, breaking and entering, impaired driving, etc... I am not sure how much more specific these statistics could get.

But statistics can be twisted to fit any purpose. Often times when I see someone say "crime has dropped since video games!" they often include both civil and criminal as "crime" is a pretty broad term. Some might view "property damage" as a pretty low crime, so they remove that. I've seen it once or twice. Juvenile crime is a different category than "standard" crime and I have yet to see anyone give me the specifics on that.

My question about age was not intended to be condescending or patronizing, if you took it that way then I apologize. All of your comments are well thought out and interesting to read. I was using it as a way to segue into my broader point about the various scapegoats that have been held up within my lifetime. I grew up in the 80s and have watched a steady train of cynical opportunistic politicians and public figures demonize things that they do not understand in the name of the public good.

I grew up partway into the 90s, but I understand the whole scapegoating thing. This does not mean, however, that we should face the other way and stick our fingers in our ears. After years of us doing the same thing when comic books/D&D/rap was under attack, it's bound to not really be the best solution to combating the naysayers and ignorant politicians. It only further helps their point that we are unsociable manchildren that can't handle anything.

I do not deny that video games have both positive and negative effects upon people. However, I greet any claim, positive or negative, with the same amount of scepticism. This type of research will always be jumped upon by people trying to serve their own self-interests and since I have a dog in this fight, I will be on the side-lines casting doubt.

But do you? Do you really give the same amount of skepticism to positive-yielding studies? That's what I'm doubtful of.

They're right, I shot twenty real live people today without even thinking about it. I can't even tell the difference!

Greg Tito:
Social Psychology.

AAAHHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Oh, he's just a wannabe sociologist who's trying to generate a career break. It's a branch of a field that can't even be called Science. It's randomly analysing population trends and inventing bullshit terminology for them. And then saying that Marx sets it all right.

CosmicCommander:

Greg Tito:
Social Psychology.

AAAHHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Oh, he's just a wannabe sociologist who's trying to generate a career break. It's a branch of a field that can't even be called Science. It's randomly analysing population trends and inventing bullshit terminology for them. And then saying that Marx sets it all right.

From the publisher's website:

The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology publishes original research and theory on human social behavior and related phenomena. The journal emphasizes empirical, conceptually based research that advances an understanding of important social psychological processes. The journal also publishes literature reviews, theoretical analyses, and methodological comments.

There is a difference between sociology and social psychology. This is the latter.

Bartholow's faculty page lists 18 papers that he has either authored or co-authored in the last ten years. The paper in question was co-authored with three other psychologists. This isn't exactly a "career break".

Participants
Participants were selected from a pool of over 2,000 undergraduates who completed a video game usage questionnaire as part of a battery of measures administered in a webbased survey.[...]
Procedure
Participants were told that the study concerned the effects of video games on visual perception and reaction time. After participants gave their consent, the researcher applied scalp electrodes for electroencephalogram (EEG) recording.

So not a "random analysis of population trends", but a specific experiment conducted on a group of participants.

References that begin with "M":

MacKinnon, D. P., & Fairchild, A. J. (2009). Current directions in mediation analysis. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 16-20.

Mullin, C. R., & Linz, D. (1995). Desensitization and resensitization to violence against women: Effects of exposure to sexually violent films on judgments of domestic violence victims. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 44-459.

Note that neither of these are Marx. The conclusion is also worth quoting in this regard:

In summary, the present research is the first to demonstrate that acute desensitization to violence can account for the causal effect of violent video game exposure on aggression. In short, these data indicate that a brain on media violence provides one important pathway for increased aggression.

Again, no Marx.

Can we start taking science seriously now--even when it says things we don't like to hear?

loodmoney:
Time for another episode of "you should have read the paper." Let's begin.< snip >

solidstatemind:
Hm. I'm guessing from the nebulous 'measured brain waves' statement that Bartholow used Event-Related potentials obtained via electroencephalography (or EEG). While you can gain some useful data that way, I certainly wouldn't consider it probative without data obtained via different methods (MRI, CT, or PET scans) to support it.

Outside of that, there is nothing here except poor science. In my training, you were supposed to gather data and then use it to devise a hypothesis, and then try to disprove that hypothesis. This sounds like the very definition of someone having a belief and then devising 'experiments' to support that belief.

Bad, bad, bad science, that.

I take it from the "guessing" and "sounds like" that you didn't read the paper. Wasn't there something in your training that said that you should have done that, before writing it of as "[b]ad, bad, bad"? It was EEG though, so you got that right.

< snip >

How about a small lesson in logic?

Statement one: I get the impression that Mr. Bartholow had an outcome in mind.
Statement two: Having an outcome in mind is bad science.
Statement three: if one and two are true, then Bartholow engaged in bad science.

Perhaps, for nit-pickers such as yourself, I should've explicitly said statement two, rather than just implying it with 'Bad, bad, bad science, that.'

But, the bottom line is that no, despite what you may think, I did not need to read the paper before I made the comments that I made. Nothing I said challenged anything specific to the paper- I only made a comment and an initial observation based upon the video, the news story, and the press release from the University. I am well within my rights to do that. Feel free to disregard them, but you cannot say that they are completely without foundation or merit.

But now that I've read the paper (all glorious 19 pages of it), let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?

You know what? The bottom line is that this 'study' is gross sensationalism: a pseudo-science version of Jack Thompson's alarmism. Even if you skip some obvious questions about how they obtained their 'quantifiable' evidence (they mention using scalp electrodes, but in the footnotes section they state that they used a 28 electrode cap, which is vastly, vastly different and allows for an unacceptable level of potential variability in the opinion of most professionals, as well as 28 electrodes being too small a number of loci for diagnostic purposes. How long was baseline activity established for? Were subjects stimulated with 'neutral' and 'violent' imagery before playing the video game?), you can easily make the argument that the confounding factors could not be reasonably limited. For example, how many of the participants in the study could've had their tendency towards 'violence' (in the convenient context that Mr. Bartholow defined the word) affected by other media such as horror movies, violent graphic novels, or music that promotes violence and antisocial behavior (to name just one potential issue) before they took part in the study? Yes, they were screened as to whether or not they 'regularly' played violent video games, but there was nothing in regards to other potentially desensitizing media.

Look, I'm one of those people who actually do believe that violence in the media has some derogatory effects on society, but I think it's hopelessly simplistic and naive to attempt to pin it completely on video games. Violent imagery has become more and more prevalent across all media, and in my mind it is not only possible but probable that it has at least had a desensitizing effect on some of the more susceptible members of society. Given the trivial amount of 'data' that he generated and the limited scope of its application, I have to figure that either Mr. Bartholow is attempting to provide a convenient scapegoat for the problem, or he is attempting to attract attention by being 'controversial'.

Either way, it's a depressing example of how science is being at least warped and at worst whored out to serve personal and political agendas by many people. Dick Feynman is probably spinning in his grave.

I hate it when scientists jump to conclusions.

Phyroxis:

I never said Astronomy was invalid..? Nor that correlation was unacceptable.

You're repeating the line that correlation =/= causation. That doesn't mean it still can't be true. Astronomy is wholly based off correlation, so if you go "hurr correlation not causation" then you're discounting an entire science.

loodmoney:
-Snip-

Oh, I wasn't having anything directed at the study. I was just feeling like making fun of the bullshit social sciences. Ie, social psychology, which is closely linked to Sociology.

*Extremely* unfair, sensationalist and unprofessional titling going on here, even the comics on the website are taking the piss out of this.

Yeah, kind of old news there. Becoming jaded to violence isn't new to.. anything?

Ace IV:

Phyroxis:

I never said Astronomy was invalid..? Nor that correlation was unacceptable.

You're repeating the line that correlation =/= causation. That doesn't mean it still can't be true. Astronomy is wholly based off correlation, so if you go "hurr correlation not causation" then you're discounting an entire science.

Correlation =|= causation. That is a fact. From a definition standpoint, they are two separate concepts. They are not the same thing. That being said, correlation is a perfectly good tool for science.

You need to separate fact from opinion. Core to your attack on me is the assumption that I haven't separated the fact from opinion. Many people say "correlation =|= causation" with the silent following of "therefore it is not legitimate science". I do not. I say "correlation =|= causation, therefore we need to be careful of what we assert and make sure we don't overstep our scientific bounds."

Why? Because, as opposed to causal data, correlational data does not tell you what caused what. It just tells you that the two variables are related. One may cause the other, or there could be a third, unaccounted for, variable affecting the both of them. Therefore you just know that some relationship exists, not the specifics of the causal relation. Based on this, making causal attributions "x caused y" is outright lying, because you cannot know what caused what with correlational data. It is not possible.

At no point does correlation =|= causation say that correlation is trash and isn't scientific. Nor does asserting that fact mean that I disagree or have magically disproven the article (or in the case of your strangely tunnel-visioned attack on me, the science) in question. I never asserted that you need causation to do science. That [non existent assertion] is a core premise of your attack on me. I don't see why you continue to belabor the undisputed point [that causation is valid in science], there is no disagreement here.

Also, your childish hyperbole is outright insulting and mis-characterizing of the situation entirely. Its like a kid saying "I like kitties" and then you assume, from that alone, that he hates dog shows because there are no kitties there. Talk about jumping to conclusions.

Double-post as a result of some strange first-post-not-showing-up-problem. Delete this.

Ace IV:

Phyroxis:

I never said Astronomy was invalid..? Nor that correlation was unacceptable.

You're repeating the line that correlation =/= causation. That doesn't mean it still can't be true. Astronomy is wholly based off correlation, so if you go "hurr correlation not causation" then you're discounting an entire science.

Astronomy is based on correlation because everything is absurdly far away. You can't conduct proper experiments, so you make observations, draw conclusions, and revise these conclusions as new information is revealed by observation.

Basing psychology only on correlation would make no sense because it is testable. That example is a little out of context.

I think someone who gets smashed (drunk) at the pub will do a lot more damage than someone who like's to sit at home playing violent video games. I think it is down to the person. I don't quench at blood but I am not a fan of it either however I have played a lot of violent video games and consider myself a pacifism (meaning I will only resort to violence as a last resort). a kid who sits at home playing video games is probaly more afraid to hit someone than someone who is out every night.

"At least that's how associate professor Bruce Bartholow from the University of Missouri sounds when he describes his experiment that attempts to prove the correlation between violent games and aggression"

Duuuuude. Have you ever heard of libel? Insulting someone because you disagree with them is NOT covered under freedom of speech. Regardless of what you may have heard.

I would actually agree with the results. Repeated exposure to something will get you used to it, whether it be CP, violence, P in general, mad dentists, whatever. I'd argue that games are not the only influence, but come on.

Arden: The World of Shakespeare was ditched because "it would be too boring for people to play".

Nobody dies horribly so it's boring? It's like most insults leveled at the Wii. "Well I'd like to see it play CoD with decent frame rates". Can't shoot something, don't want anything to do with it. But again, not just games. TV, movies, music, books. We seem to get off on violence, so of course violence is what we are served. Over, and over, and over, and over again.

And yes, even a short session of blowing people up will cause more aggressive action. It's like, put a person in a polite and formal setting and they'll behave themselves. A few minutes in CoD and it's "GET OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY!! Can you believe that? Just walks in front of me while I'm shooting the FUCKWIT.".

Actual conversation. ^ ^

Yes the results are right, the conclusion.. Actually is correct. Participation in violence will make one more disposed to violence. IMO they should have gone a step further and said something along the lines of "Violence in media such as film and music will desensitize people to violence and video games are such a pervasive form of media that the impact can be higher than a movie. However both are bad, it is simply the level of attention given to the media and time spent on it which determines the full impact regardless of subject.".

Stopping at "Violence breeds violence" (I mean, who knew?) is however what they were looking at, not social ills as a result of various media.

Flailing Escapist:

Also, I'd like to know how many people they had in their study, you only see one.

lolwut. Did you even click on the link? You are not entitled to post unless you've read the link.

First sentence of the third paragraph, so just after the introduction.

During the study, 70 young adult participants were randomly assigned to play either a nonviolent or a violent video game for 25 minutes.

CosmicCommander:

Oh, I wasn't having anything directed at the study. I was just feeling like making fun of the bullshit social sciences. Ie, social psychology, which is closely linked to Sociology.

relating it to Marxism in your first post showed how little you know about it.

There's too much entertainment and media associated with murder or violent behavior for video games to be the main cause of it. Hell, in Roman days they watched unarmed men fight lions for entertainment. Also, people shouldn't take the games so seriously.

Meric:

CosmicCommander:

Oh, I wasn't having anything directed at the study. I was just feeling like making fun of the bullshit social sciences. Ie, social psychology, which is closely linked to Sociology.

relating it to Marxism in your first post showed how little you know about it.

Not really. Social Psychology and Sociology are fundamentally left-leaning fields. I was just bringing up Marx as he is usually seen as quintessential leftist.

And note I never related it to Marxism. I related it to Marx. The man and the ideology. Just about every bloody Sociology thesis in the history of man has quoted or rehashed something Marx said.

Cyberjester:

Flailing Escapist:

Also, I'd like to know how many people they had in their study, you only see one.

lolwut. Did you even click on the link? You are not entitled to post unless you've read the link.

First sentence of the third paragraph, so just after the introduction.

During the study, 70 young adult participants were randomly assigned to play either a nonviolent or a violent video game for 25 minutes.

I was being lolz, obviously. Why the fuck would they only have 1 person in their study? Besides compared to the 307,006,550 (july 2009, US census) people in the U.S. 70 people is one of the crappiest subject sizes ever, not to mention they only picked young adults. -> And thats my point: this "study" should've been shot down at the gate, it fails in almost everyway statistically possible.

Meh.. Statisticians are the greatest trolls ever. Dont feed em ;)

There was already a cracked article about this. Playing violent video games does make a person more aggressive in the short-term but playing video games that revolve around doing something good makes people nicer in the short-term as well. It works both ways.

Phyroxis:

Correlation =|= causation. That is a fact.

That doesn't mean anything though. It's still valid as evidence in science

I.N.producer:

Basing psychology only on correlation would make no sense because it doesn't make sense to me so therefore it isn't true.

That's what I saw when I read your post.

IS this a new study, cause I swear to god this has been done before, with similar results. People who played violent videogames were more desensitized to violent images. However, I believe it was also shown that they showed lower aggression in everyday situations.

Ace IV:

Phyroxis:

Correlation =|= causation. That is a fact.

That doesn't mean anything though. It's still valid as evidence in science

And you continue to disregard what I say. This is over.

Phyroxis:

And you continue to disregard what I say. This is over.

Nothing of value was lost. Cheers.

Then what does butchering an animal for soup do to me? Its dead and headless, but I'm still dismembering it.

But society would say, "Oh, what a good little cook. You'd make a good mother some day."

Ace IV:

I.N.producer:

Basing psychology only on correlation would make no sense because it doesn't make sense to me so therefore it isn't true.

That's what I saw when I read your post.

You could actually read my post and argue instead of misquoting me and dismissing my point, that's just a bit arrogant.

Here's what I actually said:

I.N.producer:

Astronomy is based on correlation because everything is absurdly far away. You can't conduct proper experiments, so you make observations, draw conclusions, and revise these conclusions as new information is revealed by observation.

Basing psychology only on correlation would make no sense because it is testable. That example is a little out of context.

One problem with basing psychology only on correlation is that there are so many correlations that results can be blamed on the wrong coincidence. If someone had grown up in a bad neighborhood, had abusive parents, had siblings involved in gang activity, played violent video games, and killed someone, it's not right to blame the murder only on video games.

If correlations are being made, the whole picture needs to be looked at. These studies do not include every aspect of the participants' lives and upbringings, and therefore, looking only at correlations is unwieldy at best.

That is why I said basing psychology only on correlation would make no sense, not the "my opinion is fact" reason you assumed.

Do any of these modern day Psychology Studies go back and take a look at Comic Books or Music to see if the claims from the 50's still hold up? Or are the modern threats more concerning because they didn't grow up with it?

I'm still amused by the claim that "Desensitized to Violence" = "Agressive Behavior." As if you can't have one without the other.

So, wait, if he claims that Video Games aren't the only cause (I did not take time to watch the video I'm going my mentions from other posts) then has he done studies on other causes? Have those been published and just not bought to our attention because it's not video game related?

My problem with the study is implication's he's drawing where he shouldn't.
The gamers were desensitized to violent imagery they were not desensitized to violence itself. There is a world of difference.

The person in the beggining is playing Mortal Kombat with the analog sticks that's just weird

On the contrary, violent video games make me a nicer person because I relieve all of my stress while playing the game & I don't feel like killing people after that. I used to kill 14-16 people a week before I played violent games. Now I only kill about 2 or 3. My doctor says I'm on the right track. Also I don't threaten my parole officer's family anymore. Violent games have definitely made me a better person.

Desensitisation isn't a bad thing for most people. Being overly sensitive to violent images likely means that you'll panic and react badly if such a situation ever occurs, and possibly lash out without thinking in order to cause harm. If you're desensitised, it makes sense that you would be calmer and more rational if violence was forced upon you.

The reason we don't go murdering people isn't because we're shocked by the sight of violence, it's because we think things through, know that it's a bad idea, and value human life. Desensitisation is only an issue for people that already have mental problems, everyone else is probably less dangerous because of it. Perhaps a game licence would be better fitting, where your emotional stability is assessed.

Even if video games did cause aggressive behaviour, I think it might be better to focus on other sports like hockey or boxing.

Greg Tito:

The experiment Bartholow conducted exposed some young adults to violent games like Call of Duty and Killzone (not sure which versions) while others played non-violent games. Bartholow then showed subjects violent images and neutral images - the examples given were a dude with a gun in his mouth and a man on a bike - and measured their brainwaves to gauge their reaction. The group of subjects who played the violent games had a demonstrably lower reaction to the violent image, which Bartholow said proves they were "desensitized" to violence.

In the next phase of the experiment, subjects engaged in a competition where they could blast noises at each other at whatever decibel level they chose. The group who played the violent games employed louder noises than the control group, which Bartholow believes proves that games cause aggression.

Taking the bolded bits, and leaving aside for the moment that in my opinion psychology is only a science is the absolute loosest definition of the term, I must point out that because he said "proves", we can disregard him. The goal of science is not to "prove" anything, merely to explain a particular phenomenon through observation and experimentation.

We can perform tests until the cows come home, and always get the same results, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we are completely right. What it means is that we are right to best of our understanding. And just because something always happens (like, for instance, the sun rising everyday), that doesn't mean that it will always and forevermore happen like that.

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