A long-standing debate has been the impact of video games on the minds of those playing. It’s natural for some to wonder whether a correlation exists between violent video games and aggression within people. Fortunately, give the size of this debate, there has been ample research performed on the topic in an effort to reach an answer.
Let’s look deeper into the debate:
Data has been studied on both sides of the argument and there seems to be information that indicates video games can cause aggressive behavior, whereas other sources claim that data shows video games will not cause aggressive thoughts or actions. So, what’s the truth?
One study of 227 college students seemed to indicate that those who were habitually aggressive may be particularly vulnerable to aggressive tendencies caused by violent video games. In a follow up study, another 200 students were randomly assigned to play either a violent or non-violent video game.
Those who played the violent video game punished their colleagues (with an air siren noise or something similar) for a longer period of time than those who did not play the violent game. This particular study found that violent video games in which a player must learn violent tendencies are even more dangerous.
With this said, The Royal Society published a study that claimed previous studies into the topic were fundamentally flawed.
How Have Studies Potentially Been Flawed?
When conducting studies into any topic, it’s important not to accidentally prime the subjects of the studies in such a way that would impact data results. One such problem with data collection in these studies was presented to be a large flexibility in how the violent games where operationalized.
Essentially, researchers presented participants with questions that either went down a “violent or non-violent” path, creating a sort of fork in the road that could affect data.
Additionally, a major problem is that much of the data from these studies is self-reported by the people who are playing the video games. This requires a large amount of accurate reporting, but young people are prone to something known as mischievous responding. Basically, participants exaggerate their responses in a way that is logically incoherent or invalid.
This doesn’t necessarily invalidate studies that have been performed on the topic of violent video games and aggression, but it could point to some data points being off.
So, do Violent Video Games Cause Aggression?
Data collected as to whether or not playing violent video games causes aggression is potentially flawed and in need of review, as covered above. Studies that have found violence in video games is not correlated with aggressive behavior aim to measure normal adolescent or adult violence in an effort to see if video games increase the level.
Based on similar studies, there doesn’t appear to be a statistical increase in aggressive behavior among the age groups typically exposed to violent video games. While this certainly doesn’t definitively answer the question, it creates more questions.
The Bottom Line
The topic of whether or not video games cause aggression is controversial and there are a number of questions that have yet to be asked. With that in mind, most data studies have been determined to be incomplete or flawed in their methodology. This doesn’t provide a solution either way, but more studies are sure to be published in the coming years.
Regardless, there are countless people who play violent video games, yet statistically there isn’t evidence of large upticks in aggressive behavior in recent years. While the data is still being perfected, there isn’t conclusive evidence as to whether or not violent video games spark aggressive behaviors.