Video games don’t cause more violence, new study finds

Video games and violent movies have been admonished of any responsibility for real-life violence after major new research showed that there are no long-term links.

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The report, which was published in the Journal of Communication, involved two separate studies and also questioned former studies that have linked real-life and screened violence by using laboratory testing.

Christopher Ferguson, a psychologist from Stetson University in Florida, headed up the two studies that both looked at slightly different issues. The first saw his team compare US homicide rates between 1920 and 2005 to instances of violence in motion pictures. Ferguson and his team did report a moderate correlation between the two during the 1950s, however, this was reversed for the remainder of the century and during the 1990s.

The second study looked specifically at violent video games and the consumption of them was correlated with youth violence rates over the past 20 years. It found that playing video games actually contributed to a fall in violent crimes carried out by 12-to-17 year olds.

Even after revealing the two results, Ferguson reserved certain ire for past studies that have focused on laboratory testing and the fact that the outcomes are, at best, debateable.

“The degree to which laboratory studies faithfully capture the media experience is also debatable,” Ferguson said, according to The Guardian. “Many such studies provide exposure to only brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences, in which violence exposure is outside of a narrative context. The resultant aggressive behaviours are also outside a real-world context, in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves, who provide the opportunity for aggression.”

Years and years of laboratory research have failed to find anything linking video games to violence due to the fact only short-term reactions can be measured and also because various other psychological factors have an effect on violent behaviour.

The latest findings come after Oxford University’s research institute released a study this year that showed video games make people more aggressive due to bad in-game mechanics and not actual violence.

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Those groups that have attacked violent video games are unlikely to be put off by the latest findings, however, a change of tactics could well be employed.