Do Violent Video Games Lead to Real World Violence?
As our society becomes more reliant on technology and the mass media, the notion that the media may have a profound influence on people has become more prevalent. Research into Media Violence and its effects on values, beliefs and behaviour has been well documented over the past 50 years.
This systematic review, looking at both research reports and other relevant literature relating to the topic explores whether or not violent video games lead to real world violence. This topic has been selected due to the unique participatory nature of this type of media. The review demonstrates the inconclusive nature of the ...view middle of the document...
As real world violence is difficult to measure, a lot of the research is either anecdotal or relates to values and attitudes. While this is not ideal, at present, this is the data available.
According to Browne & Hamilton-Giachritsis, there is a positive correlation between violent entertainment and aggressive behaviour (2005). Research attesting to this looks at both short and long term impacts. Short term impacts associated with exposure to media violence often look at priming, arousal and mimicry (Bushman & Huesmann, 2006; Huesmann, 2007). Theories of aggression including the General Aggression Model (GAM) (DeWall, Anderson & Bushman, 2011), predict that repeated simulation of antisocial behaviour will lead to increased antisocial behaviour outside of the simulated event/s (Sestir & Bartholow, 2010). A 2010 study by Sestir & Bartholow consisted of 188 undergraduate students whose results support the notion of short-term effects. Participants played either a violent or non-violent video game for a period of 30 minutes and self-reported their emotions. The study hypothesized that violent video games cause increased aggressive thoughts relative to playing a non-violent game soon after playing. Results confirmed the hypothesis and have been replicated in a number of other studies (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Anderson and Bushman, 2001; Carnagey and Anderston, 2005; Bartholow, Sestir and Davis, 2005 (cited in Sestir & Bartholow). Results also showed these effects were not lasting. A major limitation of this study is that aggression was not measured prior therefore a baseline of aggressive tendencies cannot be seen.
The research also presents the idea that there are long-term effects of violent video games. These are changes to social scripts, world schemas and desensitization (Flannery, Vazsonyi, Waldman, 2007). In Olsen’s study, the researchers looked at why boys play violent video games, the role of video games in social situations and the influences video games have on the thoughts and feelings of the participants. 42 seventh and eight grade boys from Boston who were regular users of violent video games, participated in focus groups. Participants noted they felt they had a clear distinction between right and wrong and violent games did not influence them. They were however concerned for younger players whom they perceived were not as familiar with right and wrong. Their concerns focused on learning the wrong social scripts including violence and other inappropriate behaviour. In a study of 150 elementary school students in America, Funk and associated researchers asked participants to complete 4 surveys. The purpose of the study was to look at the relationship among the exposure to media violence, real life violence and desensitization (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold & Baumgardner, 2004). Results supported the hypothesis with exposure to violent games being associated with lower levels of empathy and stronger pro-violent attitudes. While this does...