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Friday, March 05, 2010

Fresh debate on effects of violence in videogames

The long debate over whether violent videogames increase violent thinking and behavior in players has heated up as the result of a study published in this month's issue of Psychological Bulletin. A Washington Post blog does a great job of presenting both sides of this latest iteration, represented by the study's authors, led by psychologist Craig Anderson at Iowa State University, and the researchers who are the main objects of the study's criticism: Christopher Ferguson and John Kilburn of the department of behavioral applied science and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University. Anderson's study analyzed previous studies of 130,000 male and female players of various ages in the US, Europe, and Japan. In an accompanying commentary in Psychological Bulletin, Ferguson and Kilburn write that the study shows a bias in the studies it selected for review and "found only a weak connection between violent video gaming and violent thoughts and deeds." Check out the article for some other important views on the subject, including that of Cheryl K. Olson and Lawrence Kutner, co-founders and directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, who "studied real children and families in real situations" and published their results in the 2008 study "Grand Theft Childhood," which I blogged about here. [See also "Play, Part 2: Violence in videogames" last July and "Videogames & aggression: New study" about an early stage of Anderson's research.]

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