Letter urges APA to review media violence research

Over 200 Psychologists and academics want an objective review of media violence research

More than 200 psychologists and researchers have sent an open letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) welcoming the formation of a task force to review media violence research. According to the letter, previous research has been tainted by "methodological flaws, ideological biases, and conclusions drawn from inconsistent or weak evidence." The group wants the new APA task force to look into that research and make sure it's scientifically sound.

"Much is at stake regarding the way scientific information is communicated to the general public, the way in which policy statements can set scientific agendas and the credibility of the field as a careful and objective science," the letter said. "We appreciate the APA's efforts to revisit the topic and believe that, given the scientific progress in the field, there are unprecedented opportunities to develop a solid basis for a careful and nuanced communication of research findings to the general public."

"Fundamentally, we are of the belief that the task force has a tremendous opportunity to change the culture of this research field to one which is less ideological and open to new theories, data and beliefs," it continued.

The Entertainment Software Association applauded the letter, noting that research points to there being no link between media violence and violent crimes.

"A host of respected researchers and numerous authorities - including the U.S. Supreme Court - have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between violent media and real-world violence," said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. "We agree with these experts that additional APA's analysis must be objective, fact-based, and peer-reviewed, and must comprehensively examine all relevant factors."

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Latest comments (8)

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve4 years ago
I'm all for this. Whether it returns good or bad news for behavioural links, it could hopefully lead the way to a solution to the polarised arguments which achieve nothing. I'm also glad that it isn't just targeting games, which seem to be unfairly cast into the spotlight due to being the younger medium, whereas it's just as plausible that music and movies / TV could have the same effects.

I have confidence that the study will disprove that violent media causes violent behaviour due to other research in the past, but my worry is that if there are some links found, governments will just take the easy route of complete censorship, and also that the press will jump on the story blow it up with sensationalism. You can bet that it wont be front page news if no links are found though, call me a pessimist but it seems the best we can hope for is that the scapegoat brigade just gets tired and turns its gaze to something else more fragile like in the past.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
It has been done.
The US government paid for the research after a college massacre.
The book of the findings is called Grand Theft Childhood. I have a copy and have read it. Well worth the effort.
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João Namorado Project Manager, Portugal Telecom4 years ago
There was also the study by Tanya Byron for the BBFC.

But if my understanding is correct, what is being requested is not a new study onto the matter but a review of all previous studies and scientific articles, to assess which of them had solid bases and reached meaningful conclusions and which were just biased or ill conceived studies that should be disregarded.

I remember reading a study many years ago where they just asked teenage delinquents if they liked videogames. Funny enough, the favorite game that all mentioned was Tetris.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
And because nobody else has done it yet...

lol @ "objective"
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
I wrote this in 2008!:

Violent games cut crime

Yes it’s true, violent games cut crime. The exact opposite of what Hillary Clinton, Gordon Brown, Jack Thompson and a myriad of opportunist ignorant journalists have been saying. This is the finding of Patrick Kierkegaard of the University of Essex in report in the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry.

“Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, while video games have steadily increased in popularity and use.” “With millions of sales of violent games, the world should be seeing an epidemic of violence. Instead, violence has declined.” Obvious truths that politicians and journalists choose to ignore.

“However, it is possible that certain types of video game could affect emotions, views, beahviour and attitudes”. “Similar to books, video games permeate a person’s life and will likely interact with numerous other factors”. It’s nice to see someone at last realising that games are just another form of popular entertainment media. It is about time that politicians and journalists also realised this.

I have always thought that games act as a catharsis, as way for people to let off steam. This is supported by anecdotal evidence in Grand Theft Childhood and by this new report. But obviously the effect of games on people can be complex, depend on a whole load of other factors and vary widely between individuals. In his report Patrick Kierkegaard says: “Computer games can, of course, lead to violent behaviour under certain circumstances – such as triggering aggression in certain people that are already predisposed to violence.” It seems that the door is open for a lot more research.

A very interesting point is that this report has been very lightly covered by the British media. If it had concluded the opposite it would have been all over the front pages.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve4 years ago
While I agree with a lot of what you've put in that post, it seems to suggest that correlation equals cause which is never really a solid base to build an argument on. Does the study actually compare figures of people that do/don't play games against how many crimes that group committed?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
This is a waste of money, period. All they need to do is compile all the studies to date and see that (guess what): there's NO data that shows a 100% direct correlation. Eh, more flushing sounds and money down the crapper. Actually, with the current shutdown... this probably won't even happen until it's back to "normal" in this dumb country...
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Sean Warren Inspector 4 years ago

Feast or famine, freedom or tyranny.

The fact is, both relations are symbiotic. Violent games exist and sell because people are violent and the media is relevant and stimulating to them. People are violent because they exist in a violent environment and appreciate stimulation that mimics that violence in cartoon like exaggerated caricature of that violence. Often to positive and negative effect. In a positive sense, it can help individuals cope with the varying levels of violence in their lives. In the negative, it can lead to obsessive compulsion to pursue violence as a means to cope with their competitive environments.

How this is a mystery when our entire international social system is based upon capitalistic competition, and the notion that this topic requires a panel of expert inquiry at a federal level, to this very day(no doubt this debate started when cave men played with rocks and sticks), is just further proof that if you make a point, it doesn't really matter, someone will still require another variation of it to sate their lust to be pandered to while they cope with disagreeing with someone.

The excessively stupid part is that this is like a pin, and the pointy end is over there, and the two parties look at the pin from opposite sides, and the pin obstructs their view of one another... they see the pin, and despite their lack of a structural engineering degree, intuition tells them something is inherently dangerous about it. They then commence formulating a thesis about the danger of the other side, set their mind to conclude that that is the most likely probability, then go make a sandwich. Eventually they get around to pursuing validation of their views while enjoying social commentary on the pin and low and behold, 2 factions are violently debating those same 2 sides of the pin. They join in and argue that their side of the shaft is okay(note that the shaft is shiny, smooth, and cylinder with an actual point far out of their sight).
Recommence sandwich.

Meanwhile, the pin gets banished to another dimension and everyone moves on to using staples, and tailors are forced to wonder what in the world happened to the things that used to cloth together, and think to themselves, there must be a better way.
4ooo years later, someone revolutionizes industry, and makes a crazy safety pin w/o a safety that saves millions of (wo)man-hours in work.
Yay! metaphor, and ridiculous social patterns.

Anyway, my point is, its irrelevant and barely an intellectual distraction from the real issue at hand, which I don't see anyone really giving much of a crap about anyway.
So, would everyone really up and commit suicide and lose the will to produce/reproduce if they don't have competition to stimulate their sense of purpose? If not, how in the name of mike could/would they still be made to serve their economic superiors lust for ego inflation?
How can we do it with out incentivization?
Just no?
Well then, learn to love violence, because they are essentially one and the same, simply at two different magnifications of sociobehavioral conditions.
Stratification may have specific benefits, but not w/o its share of equally negative side effects and violence is one of those things where money alone is not the most effective insulator.
Indeed, Sir Newton was on to something more than just the "laws of physics".
Theme of our next metaphor: Gravity

Why is it that anything to do with governance is so taxing?

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Sean Warren on 3rd October 2013 4:39am

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