Professor: It's clear, playing violent games increases aggressive behavior

Ohio St. scholar Brad Bushman says violent video games can also make people "numb to the pain and suffering of others."

by

For Ohio St. University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman, it's clear: playing violent video games can have real-world effects on players like increased levels of aggression. During a presentation last night in Provo, Bushman--who has been studying violent media a quarter century and has published some 150 papers--stated his findings after reviewing 381 studies with more than 130,000 participants.

Based on this research, Bushman concluded that, "Playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, emotional arousal, and aggression," according to Deseret News. Such games also make players "numb to the pain and suffering of others," he said.

"All these effects are massive and statistically significant," Bushman explained.

Bushman said there are some 140 studies with more than 68,000 participants that conclude there is most definitely a relationship between violent video games and aggressive behavior.

"People who say there aren't enough studies on violent video games don’t know what they are talking about," Bushman said. "There is little margin of error, and the findings are so statistically significant that there is no question that violent video games affect behavior."

Many Americans might not accept Bushman's findings for reasons including denial in the media, the third-person effect, false reasoning, an aversion for being told what to do, and cognitive dissonance, Bushman said.

One example of fallacious reasoning Bushman provided was the popular line: "I've played violent video games my whole life and I never murdered anyone." Bushman doesn't agree with this reasoning. "Big deal," he said. "Nobody ever murders," on a population percentage basis.

Overall, Bushman said what drives his enthusiasm for video game research is his passion to safeguard children. "We don't let our kids smokes cigarettes, drink beer, or play with guns. Let's protect our children. Let's make sure they don't consume age-inappropriate media."

Bushman also cited a study--that has not yet been published--in which researchers found games like Grand Theft Auto actually encourage players to give no thought to self-control.

"Violent video games discourage self-control," Bushman said. "The top two contributing factors to success in life are intelligence and self-control."

Finally, Bushman stressed that violent media is something "we can do something about," noting that in his own home, the TV and computers have passwords. He also does not allow TV screens in his children's rooms and takes away their iPads at night.

"They hate me, too," Bushman said. "Just like every other teenager in America."

Discussion

540 comments
serudek
serudek

Brad Bushman has a point with what he is talking about. Video games are getting very violent but, for me personally, I do not see a rise in anger when I play games like Grand Theft Auto 5. Now other games can get frustrating and then get me angry. It is not the violence that gets people angry and wanting to do bad things, it is more likely to be that they are stuck at a part and get fed up with the game as a whole. Bushman also talks about us needing to shelter our kids in the way of not giving them games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. I do agree that kids should play these games but I also understand that it is the parents right to do what they want with their child. He talks about Grand Theft Auto discouraging self-control. I can see this in young children who do not know better but they learn during their life. Now for a guy like me who is in college I can’t say some of things that are said in that game in public it may be rude or offensive, while a kid will just get hit and the parents will say don’t say that. 

x_hunter00
x_hunter00

So the point of this article is that he the "worst" dad ever!

StokeMeAClipper
StokeMeAClipper

Sounds like a crusader to me.

"Overall, Bushman said what drives his enthusiasm for video game research is his passion to safeguard children"

Doesn't seem like objectivity is his top priority.

zintarr
zintarr

One example of fallacious reasoning Bushman provided was the popular line: "I've played violent video games my whole life and I never murdered anyone." Bushman doesn't agree with this reasoning. "Big deal," he said. "Nobody ever murders," on a population percentage basis.


So by a population percentage basis his finding are statistically insignificant and prove nothing. However I am sure he is sending his BS finding to congress as "proof" that video games are the cause of all evils and as long as they provide him grants he will be willing to provide more "proof". This is the quality of phD produced by American colleges now. Instead of blaming the upbringing and environment of the study subjects its the evil video games. 


Instead of trying to save the children of others my advise is to save your own from the horrors of this pathetic country. Also professor, I do not need nor do I want you telling me how to raise my own children.

ZellyPoof
ZellyPoof

So what's the study group ages? 17-24?  Perfect time to test out hormonal guys and put them in front of a screen getting gibbed to test out the doctor's theory.  Pretty sure environmental upbringing has nothing to do with people's perceptions either.  Until they can pull out test subjects from zygotes, these studies are pretty irrelevant.  Gotta love ol' Bushman basically stating that he's absolutely right and anyone that disagrees basically is in denial. 

Sl4cka
Sl4cka

""We don't let our kids smokes cigarettes, drink beer, or play with guns."

Ahahahhahahha, yeah, they only start drinking and smoking when they're 21...

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

Two things are significant about what this guy says. One he mentions, which is parenting, and the other I didn't see, which is the huge mental health issues we have in America. But, we don't apparently want to really tackle either since we continue to always point the finger of cause at somebody or something else other than personal responsibility. Both are failing as we can see all the time.

Jasurim
Jasurim

The type of people violent games influence are those who already in some way have some sort of mental illness.  If it isn't a violent game supposedly influencing them to do something bad it will be something else instead.  So why the focus on video games?  You can not censor everything in the world to accommodate that problem, it's impossible.  So instead I wish these people would try to get core of the issue instead of throwing blame on an easy target, it's getting old.

Karchy
Karchy

Agressive behavior leeds to an increased consumption of violent games. Have you ever thought about this order Professor BRAINIAC?!

jakerscythe
jakerscythe

Wow, I'm glad he's not my father. His kids must be living in hell.

CloudY2J
CloudY2J

Also, I would argue that the bigger challenge facing American children is undiagnosed/untreated mental illness. Safeguarding kids just makes them want to disobey all that much more. Most of the "wild" kids I knew from my youth lived sheltered lives. They acted out because they had years of pent up aggression from NOT being able to release it in a healthier outlet - like playing video games. They're using a minority group to justify their findings, I'm sure. They sensationalize this in the initial article by quoting a hate mail received saying that "People who think violence is caused by video games should be shot". Assuming that wasn't said completely out of sarcasm (which is a big leap to make), you can't use the actions of a few to justify blanket statements like this. I would LOVE to see the full data of the report.


Also, if violent video games discourage self control (apparently the second-largest factor in one's success according to this), then why is it that the man who created DOOM also launches rockets into space? I'd say he's pretty successful. I mean, if Bushman can extrapolate data based on a small subset, then I can make reverse claims using an equally small subset.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am also curious how Prof. Bushman's review paper and the studies on which it's based rule out other factors that could have created both violent media consumption and aggression both as symptoms. The Desert News article made it sound to me that because the two were observed to have correlation, a specific one must have caused the other. That by itself is very bad science. How I wish I still had my school sub to all those science journals so I could read his actual paper.

CloudY2J
CloudY2J

Notice there's no citing of any of the studies that have concluded the exact opposite. Check out the book Grand Theft Childhood as an example.

billlabowski
billlabowski

I'm sure of it. Look at all the YouTube videos of people freaking out on each other over a video game. You don't need a PhD to figure that out. Tell a console peasant that his next gen console is the equivalent of a digested potato and see what happens. So not only is it video games, it's their aggressive behavior in general. If they had parents that gave a damn, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

anonymous102
anonymous102

You know, reading some of these comments.  I'm becoming more and more convinced that you "gamers" are over-aggressive in general.

adamwan
adamwan

Why does it matter? We've known for years that any kind of violent media causes increased aggression. However, what it does not do is cause increased violence. In fact, violent crime rates have been dropping for decades. We also already have the ESRB and ultimately it comes down to the parents protecting their kids from age inappropriate media rather than the producers.

Hoogovens
Hoogovens

So according to his opinion, there should be a significant increasing trend in violent crimes since the late 1980's.  The amount of violence in games (and other media) has steadily increased and the number of gamers has increased which would create more and more aggressive people which I assume would probably lead to more violent crimes.  Fairly reasonable assumption I think.  But I could swear I've heard many stats stating violent crimes have generally dropped over the last couple decades.  Which completely destroys his asinine theory.  Am I right?  If not, let me know, but I'd swear I've seen several reports that show violent crimes are decreasing over the long-term.

scraggly_bear
scraggly_bear

Not saying he's right or wrong, just think it's funny a lot of these comments fall into the behaviors he describes.

Fact of the matter is no one likes to think they can be influenced in any way and so when things like this are brought up it makes people mad. Even if it his research turned out to be right on all accounts, we'd never like to admit it because we don't want to be told. We wouldn't notice if we got numb anyway

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

To me, the central debate surrounding games and violence has never been about violent games's causing aggressive feelings. I know I feel aggressive when killing people in games. In life I am reluctant even to swat a fly, so naturally I have to adopt a different mentality even to kill digital people. The issue to me is whether regulating video game content is a valid policy, both in its efficacy and its legality, to reduce real life violence.

A key precursor question to the debate is to what degree violent video games increase aggression in real life. This question must be answered in scientifically acceptable exactitude before the policy question can even be addressed. Unfortunately, the newspaper article on his lecture does not reveal the extent of Professor Bushman's scientific conclusions; the simple statement that violent video games lead to aggression is woefully unhelpful.

I do take issue with Dr. Bushman's implication that violent entertainment media can be regulated similarly to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. In all these cases, scientific/engineering definitions have led to exact policy standards that regulate these items. So unless the US government is prepared to take the lead in establishing a legal rating system to define levels of violence, regulation is utterly inappropriate even if there is a clear correlation between violent media and real life violence.

edant79
edant79

You know what else increases violence?   ...'NOT' playing video games!


Most of the violence that occurs in our society happens outside,  ...where it sucks!

SiLenTWarrior29
SiLenTWarrior29

Did they ever stop to think that maybe... we do live in a violent world. From the beginning of time til now there was a food chain. Life is hard. That's why they say only the strong survive. A lion ain't gotta play or watch anything to show it how to live it's life. If it's hungry and it sees you.. heh someone's gonna die lol unless you got a gun if not. Your lunch. That's just nature.

noandno
noandno

"It's clear, playing violent games increases aggressive behavior"


It's not clear when other research says no

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

I'm no "professor", but wanting to punch my TV in after a frustrating game of CoD or Street Fighter does not equal a long-term increase in violent behavior.


isshiah
isshiah

Missing the point nicely, professor. 

crazeon
crazeon

I thought I lacked empathy because I might be a sociopath, at least now I can blame it on video games.

RicanV
RicanV moderator moderator

It's clear that degrees are being handed out left and right.

randomkidlol
randomkidlol

Only eddie would post an article that trolls as hard as this.

dragonkantus4
dragonkantus4

stop with texts people this is giving me lag and nobody read that crap

cpt0bv1us
cpt0bv1us

This whole "shelter the kids" scenario never works out. Not being able to do something will just make them want to do it more. Mr. Bushman's kids will grow up sneaking around to do things. I'm not saying let an 9 year old drink and smoke, but completely sheltering them is the very wrong approach. 


On to the matter of games. I'm sure people are more aggressive due to playing video games. However, there is less acting out on this aggression. Video games allow people to alleviate their aggression and stress. There is one major flaw in all of his "evidence" though; none of the studies actually study the majority of gamers. They don't study 12-19 year old's, which are the typical gamers. They study 25-50 year old's. Generally speaking, most people over 35 didn't really grow up playing a lot of video games. So of course when asked about video games and what they cause, they will just agree with what the media has been saying. Why is it that all of this is for the kids, when they don't bother talking to the kids? When they do a proper study of people that religiously play video games, and have grown up playing video games, then I will actually be interested. Because only then will the data be accurate.    


Also, is it just me, or does he sound rather aggressive in his presentation? 

JalalBlack
JalalBlack

"Let's make sure they don't consume age-inappropriate media " I agree , just stop attacking our M rated games .How come no one attacks the News , they're 24/7 , free and real .

ajstrike922
ajstrike922

Actually no professor. The current generation that play video games; are the most docile one in 50 years. In the seventies and eighties; cities used to be overrun with gangs and troubled youth. Young men who had nothing to do. My uncle grew up fighting; just to get home from school; all the way from the 6th grade till he finished high school.

Marsh87
Marsh87

Interesting research...but my question is,can we create games that are stimulating without excessive violence 

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

just like watching violent movies increases aggressive behavior. pfft. ignorance is bliss.

zintarr
zintarr

75 million people play video games in America...do the math professor dip shit.

radcrab123
radcrab123

in all honesty video games can affect people, but only children for a number of reasons that alot of people know thats why we say STOP LETTING 5 YR OLDS PLAY M GAMES COUGH COUGH COD COUGH FREAKIN COUGH

veryDERPY
veryDERPY

he clearly didn't see the fbi reports on crime for the past...50 years

cvjr
cvjr

@StokeMeAClipper Yup. After 25 years of collecting data that, based on this article, only supports his own opinion..Ohio State needs at least one new professor.

gunneysean
gunneysean

@jigar7Wow this BS again. 

1. More people are killed using cars, hands and feet, hammers, then guns per year in the U.S.A. 

2. Since 1993 violent crime has decreased by 19% while gun ownership has steadily increased this is from the CDC (source http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18319&page=R1)    

3.The NRA was educational and still is a educational institution (teaches gun safety) and not the boogeyman that idiot media makes them out to be. They just have an idiot for a spokesperson. 

4. All of the resent shootings but 2 were done with guns that were illegally obtained thus proving the theory that CRIMINALS DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT LAWS. 

It's not guns that are the issue, it is upbringing. Fact is Americans are working harder then ever to maintain a decent living for their families often working 2 to 3 jobs a week, that doesn't leave much time for for their kids thus they get wrong ideas about life from bad sources such as other kids with crappy upbringings. I had a parent that gave a damn and one that didn't (my dad was found to be unfaithful)  the one that did taught me a little something called common sense and caring for my fellow citizens. Yes, I played violent video games but I had good supervision when I did and they made sure that I knew it was fantasy.

pupp3t_mast3r
pupp3t_mast3r

@Sl4cka  Creating a repressive and ignorant household is the surest way to get your kids to smoke,drink and do everything else under the sun before they're 21.... >.<

brad12d3
brad12d3

@charlieholmes  It drives me crazy that nobody talks about either of these issues. If a young person goes on a shooting spree then the first thing people jump on is, "He played Call of Duty for hours on end, which obviously negatively effected him and desensitized him to violence. Laying the ground work to this aggressive behavior." However, they will barely touch upon that the person had been showing signs of severe mental illness through either things they have said or done leading up to the event. Often times parents talk about being fearful of their kids but are unable to get help because the child hasn't acted out yet. These important issues are pushed to the side in order to campaign against video games and other media and lay the blame of these tragedies on them. 


I agree that young kids should not be playing ultra violent video games, but you have to consider the fact that GTA has sold almost 30 million copies. So if these games are having devastating effects on the psyche of kids then why are we not seeing multiple killing sprees done by kids every day? Even if just one percent of the people who played GTA V became extremely violent due to the game then thats 300,000 people who we should be hearing about on the news.  


The research I have done suggest that the increased aggressive behaviors that may result from playing a violent game is on par with kids running around their neighborhood with nerf guns playing cops and robbers. Boys have been playing shooting games for centuries, it's just that the game has evolved from pointing toy guns at each other to shooting virtual guns at virtual people. The only thing new here is that these games are being labelled as the catalyst to ultra violent behavior in place of other far more important factors. It's sad really.

hsw3k
hsw3k

@edant79  I have scientific studies to show that being an asshole increases aggression. Ban assholes!

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@HowlPendragon I know exactly how you feel, but I think there is room to study further the effects of such frustration if it's repetitive and long term.

RicanV
RicanV moderator moderator

@isshiah  With all the violence in Batman I'm surprised you are online and not punching people in the face.

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

@RicanV How do you figure that?  Because his conclusion is different than your own?

Nepti
Nepti

@veryDERPY Read the article. If you read it, you need to read it again. The study has less to do with crime and more to do with behavior. Aggressive behavior as well as some of the other negative behaviors sited in the study are not criminal acts and thus do not show up on crime stats.


I'm an avid gamer. Love gaming and have been gaming since the Atari 2600. But even with a modest amount of objectivity, one has to consider that there are likely correlations between violent media and behavior. I use the word 'media' because I don't think negative behavior stems just from violent videogames, but from media in general (books, music, TV, Movies, & yes, videogames) - all of which have a good deal of violence in them.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

100% agree! Growing up in the 70-80's, my brother, his and my friends, and I, were very violent. We played guns all the time, blew up ants and ant hills with every small and large cherry bomb/M80 we could find, shot every bird we could see with pellet guns and later shotguns, and the list goes on and on. Proud of none of the killing stuff, but we were actually out in the real world doing all of this. And people looked at us as just normal kids growing up in a large city near the suburbs. And, move one suburb over and a large majority of those kids were growing up the same way. Yet, guess what, we got over it, didn't take it any further, and actually reversed course from all of it when we matured.

FBI Crime Index statistics keep going down every year and violent crime consistently decreases just about every year for the last 30. But, the media paints a picture of mass paranoia that warps the truth. They blame inanimate objects (guns), they blame movies, music, and now video games, but never point the finger at the core truth of the problem. It's peope that pull the trigger, wield the knife, raise the fist, and parenting and mental health are at the core of it all.

isshiah
isshiah

@RicanV @isshiah Meh, I didn't feel like commiting genocide today.


I might be able to fit in a murder or two next wek.

zintarr
zintarr


@Nepti @veryDERPY I guess you should never read a book, go to the movies, watch sports, have sex, drink alcohol...and the list goes on. Its called life, if you cannot handle it please go hide in a box.


I am more concerned about the moron driving past me a 80 mph than I am by someone that plays video games.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

One more thing.

It's funny how PHD types etc., can never look back 20-30 years and see how violent my brother, friends, and I were along with so many other NORMAL kids growing up back then. They never seem to be able to see beyond what's right in front of them and just want to prove the theory they have. They distort all of it to meet that goal. Somebody once said you can find many different theories in statistics. None of which may be right!

All to avoid the real issues. Parenting and Mental health!

Funny!

noladem504
noladem504

@Nepti @zintarr@veryDERPY 

well by your logic the dark age folks must have been playing some seriously violent video games.....think harder; but try not to hurt yourself. 

Nepti
Nepti

@zintarr @Nepti@veryDERPY If you walk away from what I wrote as don't ever engage any media of any kind and live in a box, we can't have a real discussion.