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."