University of Iowa study: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games

14 Apr

The Center for Sport Policy and Conduct (Sport Center) at Indiana University, Bloomington has excellent capsule definitions of violence, aggression, and deviance According to the Sport Center violence is defined as:

Violence can be seen as a form of physical assault based on an intent to injure another person or destroy the property of others. To continue this definition, “violence in sport violates the norms and rules of the contest, threatens lives and property, and usually cannot be anticipated by the persons affected” (Smith, 1983, p. 6). http://www.indiana.edu/~cspc/violence.htm

Aggression is defined as:

Aggression can be generally defined as all behavior intended to destroy another person’s property or to injure another person, physically or psychologically. It has been reported that action has to violate norms and rules shared by society in order to be defined as aggressive. Several experiments (Tedeschi, Gaes, & Rivera, 1977) found that a protagonist who intends to cause injury is only judged by witnesses to be aggressive when his behavior is also judged to be antinormative; in other words, when they are opposing the social rules that apply to that particular situation. Judgment is the same when the action or “intent to injure” constitutes a response to a previous provocation. If, however, the action exceeds the preceding deed, the revenge is viewed as excessive and judged as inappropriate and aggressive.

Deviance is defined as “Deviant behavior is usually that which departs from the norm; anything that goes against the accepted societal standards could be classified as such.”

Science Daily reported in the article, Life lessons: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games, study finds:

Children who repeatedly play violent video games are learning thought patterns that will stick with them and influence behaviors as they grow older, according to a new study by Iowa State University researchers. The effect is the same regardless of age, gender or culture. Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, says it is really no different than learning math or to play the piano…
Researchers found that over time children start to think more aggressively. And when provoked at home, school or in other situations, children will react much like they do when playing a violent video game. Repeated practice of aggressive ways of thinking appears to drive the long-term effect of violent games on aggression.
“Violent video games model physical aggression,” said Craig Anderson, Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State and co-author of the report. “They also reward players for being alert to hostile intentions and for using aggressive behavior to solve conflicts. Practicing such aggressive thinking in these games improves the ability of the players to think aggressively. In turn, this habitual aggressive thinking increases their aggressiveness in real life.”
The study followed more than 3,000 children in third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades for three years. Researchers collected data each year to track the amount of time spent playing video games, the violent content of the game and changes in a child’s behavior. The length and size of the study made it possible for researchers to detect and test even small effects.
Boys reported doing more physically aggressive behaviors and spending more time playing violent games than girls. However, even when researchers controlled for gender, the violent video game effects on behavior were the same for girls and boys.
To test whether violent games had a greater effect on children who were more aggressive, researchers compared children with high and low levels of aggression. Much like gender, they did not find a significant difference in terms of the effect from violent games.
“The results make a pretty strong argument that gender and age really don’t affect this relationship between video game play, aggressive thinking and aggressive behavior,” said Sara Prot, a graduate student in psychology at Iowa State. “There are lasting effects on thinking and behavior. You can’t say one group, because of their gender, age or culture, is protected from the effects in some special way.”
Children learn both good and bad behavior
More than 90 percent of children and teens play video games, and researchers say the majority of those games contain some type of violent content. However, that does not mean all games are bad and that children will only develop bad habits. These latest results build upon a previous study, published in Psychological Science, that analyzed the influence of prosocial media….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324181255.htm

Citation:

JAMA Pediatrics
Original Investigation|March 24, 2014
Mediators and Moderators of Long-term Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior Practice, Thinking, and Action
ONLINE FIRST
Douglas A. Gentile, PhD1; Dongdong Li, PhD2; Angeline Khoo, PhD2; Sara Prot, MA1; Craig A. Anderson, PhD1
[+] Author Affiliations
JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 24, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.63
Text Size: A A A
Article
Figures
Tables
References
Comments
ABSTRACT
ABSTRACT | METHODS | RESULTS | DISCUSSION | CONCLUSIONS | ARTICLE INFORMATION | REFERENCES
Importance Although several longitudinal studies have demonstrated an effect of violent video game play on later aggressive behavior, little is known about the psychological mediators and moderators of the effect.
Objective To determine whether cognitive and/or emotional variables mediate the effect of violent video game play on aggression and whether the effect is moderated by age, sex, prior aggressiveness, or parental monitoring.
Design, Setting, and Participants Three-year longitudinal panel study. A total of 3034 children and adolescents from 6 primary and 6 secondary schools in Singapore (73% male) were surveyed annually. Children were eligible for inclusion if they attended one of the 12 selected schools, 3 of which were boys’ schools. At the beginning of the study, participants were in third, fourth, seventh, and eighth grades, with a mean (SD) age of 11.2 (2.1) years (range, 8-17 years). Study participation was 99% in year 1.
Main Outcomes and Measures The final outcome measure was aggressive behavior, with aggressive cognitions (normative beliefs about aggression, hostile attribution bias, aggressive fantasizing) and empathy as potential mediators.
Results Longitudinal latent growth curve modeling demonstrated that the effects of violent video game play are mediated primarily by aggressive cognitions. This effect is not moderated by sex, prior aggressiveness, or parental monitoring and is only slightly moderated by age, as younger children had a larger increase in initial aggressive cognition related to initial violent game play at the beginning of the study than older children. Model fit was excellent for all models.
Conclusions and Relevance Given that more than 90% of youths play video games, understanding the psychological mechanisms by which they can influence behaviors is important for parents and pediatricians and for designing interventions to enhance or mitigate the effects.

Here is the press release from the University of Iowa:

Life lessons: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games
Posted Mar 24, 2014 3:00 pm
AMES, Iowa – Children who repeatedly play violent video games are learning thought patterns that will stick with them and influence behaviors as they grow older, according to a new study by Iowa State University researchers. The effect is the same regardless of age, gender or culture. Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, says it is really no different than learning math or to play the piano.
“If you practice over and over, you have that knowledge in your head. The fact that you haven’t played the piano in years doesn’t mean you can’t still sit down and play something,” Gentile said. “It’s the same with violent games – you practice being vigilant for enemies, practice thinking that it’s acceptable to respond aggressively to provocation, and practice becoming desensitized to the consequences of violence.”
Researchers found that over time children start to think more aggressively. And when provoked at home, school or in other situations, children will react much like they do when playing a violent video game. Repeated practice of aggressive ways of thinking appears to drive the long-term effect of violent games on aggression.
“Violent video games model physical aggression,” said Craig Anderson, Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State and co-author of the report. “They also reward players for being alert to hostile intentions and for using aggressive behavior to solve conflicts. Practicing such aggressive thinking in these games improves the ability of the players to think aggressively. In turn, this habitual aggressive thinking increases their aggressiveness in real life.”
The study followed more than 3,000 children in third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades for three years. Researchers collected data each year to track the amount of time spent playing video games, the violent content of the game and changes in a child’s behavior. The length and size of the study made it possible for researchers to detect and test even small effects.
Boys reported doing more physically aggressive behaviors and spending more time playing violent games than girls. However, even when researchers controlled for gender, the violent video game effects on behavior were the same for girls and boys.
To test whether violent games had a greater effect on children who were more aggressive, researchers compared children with high and low levels of aggression. Much like gender, they did not find a significant difference in terms of the effect from violent games.
“The results make a pretty strong argument that gender and age really don’t affect this relationship between video game play, aggressive thinking and aggressive behavior,” said Sara Prot, a graduate student in psychology at Iowa State. “There are lasting effects on thinking and behavior. You can’t say one group, because of their gender, age or culture, is protected from the effects in some special way.”
Children learn both good and bad behavior
More than 90 percent of children and teens play video games, and researchers say the majority of those games contain some type of violent content. However, that does not mean all games are bad and that children will only develop bad habits. These latest results build upon a previous study, published in Psychological Science, that analyzed the influence of prosocial media.
That earlier cross-cultural study, led by Prot, Gentile and Anderson, found that prosocial media – video games, movies or TV shows that portray helpful, caring and cooperative behaviors – positively influence behavior regardless of culture. The study, the first of its kind, tested levels of empathy and helpfulness of thousands of children and adolescents in seven countries. In combination, these studies show that the content of the video games youth play – prosocial or antisocial – determines their impact on real world behavior.
-30-
Contacts Douglas Gentile, Psychology, 515-294-1472, dgentile@iastate.edu Craig Anderson, Psychology, 515-294-3118, caa@iastate.edu Sara Prot, Psychology, 515-294-1742, sprot@iastate.edu Angie Hunt, News Service, 515-294-8986, amhunt@iastate.edu
– See more at: http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2014/03/24/violentgamesbehavior#sthash.wx5lqpjA.QnKTrSDE.dpuf

Science Daily reported in the article, Violent video games delay development of moral judgment in teens:

Mirjana Bajovic of Brock University set out to discover whether there was a link between the types of video games teens played, how long they played them, and the teens’ levels of moral reasoning: their ability to take the perspective of others into account.
She quizzed a group of eighth-graders (aged 13-14) about their playing habits and patterns, as well as determined their stage of moral reasoning using an established scale of one to four.
Blagovic’s results, published in Educational Media International, indicate that there was a significant difference in sociomaturity levels between adolescents who played violent video games for one hour a day and those who played for three or more.
Bajovic suggests that both the content of the games and the time spent playing contribute to the fact that many of the violent gamers achieved only the second stage of sociomoral maturity… http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204101716.htm

That old saying that you are what you eat referring to what people put in their stomach is looking more like children and others are what the watch, read, and put into their mind.

Related:

Stanford University study: Sexualization of women in the tech world
https://drwilda.com/tag/how-using-sexy-female-avatars-in-video-games-changes-women/

Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction https://drwilda.com/2013/04/13/two-studies-social-media-and-social-dysfunction/

Brock University study: Violent video games can delay children’s moral judgment
https://drwilda.com/2014/02/07/brock-university-study-violent-video-games-can-delay-childrens-moral-judgment/

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