The latest issue of The American Psychological Association’s Bulletin is out! As excited as I am at the prospect of reading “Understanding disclosure decision making and postdisclosure outcomes among people living with a concealable stigmatized identity,” here’s what really caught my eye: “Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: A meta-analytic review.” For those of you who don’t get wood at the word “tenure,” a meta-review is a study of studies. Make consensus? It sure does! As USMC Private Pyle used to say in his ongoing attempts to induce Sgt. Carter’s apoplectic fits, surprise, surprise, surprise! People who make their living from studying the effects of violent videogames (NB: NOT videogame makers) agree that gun-oriented interactive electronic entertainment makes its players more violent. Or predisposed towards violence. Ish. Maybe. More specifically . . .
Meta-analytic procedures were used to test the effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, empathy/desensitization, and prosocial behavior. Unique features of this meta-analytic review include (a) more restrictive methodological quality inclusion criteria than in past meta-analyses; (b) cross-cultural comparisons; (c) longitudinal studies for all outcomes except physiological arousal; (d) conservative statistical controls; (e) multiple moderator analyses; and (f) sensitivity analyses. Social–cognitive models and cultural differences between Japan and Western countries were used to generate theory-based predictions. Meta-analyses yielded significant effects for all 6 outcome variables. The pattern of results for different outcomes and research designs (experimental, cross-sectional, longitudinal) fit theoretical predictions well. The evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.
So now you know. And you didn’t even have to spend $11.95.