Video games can do many things, tell stories, improve memory, entertain, and socialize, but most of the time you hear about video games, it’s becuase they’re being linked to violent behaviour.
Studies have come up with all kinds of answers, games increase violent tendencies, they decrease overall crime, they promote http://wkuherald.com/news/article_bac45bae-439c-11e0-8cd6-00127992bc8b.html, they promote anti social behaviour. Despite the variety of conclusions, the question has been the same, what does the game do to the player?
That’s where Christopher J. Ferguson and his team at Texas A&M comes in, he thinks we’ve been looking at thee problem the wrong way. In his paper Personality and media influences on violence and depression in a cross-national sample of young adults: Data from Mexican Americans, English and Croatians Ferguson does more than just look at how violent media affects the subject, but how the subject’s personality affects their behaviour.
And as the title suggests, he sampled youths from Croatia and England as well as Mexican American young adults. It’s also important to note that both male and female subjects were used, after all if violent video games caused violent behaviour, the females should be affected in a similar way.
Yet when the subject’s personality traits were taken into account, any correlation between violent media and violent behaviour disappeared. Not only that, but the Croatian sample actually showed a decrease in violent behaviour when exposed to games, while exposure to television predicted an increase in violence.
It’s here that Ferguson brings up an interesting point about the nature of games vs television,
“It may be possible that video game players turn to violent games to reduce their anger over life stress, whereas a wider population of television viewers are not similarly motivated. Although controversial, there has been some research to indicate that young adults do use video games to reduce anger and stress”
The bottom line for Ferguson however, is that violent media can’t be used to predict even a casual link between exposure and behaviour. Instead it turns out (predictably) that the best indicator of an individual’s behaviour is their personality.
Which isn’t to say you can ignore your roommate when he screams death threats into his television while you’re trying to study (Sorry Megan), but you should really only have to worry about it if they tend to act out aggressively in other facets of their life (Which I don’t, you can relax now)