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Cheryl Olson1, Lawrence Kutner2
  • 1 Independent researcher, San Carlos, California 94070, The USA
  • 2 Center for Mental Health and Media, 220 Panama Street, Stanford, California 94305-4101, The USA

Viewpoints and Flashpoints in the Study of Video Game Violence and Aggression

2015. Vol. 12. No. 1. P. 13–28 [issue contents]

Researchers from different backgrounds have approached the topic of violent video games and aggression with varying assumptions, methods, and goals. Researchers from an experimental psychology orientation seek to test theories under controlled conditions, and assume that all children are at risk of harm from acting out violence during gameplay.  They champion policies to reduce youth exposure to violent game content. Researchers from applied fields such as public health, clinical psychology and criminology assume that video game effects (negative or positive) will vary by child, circumstance and content, and seek to identify high-risk patterns via studies in real-world settings. These different lenses illuminate ongoing disagreements about the relationship, if any, between violent video games and harmful aggressive behaviors. Some disagreements could be mitigated through greater clarity in definitions and methods.  For example, confusion arises when researchers fail to clearly define “aggression”; treat aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as part of a continuum; or view aggression as equivalent to harmful intent or violence. Studies suggest that media violence researchers, like all humans, tend to disproportionately seek out and value evidence that supports their point of view. Actively searching for common ground, and welcoming new researchers from a variety of disciplines, may help move the field forward.

Citation: Olson, C., & Kutner, L. (2015). Viewpoints and Flashpoints in the Study of Video Game Violence and Aggression. Psychology. Journal of Higher School of Economics, 12 (1), 13-28
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