A review by the American Psychological Association (APA) has claimed a link exists between playing violent video games and increases in aggression and decreases in sensitivity to aggression.
The 49-page report from the APA Task Force on Violent Media does however indicate that there is “insufficient evidence” as to whether playing violent games also leads to criminal violence or delinquency.
The Task Force, established in January 2013, have reviewed scientific literature about the effects of violent video games released between 2005 and 2013.
The report states: “The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression.”
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have refuted the report in a statement to Polygon, citing the Supreme Court’s 2011 decision that it was unconstitutional to ban the sale of violent video games to minors in California.
“In tearing down similar faulty research,” the ESA say, “the U.S. Supreme Court specifically ruled that ‘psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.’ We could not state it better”.
The APA’s study comes in the wake of research led by psychologist Christopher Ferguson in November 2014, who found no link between gaming a violent behaviour and instead questioned the methodology of previous studies.
After researching violent media in the US, Ferguson and his team found that laboratory-based studies into the effects of violent games have provided “exposure to brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences” and that “the resultant aggressive behaviours are also outside a real-world context in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves.”
Ferguson added: “This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value.”