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A recent study have linked violent games to increased aggressive behavior among Japanese and American teenagers.

In this study the researchers evaluated three different groups of teenagers with ages ranging from 9-18yrs old.  These groups were further binned into two different categories:  teenagers in Japan or in America. Different modes of measurement was used to evaluate “aggression” in each group:  the 6 item Buss and Perry physical aggression scale, the 1-item self report measure of frequency of physical aggression (involving punching or kicking someone) in the last month, and an index of teacher, peer, and self-reports of physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking, and getting into fights in the last year.

The average odds ratio across the 3 samples was 2.10 (teenagers are two times more likely to express aggression than those not exposed to violent video games).  Furthermore, the findings also contradict another popular alternative hypothesis:  that only highly aggressive children (either by nature, culture, or other sociological factors) will become more aggressive if repeatedly exposed to violent video games.

This is one of the many studies suggesting a link between video games and violence.  Despite their findings this article should not be used to solely explain the phenomenon and should not be quoted to make this association.  First of all, each sample used different methods to measure “aggression.”  They are not normalized to one standard method.  Social and developmental psychologists typically define “aggression” as an act conducted by 1 person with the intent of hurting another person; it is not an emotion, thought, or intention.  Only two of the three measurements used in this paper accurately fits this definition.  Secondly, the odds ratio is low.  An odds ratio of 2.10 may be statistically significant, but is it clinically relevant?  A world renowned biostatiscian teaching at our school believes findings are only relevant when the odds ratio is 3.0 or above.  Good statistical analysis is largely dependent on the discretion of the researchers involved.  Finally, the time lag between the 1st and the 2nd assessment was approximately 4-6months.  It is too short to measure any kind of significant long-term effect a video game may have on any teenager.

Despite my skeptical view of scientific studies, I do quietly believe there is a correlation between video games and aggression.  Whenever I play Mario Bros, I have this irresistible urge to stomp on turtles…especially teenage turtles…who are mutants…and who practice ninjitsu…

Wanna know how violent you are?  Try the Buss and Perry physical aggression scale and see where you stand.

SOURCE: Yahoo! News, “Longitudinal Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggression in Japan and the United States