Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brandon Keim

“Video games could be expected to have a larger effect than media violence. The player is participating. They’re being reinforced,” says Rowell Huesmann, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. “The important thing is repetition. I think any child can play Grand Theft Auto or a first-person shooter a few times, and it’s not going to have much effect. But if they play day in and day out, over a period of years, any psychologist who understands the power of observational learning is going to find it hard to believe that it’s not going to have a major effect on increasing risk.”

Slutkin and Huesmann believe that violence is contagious, spreading in a manner similar to infectious disease, but with behaviors rather than microbes as the instruments of transmission. Of course, pathogens don’t always cause disease: Many other factors, such as a person’s immune system strength, alter an infection’s course. In keeping with this analogy, first-person shooters weaken the psychological immune system. They change the odds of whether violence takes root or whether a person can resist it.

From What Science Knows about Video Games and Violence February 28 2013, NOVA Next via PBS