Analysis: Relationship between Video Game Violence and Long-Term Neuropsychological Outcomes

Recently, I read a report on a research project investigating the relationship between playing violent video games and aggressiveness. The report had lots of strength, but it also has a few drawbacks. (As I am just a beginner at Social Sciences, I am not going to talk about the technical things)

Link of the original report published on 

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In the experiment, there was an important independent variable, which is to play violent video games or to play non-violent video games. The manipulation of the independent variable was done quite well. The experimenter has assigned an experimental group that was asked to play 16 hours of violent video games in the experiment, and a control group that was required to play 16 hours of non-violent video games. This is a good experimental design, as the students that went to the experimental and control group had similar characteristics at the beginning. By assigning two groups and exposing them in different conditions, it will be easy to find out the impact of violent video games on these students. However, based on the design of the experiment, there were still two drawbacks. Firstly, it might not be enough to just have two groups. The questionnaire and the EEG test the participants took before they started playing the video games might cause them to be expecting the result of the research study. Thus, they might be more aware of themselves being more aggressive and the group playing non-violent video games might be more aggressive than expected. Therefore, it might be better to have two more groups that do not take questionnaires (only EEG tests) before playing video games, one playing violent video games and the other playing non-violent video games. In this way, the impacts of video games on university students measured would be more accurate.

Secondly, as indicated in the report, male participants were more affected after playing the video games, which is partly because the main characters in the games are all male and it might be easier for male participants to identify themselves with the character. The experiment could be improved by having four gender-mixed groups: a group that plays a violent game with a male main character, a group that plays a violent game with a female main character, a group that plays a non-violent game with a male main character and a group that plays a non-violent game with a female character. In this way, it will be easier to see the effects of violent video games on both genders.

Measuring Instrument

Two measuring instruments are used in the research study, the questionnaire and the EEG. The questionnaire, in my opinion, is not quite reliable. One reason for it is that a questionnaire depends on how the participants felt about themselves, which is not accurate as being aggressive isn’t a good thing. The answers of the participants would be rather neutral and there would be fewer answers at the two ends of the scale, including “Strongly agree” and “Strongly disagree”.

The other measuring instrument used in the research study, EEG, was a very accurate type of measurement. (Although I don’t know how it exactly works,) By using EEG, the research study not only depends on how the participants felt about themselves, which the questionnaire does, but also has science-based shreds of evidence. This provides stronger and more reasonable support for the hypothesis that playing violent video games increases aggressiveness.

External Validity and Sampling Method

The external validity is very low in this research study. Firstly, the sampling method used in this research study is convenience sampling. All the participants in the research study are university students from local universities in Japan. This causes a great issue, as mentioned in the report: The results of the experiment can only be used to explain the effects of playing violent video games on university students in Japan at about the year 2014. This does not conform to the final result of the research study, playing violent video games causes aggressiveness, as the final result of the research study is universalistic.

Secondly, the procedure of the experiment could cause a severe threat. Although the experimental and control groups are randomly selected, the participants were still able to see that there were two groups. This formed a setting threat due to artificiality. The participants were likely to guess what the independent variable is (to play or not play violent video games) as the effects of playing violent video games were gradually becoming a more serious concern, and react to the fact that there was another group in the research study by having their own expectations of the results.

Thirdly, there are considerable differences between the participants. For instance, there were more male participants than female participants. This could lead to the possibility that the female participants are less representative than male participants. Another great difference was their ages. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 29. 11 years of age difference could cause this group of participants to have lots of differences both physically and mentally. These are all variables that were supposed to be fixed in the experiment and not fully considered, causing the result being less accurate in descri

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