Report Linking Violent Media To Child Behavior Gets Removed Following Investigation
Violent Media and Kids
(Last Updated On: March 31, 2017)

A report from professor Brad. J. Bushman from Ohio State University that was featured in the Gifted Child Quarterly magazine attempted to show that violent media greatly affected gifted children. According to Bushman’s report, showing gifted children 12 minutes of violent animated violence led to substantial drops in both the gifted and non-gifted kids’ verbal and communication skills. The report also indicated that violent media affected the gifted kids to a much greater degree. Despite the findings, the report has now been retracted.

According to the website Retraction Watch, shortly after the report was published, postdoctoral fellow Josh Hilgard caught wind of it and began looking into the data present in the report; Hilgard also began doing some follow-up research.

According to Hilgard, something seemed off about the report, where he states…

“First, I found that the huge effect reported was not an error or typo. That struck me as pretty unusual, considering the effect size that’s typical in this type of psychology research. Second, such data — especially in children –tends to be quite noisy. But when I plotted the data, it became visually clear that everyone in the treatment group decreased consistently by similar amounts. It was very unusual for every single data point to behave in such a similar way.”

Hilgard tried doing further follow-ups with the other researchers who participated in the report, but they could not be reached due to one of the authors being in Turkey. As such, the co-author was unreachable due to the coup that was eventually suppressed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Nevertheless, Hilgard questioned various data points that didn’t seem to quite align up regarding the research, and since Bushman nor the co-authors from Turkey could address Hilgard’s questions, it was decided to retract the report.

There’s a notice on the National Association for Gifted Children website, where they announced the retraction, writing…

“Joseph Hilgard, postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, contacted the journal with questions regarding the pattern of results and conducted reanalyses of the data that called into question the credibility of the data. Unfortunately, the data collection procedures could not be verified because the author who collected the data (Cengiz Altay) could not be contacted following the attempted coup in Turkey. Therefore, as the integrity of the data could not be confirmed, the journal has determined, and the co-authors have agreed, to retract the study.”

Retraction Watch noted that the same group for this study was also behind another article that was retracted as well. That report was also headed up by Brad J. Bushman. The report was titled “The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence” and was originally published in May of 2007.

According to a separate report from Retraction Watch, Bushman also had yet another article retracted in February of 2017. The research study was originally published back in 2012, but OSU retracted it after Bushman was very recently asked some questions about the data and he could not answer the questions adequately, so the university had the research report retracted. The report was titled “Boom, Headshot!” and attempted to link violent video game violence with real world aggression and violence.

So why are there so many reports misrepresenting the data or constantly attempting to find links between real world violence and games? This seems especially relevant when most neutral reports seem to indicate that there are no strong links between behavioral influence from video games and aggression that leads to violent acts in the real world.

As noted by Christopher J. Ferguson and John Colwell in their report “Understanding Why Scholars Hold Different Views On The Influence Of Video Games On Public Health”, published on March 29th, 2017, they explain that it may have something to do with preconceived negative notions toward youth and video games in general…

“There have likewise been broader concerns about the culture of video game violence research in which researchers, influenced by politics, may have been overeager to find video game influences, resulting in a “self-fulfilling prophesy” effect. For instance, scholars who misrepresent the aggression field as more consistent than it is are now known to report higher effect sizes in their research than scholars who present balanced literature reviews.”

In the report they show a diagram of a cycle of negative stereotypes and fear-mongering being perpetuated thanks to biased research and media outlets looking to cash in on the controversy.

Unfortunately, when the media continues to push for the same kind of results that certain researchers are aiming for as well, the confirmation bias leads to a negative feedback loop. This was especially damaging toward the gaming industry from 2012 onward when the industry was labeled as “sexist” and “misogynistic” due to certain culture critics and the media painting the industry as a hive of villainy and unruly gremlins.

These negative stereotypes managed to make their way all the way up to the United Nations, where they attempted to get countries like Japan to ban and censor video games and anime that culture critics deemed “problematic”. As reported by Niche Gamer, Japan politely declined the U.N’s request.

(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.