Distorted research on video games and violence
“If your kids are playing these games, either these games are having a warping effect on right and wrong or they have a warped sense of right or wrong and that’s why they are attracted to these games.” This extremely strong claim was not made by a politician or a moral crusader worried about children playing violent video games like Fortnite. Instead it was said by Jay Hull, an author of a recent study from Dartmouth University. This study, and its accompanying press release, claimed to have found new evidence linking violent video games to youth aggression. However, a reading of research paper itself, instead of the press release, suggests that the Dartmouth study is actually a better argument against the belief that violent games are dangerous. It turns out that this is just another example of how social science is often oversold to a public without the statistical knowledge to evaluate problematic claims. The Overhyped Data on Video Games and Aggression
How the authors of the Dartmouth study chose to “sell” their research to the public is reflective of a larger issue for social science. Psychology has been experiencing a replication crisis, wherein it is now known that many overhyped findings are, in fact, difficult to replicate. Much of what we, as research psychologists, tell the public simply isn’t true.