Study Shows Media Violence Not Linked to Societal Violence

A study recently published in the Journal of Communication found that no significant association exists between media violence consumption and societal violence. Researcher Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University conducted two studies, one which compared movie violence and homicide, and the second which focused on video game violence and youth violence rates. The findings point to an increase in media violence, but not a correlating increase in real-life violence.

videogamingIn the first study, violence in popular movies from 1920-2005 was evaluated before comparing the data to homicide rates in the same years. No significant correlation was found.

However, during the mid-20th century, a slight correlation did occur. This may be the reason for the prominent belief that the correlation existed.

After 1990, movie violence became negatively correlated with homicides, reversing the pattern. Prior to 1940, the same trend existed.

The second study focused on the Entertainment Software Ratings Board ratings from 1996-2011. These ratings were compared to federal data on youth violence during the same years. While violent video game consumption correlated strongly with a decrease in youth violence, this correlation was due to chance.

“This study is the first to suggest that movie violence and video game violence consumption probably are increasing over time, but that there is little evidence that this has caused a problem for society,” reports EurekAlert.

In the past, studies have focused on laboratory experiments followed by aggression, but this approach is not as entirely relevant to real-life exposure.

“Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime. There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health,” Ferguson said. “This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value.”

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