Agressieve discussie over videospelen

16 October 2015


Bron van afbeelding

Worden kinderen agressief van het spelen van agressieve videospelletjes?

Ondanks veel onderzoek is er nog steeds geen duidelijk antwoord op deze vraag. Wat wel duidelijk is, is dat informatie over dit onderwerp tot verhitte, je zou bijna zeggen: agressieve discussie onder deskundigen leidt.

Zie bijvoorbeeld een meta-analyse naar dit onderwerp in het tijdschrift Perspective on Psychological Science (september 2015), die wordt gevolgd door vijf reacties en een weerwoord van de auteur. Voor liefhebbers van deze discussie geef ik hieronder de (Engelstalige) samenvattingen van alle zeven artikelen.

Het begon met de meta-analyse van Christopher Ferguson:

Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of Video Game Influences on Children’s and Adolescents’ Aggression, Mental Health, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance.

The issue of whether video games—violent or nonviolent—“harm” children and adolescents continues to be hotly contested in the scientific community, among politicians, and in the general public. To date, researchers have focused on college student samples in most studies on video games, often with poorly standardized outcome measures. To answer questions about harm to minors, these studies are arguably not very illuminating. In the current analysis, I sought to address this gap by focusing on studies of video game influences on child and adolescent samples. The effects of overall video game use and exposure to violent video games specifically were considered, although this was not an analysis of pathological game use. Overall, results from 101 studies suggest that video game influences on increased aggression (r = .06), reduced prosocial behavior (r = .04), reduced academic performance (r = −.01), depressive symptoms (r = .04), and attention deficit symptoms (r = .03) are minimal. Issues related to researchers’ degrees of freedom and citation bias also continue to be common problems for the field. Publication bias remains a problem for studies of aggression. Recommendations are given on how research may be improved and how the psychological community should address video games from a public health perspective.

P.M. Markey schrijft daarop:

Finding the Middle Ground in Violent Video Game Research. Lessons From Ferguson (2015)

Ferguson’s comprehensive meta-analysis provides convincing data that violent video games have almost no effect on children’s aggression. Although this finding is unlikely to bring unity to a divided field, Ferguson’s article (2015, this issue) provides important rules that should aid all researchers. First, we need to be more accepting of results that are inconsistent with our own theories. Second, extraneous variables are often responsible for the relations previous studies have found between violent media and aggression. Third, we should avoid using unstandardized assessments of important variables whenever possible. Finally, caution is warranted when generalizing laboratory research findings to severe acts of violent in the “real world.” It is hoped that, by accepting these basic rules, researchers and others will adopt less extreme positions concerning the effects of violent video games.

P. Boxer, C.L. Groves en M. Docherty reageren met:

Video Games Do Indeed Influence Children and Adolescents’ Aggression, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance. A Clearer Reading of Ferguson (2015)

Psychological scientists have long sought to determine the relative impact of environmental influences over development and behavior in comparison with the impact of personal, dispositional, or genetic influences. This has included significant interest in the role played by media in children’s development with a good deal of emphasis on how violent media spark and shape aggressive behavior in children and adolescents. Despite a variety of methodological weaknesses in his meta-analysis, Ferguson (2015, this issue) presents evidence to support the positive association between violent media consumption and a number of poor developmental outcomes. In this Commentary we discuss this meta-analytic work and how it fits into a broader understanding of human development.

D.A. Gentile is sceptisch:

What Is a Good Skeptic to Do? The Case for Skepticism in the Media Violence Discussion

The discussion about violent video games tends to engender extreme positions, each of which are deserving of deep skepticism. Ferguson’s (2015, this issue) claim that humans can do something repeatedly with no effect on them should be examined carefully, especially as it violates most established psychological and learning theories. In this commentary, we examine three aspects of Ferguson’s claim. First, it is a typical rhetorical trick to sow doubt, but it is valuable to examine the doubting claims. Second, it is good rhetoric to direct attention in only one direction, but it is valuable to examine that direction within its broader outlook. Third, it is good rhetoric to imply bias on the part of one position, but it is valuable to examine the potential biases on all sides. Good science definitely requires skeptics. The problem with the violent video game debate is perhaps that we have not been skeptical enough.

H.R. Rothstein en B.J. Bushman gaan in op de methodologie:

Methodological and Reporting Errors in Meta-Analytic Reviews Make Other Meta-Analysts AngryA Commentary on Ferguson (2015)

Although Ferguson’s (2015, this issue) meta-analysis addresses an important topic, we have serious concerns about how it was conducted. Because there was only one coder, we have no confidence in the reliability or validity of the coded variables. Two independent raters should have coded the studies. Ferguson synthesized partial correlations as if they were zero-order correlations, which can increase or decrease (sometimes substantially) the variance of the partial correlation. Moreover, he partialled different numbers of variables from different effects, partialled different variables from different studies, and did not report what was partialled from each study. Ferguson used an idiosyncratic “tandem procedure” for detecting publication bias. He also “corrected” his results for publication bias, even though there is no such thing as a “correction” for publication bias. Thus, we believe that Ferguson’s meta-analysis is fatally flawed and should not have been accepted for publication in Perspective on Psychological Science (or any other journal).

P.M. Valkenburg pleit voor een constructiever debat:

The Limited Informativeness of Meta-Analyses of Media Effects

In this issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Christopher Ferguson reports on a meta-analysis examining the relationship between children’s video game use and several outcome variables, including aggression and attention deficit symptoms (Ferguson, 2015, this issue). In this commentary, I compare Ferguson’s nonsignificant effects sizes with earlier meta-analyses on the same topics that yielded larger, significant effect sizes. I argue that Ferguson’s choice for partial effects sizes is unjustified on both methodological and theoretical grounds. I then plead for a more constructive debate on the effects of violent video games on children and adolescents. Until now, this debate has been dominated by two camps with diametrically opposed views on the effects of violent media on children. However, even the earliest media effects studies tell us that children can react quite differently to the same media content. Thus, if researchers truly want to understand how media affect children, rather than fight for the presence or absence of effects, they need to adopt a perspective that takes differential susceptibility to media effects more seriously.

C.J. Ferguson heeft vervolgens het laatste woord:

Pay No Attention to That Data Behind the Curtain. On Angry Birds, Happy Children, Scholarly Squabbles, Publication Bias, and Why Betas Rule Metas

This article responds to five comments on my “Angry Birds” meta-analysis of video game influences on children (Ferguson, 2015, this issue). Given ongoing debates on video game influences, comments varied from the supportive to the self-proclaimed “angry,” yet hopefully they and this response will contribute to constructive discussion as the field moves forward. In this reply, I address some misconceptions in the comments and present data that challenge the assumption that standardized regression coefficients are invariably unsuitable for meta-analysis or that bivariate correlations are invariably suitable for meta-analysis. The suitability of any data should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and data indicates that the coefficients included in the “Angry Birds” meta-analysis did not distort results. Study selection, effect size extraction, and interpretation improved upon problematic issues in other recent meta-analyses. Further evidence is also provided to support the contention that publication bias remains problematic in video game literature. Sources of acrimony among scholars are explored as are areas of agreement. Ultimately, debates will only be resolved through a commitment to newer, more rigorous methods and open science.


De deskundige psychologen zijn er nog niet over uit.

Maar als ergonoom durf ik al wel te stellen dat het dagelijks urenlang achter de computer zitten in ieder geval niet gezond is. Hoe vredelievend of agressief een spel ook is.


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