Every Wednesday afternoon, Michael Kraus gathers with a bunch of faculty and graduate students at the University of Illinois to discuss a journal article about social psychology, and to eat a snack. This blog post reflects the discussion we had during this week’s seminar affectionately called Social Wednesdays and Grub (SWAG). This week, SWAG was led by Jesse Preston, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois. Her summary of the SWAG discussion follows below:
Can playing violent video games cause violent behavior? After the massacre at Columbine, it was revealed that the shooters spent much of their free time playing Doom, and James Holmes, who shot 71 people in a theatre in Aurora Colorado, was also an avid gamer. High profile cases like these seem to confirm the belief many people already hold – that the simulated violence enacted in these games is projected into the real world, with real life and death consequences. Many studies in social psychology (see work by Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman) also support the conclusion that violent video games beget violent behavior. But in a 2011 case (Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association), the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was not convinced. This week in SWAG, we read an article by Christopher J. Ferguson in American Psychologist, describing the SCOTUS decision and the role of social psychology research in making the case against video games.
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