Do video games really cause violence?

“A correlation between variables, however, does not automatically mean that the change in one variable is the cause of the change in the values of the other variable. Causation indicates that one event is the result of the occurrence of the other event; i.e. there is a causal relationship between the two events.”

“In Mexico, nearly a million people enrolled in a program to learn to read after watching a TV drama that promoted literacy by showing characters struggling to read and then becoming literate. And in Tanzania, a series of TV dramas led married people to discuss the need to control family size and to adopt family planning methods. But returning to the topic of aggression, one of the most important questions that grew out of Bandura’s research is whether behaviors modeled on television show the same sort of effect that he documented in the laboratory. For instance, when there’s a widely publicized boxing match, does the level of aggression in society go up? In one of the most famous boxing matches in history, Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali actually took out a little gorilla doll and punched it during a press conference, pretending that the doll was Joe Frazier (somewhat similar to a little Bobo doll). Now, you could hear people in the background laughing,but the question here is deadly serious. Could this sort of highly rewarded prizefighting and punching increase the aggression of TV viewers? Not only is the answer yes — there’s evidence that it may even lead to murder. David Philips, a sociology professor at the University of California, San Diego, published an award-winning study in which he examined all heavyweight championship prize fights between 1973 and 1978, and found that U.S. homicide rates jumped over 12% above average three days after the boxing matches took place, and over 6% above average four days later — increases that translated into nearly 200 additional murders over this five-year period and led Professor Phillips to conclude that “heavyweight prize fights stimulate fatal, aggressive behavior in some Americans.” In this research, Professor Phillips also found that the more a fight was publicized, the larger the increase in murder afterwards. And he found that when a Black boxer lost the fight, the murder rate increased for young Black men but not young White men. On the other hand, when a White boxer lost the fight, the murder rate increased for young White men, but not young Black men — a pattern suggesting that aggression was being imitated.”

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