Texas Cognitive Scientist: Evidence Blaming Video Games for Violence Is ‘Weak’

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Activision
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Activision

University of Texas’ psychology professor Dr. Art Markman rebutted the resurgent claim about video games’ relationship to violence following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

“The weekend of August 3 and 4, 2019 was a violent one in the United States,” Markman began. “Over just a few hours, two mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH, claimed over 25 lives and wounded many more.” He called out Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for scapegoating video games.

“We’ve always had guns, always had evil, but I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill,” Patrick said in response to the tragic El Paso mass shooting. Markman scrutinized that position in an article published to Psychology Today.

Primarily, Markman cited the numerous studies — and, in fact, meta-analysis that studies those studies themselves — that have failed to prove any level of causation between virtual and real-world violence. At best, “playing a lot of violent video games probably makes people a little more aggressive overall, but not much.”

Markman called on those in position of authority to look toward the immense amount of factors proven to cause violence, rather than reaching for the easiest possible answer:

Policymakers who are serious about actually addressing the issue should look for the lowest-hanging fruit and start by developing programs that address the biggest sources of violent behavior. That means that policymakers should pay attention to data that relates potential risk factors for committing a mass shooting to their actual influence on violent behavior.

“When explored through that lens, video games are not a good place to start,” he concluded, and cautioned that games simply “do not seem to be a big enough contributor to violent behavior in the world to warrant being mentioned as a cause of mass shootings.”


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