For Science: Study suggests racial stereotyping underpins campaign to blame real-world violence on video games


Academics have found a way to make the media and politicians’ spurious blame of video games for real-world violence look even worse than it already did.

A group of researchers from Villanova, Virginia Tech, and Penn State have this month released a new paper in the American Psychological Association’s peer-reviewed Pscyhology of Popular Media Culture journal that essentially explores the racial component at play when the video game blame card is applied to a public act of violence like school shootings. They conducted two studies: one a survey of over 200,000 articles and the language they used, and one a study of readers’ perceptions. According to the paper, both “confirmed the notion that racial stereotyping leads people to accept school shootings committed by Black perpetrators without seeking external explanations, but when school shootings are committed by White perpetrators, people often blame video games for the violent act,” suggesting that “racial stereotyping might be one reason some continue to blame video games for school shootings.”

“Because there is a stereotypical association between racial minorities and violent crime, it is possible that people often look toward video games as a cause for school shootings committed by White perpetrators who do not fit this stereotype. Consistent with this notion, Study 1 (n 169) found that participants who read a mock news story about a school shooting were more likely to blame video games when the shooter was White than when the shooter was Black. Study 2 examined 204,796 news stories of 204 mass shootings committed in the United States and found that, when a shooting occurred at a school, video games were 8.35 times more likely to be discussed when the shooter was White than when the shooter was Black.”

In other words, blaming video games for real-life violence is not only bad science┬ábut apparently rooted partly in racism. This is why we can’t have nice things.

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