Study Finds That Videogames Are Much More Likely to Be Blamed for Shootings by White Perpetrators

Sep 22, 2019
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A new study conducted by a team of psychologists and published last week by the American Psychological Association suggests that people are much more likely to blame videogames when school shootings are made by White perpetrators.

According to the researchers, this may be due to the stereotypes associated with non-White minorities, chiefly the perceived linkage with crimes. Interestingly, the research shows that this disparity apparently disappears when shootings do not happen in the school environment.

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Research has consistently found that violent video games are not related to real-world acts of violence, such as homicides or school shootings, and various professional societies have explicitly noted that research does not support such claims. Even with such evidence, scholars, lawmakers, and the media frequently link video games to school shootings, especially when the perpetrator is White. One possible reason for such a linkage is that there is a stereotypical association between racial minorities and violent crime.

This may cause individuals to seek an external explanation (like violent video games) when attempting to understand why an act of violence was carried out by a White perpetrator. However, when such an act of violence is carried out by a racial minority, individuals may not feel compelled to seek an external explanation because the race of the perpetrator fits their stereotype of what a violent criminal looks like. Consistent with this notion, the experimental nature of Study 1 provided evidence that a perpetrator’s race causes individuals to blame video games for the violent act more often when the shooter is White than when the shooter is Black. In a similar manner, Study 2 found that video games were discussed 8.35 times more frequently when the perpetrator was White than when he was Black.

Media pundits and other public figures appear to be quick to suggest that video games may be to blame for horrific acts of violence when the perpetrators of these crimes do not fit their image of a person who might commit a violent crime. Given the growing body of research failing to find links between video games and real-world acts of violence, hopefully, media, politicians, and scholars will be more cautious when discussing media effects in the context of school shootings. Such a concern is particularly relevant given the findings from the current research indicating that such links appear to be embedded within a broader concern of racial stereotyping.

The team of psychologists behind this research includes Patrick Markey, who had previously highlighted how 80% do not have any interest whatsoever in videogames, despite beliefs of the contrary. He even wrote a book titled 'Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong', which you can find on Amazon.

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