Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Are Playstation, X-Box, reducing crime?

Via Sentencing Law & Policy, two Texas researchers from Baylor and UT-Arlington teamed up with another from the Centre for European Economic Research to perform a detailed time-series study of the relationship between violent video games and violent crime. Said the report, "Our results provide some support for the psychological finding that, absent incapacitation, violent video games lead to more violent crimes. However, our results also indicate this is dominated by an incapacitation effect leading to a net reduction in violent crimes."

In other words, while violent computer games may contribute to increased aggressiveness in laboratory settings, those findings fail to take into account the main effect on crime from video games: Kids who would otherwise be out getting into trouble are spending their time playing them instead of committing street crimes. "Even if a gamer is predisposed to being more aggressive due to gaming, he can express this aggression only over a shorter time non-gaming period." This incapacitation effect "swamp[s] the marginal increase in aggression in the person." Of course, as pointed out in the abstract, this "voluntary incapacitation effect" means that "playing either violent or non-violent games decrease crimes." But one imagines that those with violent tendencies may be more drawn to violent games; the folks who would otherwise engage in street crime likely would prefer Grand Theft Auto to Super Mario, etc..

11 comments:

Norwich Retro Gaming said...

Most would say that they are increasing crime. I mean come on, if you want one of these badly enough these are the lengths people will go to!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Perhaps they would, NRG. OTOH, "most" haven't run multivariate regression analysis on time series data like these researchers did, so IMO these authors position seems a little better backed up than "most."

Prison Doc said...

Multivariate analysis? As the saying goes, there's lies, damned lies, and statistics...now we can add multivariate analysis!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Prison Doc, do you have a specific reason to think the finding is wrong, or does your comment just reflect pure, knee-jerk anti-intellectualism?

Prison Doc said...

The latter!

Christopher said...

My license is suspended due to not being able to pay 1000's in back surcharges to the DPS. I still drive to work but generally don't go out anymore unless riding with someone. With that in mind, I took to playing MMOs such as World Of Warcraft and Lord Of The Rings. By not getting out of the house on my days off very much, I am much less likely to get busted for DWLS and no insurance. In a way video games actually do distract from getting criminal charges. Just my 2 cents worth LOL

ckikerintulia said...

Just anecdotal, but I do know and some members of my family are impacted pretty severely by one young man who is incapacitated from going to work by his addiction to video games.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Grits those big words make my head hurt, but I think it all started when 2 goons from Grand Theft Auto beat up the Mario Bros. I think they are the guys who stole Mr. Magoos glasses too.

OK I dont know what a multivariate regression analyses on time series data is, much less how to do one.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Just high-end statistics talk, Homeless. Basically they tracked crime and video game sales on a weekly basis over time, taking into account as many applicable variables as possible. Regression analysis (see here) is just a way to statistically figure out which of those variables is responsible (or to what extent) for an observed outcome.

Thankfully, these days your Excel program does the regression for you. :)

A Texas PO said...

The only connection that I have seen between violent video games and crime is the theft of these consoles. Some of my most violent probationers became that way through their upbringing, neighborhoods, or gang/peer involvement. The study's conclusions about the reduction in crime does make sense: you can't hurt anybody if you're glued to your tv.

john said...

Television and any entertainment provide a certain amount of release, dumbing-down, and take away time that could otherwise be utilized visiting your Congressjack.
THESE ARE THE MODERN CIRCUSES, FELLOW ROMANS. Would you like some bread, with your 15 minutes of reality TV series fame? Has Mr. Bradbury's wall-sized, flat-panel, interactive live show arrived yet? Wouldn't you like one on every wall, or would you rather be the next scapegoat?