Chirstpoher Ferguson, a psychologist at Stetson Unvierstyi n Florida, carried out two research studies into media violence. In the first, his team correlated US homicide rates between 1920 and 2005, with events of violence depicted in movies. Although there was evidence of slight connection between a rise in screened and real-life violence during the 1950s, this reversed throughout the rest of the century, with instances of screen violence inversely related to homicide rates in the 1990s.
In the second study, consumption of violent video games was examined against youth violence raes in the last 20 years. The study shows that playing video games coincided with a fall in violent crime committed by those in the 12-17 age group.
The research paper also questions the validity of past studies into links between real-life and screened violence, which have largely based on laboratory testing. The ways in which aggressive behaviours have been examined and measured in the past, with test subjects watching short clips of violent content and then carrying out specified activites, may have led to results which have little influence outside of the laboratory enviorment, the study opines.
“Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime,” said Ferguson in a pres statement. “There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health. This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value.”