Oxford study finds no link between violent video games and teen aggression

The study looked at data surrounding British teens and notes that, unlike previous research into the potential link, the hypothesis, methods, and analysis technique were publicly registered ahead of the actual research.

“Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”

- Oxford Internet Institute Director of Research and lead researcher Andrew Przybylski details the findings of the study.

Researchers at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute have published the findings of a study into the relationship between aggressive behavior in teens and violent video games, finding that, in short, no link exists.

The study’s subject itself isn’t new ground by any means, but Oxford researchers say that their case has a few notable differences from past studies that, according to the University, make it “one of the most definitive to date.”

The paper, which can be found in its entirety on Royal Society Open Science, collected data from a representative sample of British 14- and 15-year-olds as well as from their caretakers, totaling 2,008 participants in all. Both parties answered a series of questions provided by researchers, with the teenaged participants answering a questionnaire on their personality and video game habits while caretakers answered the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Games were also classified according to PAL or ESRB ratings, rather than participant-defined content descriptions.

"Following a preregistered analysis plan, multiple regression analyses tested the hypothesis that recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behavior," reads the paper. "Results did not support this prediction, nor did they support the idea that the relationship between these factors follows a nonlinear parabolic function. There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behavior."

Researchers also note that, unlike other studies on the subject, they opted to publicly preregister their hypothesis, methods, and analysis technique before starting in on the research itself in order to prevent personal bias from playing a part in the findings. 

“Our findings suggest that researcher biases might have influenced previous studies on this topic, and have distorted our understanding of the effects of video games,” co-author Dr. Netta Weinstein told Oxford. 

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