Thursday, 5 July 2012

Causal or spurious: Using propensity score matching to detangle the relationship between violent video games and violent behavior

Whitney D. Gunter (Western Michigan University, USA) and Kevin Daly (University of Delaware, USA) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 4 (July 2012)


Throughout the past decade, numerous states have passed legislation to prohibit the sale of violent video games to children, usually in conjunction with an argument that exposure to violent media increases violent behavior.

However, the link between video games and violence is not yet fully understood. This study uses propensity score matching as a method to more adequately address the underlying issue of causality.

Using a sample of 6567 8th grade students, these analyses test whether there is a causal link between playing violent video games and violence, non-violent deviance and substance use.

Results indicate a substantial decrease in the relationship between video games and these outcomes when a matched sample is used. This suggests that the strength of evidence supporting a relationship has likely been overestimated using other methodologies.


► Additional controls substantially reduces the effect video games have on behavior.
► For males, a matched sample shows no significant negative effects from video games.
► For females, a matched sample shows fewer and weaker effects from video games.
► Correlational or more basic multivariate analyses may overstate these relationships.

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