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The Impact of Violent Gaming 421

Posted by Zonk
from the toad-sure-is-a-rebel dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IGN has an article up looking at the impact of violent videogames. It discusses some of the rationale on the gaming industry side for having violent images in their games, and the reactions from politics and lawmakers to these games." From the article: "Despite the large body of evidence that supports a link between playing violent videogames and aggression, lawmakers still have a difficult time convincing the courts that they should be removed from children's hands. One of the reasons for this is that most of the work done is correlational studies which look for a link between two factors. That is, if we see an increase in violent videogame play, is there also an increase in violent behavior?"
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The Impact of Violent Gaming

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  • Correlation does not imply causation
    • Thank you-
      Are violent people more likely to play violent games, or are the violent games making people violent....
      or neither....
      • The former, though not in such grandiose terms.

        A: Majority of video gamers are male B: Majority of video gamers are teenagers or in their 20s C: Teenage boys are naturally agressive because of puberty D: 20-year old men are naturally agressive because men are designed that way. If A, B, C, and D are each True, then A*B*C*D, therefore T.
        • A) Correct, but not by much
          B) Arguably incorrect. (2/3 are over 18. Average age is 29. There are more women gamers over 18 than males under 18)
      • "What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music? "

        More wisdom in that than John Cusack may be aware of.

        Same princeple in videogames and music. Kids assim

        • Did you ever watch Westerns when you were a kid? Or let's go back more - how's about Bugs Bunny, or Road Runner, or Tom and Jerry? And didn't you ever play any of that with your friends?

          Kids enjoy *playing* - and much of their play is imitation. It's why kids love dressing-up. We've all seen plenty of kids doing the kung fu/Power Rangers/whatever thing. None of them are likely to do any damage, for the simple reason they're just jumping in the air, sticking a leg out and shouting "heeeeyah!" And all o
          • Re:Logical fallacy (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Irish_Samurai (224931)
            Actually, I can't remember where I read this - someone link if they know what I'm talking about.

            There was an interview with a Marine Drill Sgt. who was commenting on how video games have affected his recruits. He said that one of the hardest things to teach was target to target movement. The act of killing a human is a traumatic experience and the most common reaction is to freeze on the spot. This is not a desireable trait to have on a battlefeild.

            He then went on to say that the kids he has come into train
    • Re:Logical fallacy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stone Pony (665064) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:48AM (#14834944)
      Nor does it imply the absence of causation, which is the unspoken subtext behind the "correlation != causation" posts which invariably spring up whenever this subject surfaces. What correlation undoubtedly does do, unless you have a total lack of curiosity about the nature of the world, is to suggest interesting avenues of research. That's why the subject comes up repeatedly, and why it will continue to do so.

      Obviously, though, taking all that into account would have taken far too long to allow much chance of getting first post.

      • The reason why people scream "correlation does not imply causation!" over and over is because people seem to fail to understand what it means. No, they are not saying that it disproves causation. What they ARE saying is that you can't cite a correlation and then act on it like it is the result of causation, which is exactly lawmakers are trying to do. There are all sorts of correlations in this world, but you would be a fool to act on them without proof of causation.

        One correlation is that the more melan
      • Correlation does not imply causation in most circumstances. Perhaps playing video games with violence will, in fact, set off some of the more unstable individuals to do something truely terrible... but then that might only occur if they play the game at the wrong/right time as opposed to watching a violent movie, playing cops'n'robbers' or any other number of things that might upset somebody in an unstable mental state.
    • Unfortunately (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alien54 (180860)
      Well, causation is not the proper word.

      Is the experience of many violent games a contributing factor to violence in later years? Does it predispose a person to violence? Does it make a person more tolerant of violence? More apathetic regarding violence? more accepting of violence?

      Does it contribute to the idea that violent solutions are more acceptable and viable than other solutions. Does it promote a violent sense of politics?

      Does it contribute to an ability to confront and handle violence, and the art

    • Re:Logical fallacy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rary (566291)
      Correlation most definitely does imply causation. It just doesn't prove causation. Correlation gives you a place to start looking for proof of causation.
  • Perhaps violent people spend their time playing violent video games, rather than wandering the streets and beating people up. Using another correlation fallacy, it would explain the all-time lows in violent crimes.
  • Despite the large body of evidence that supports a link between playing violent videogames and aggression

    Where? Where is that evidence? I've seen no such thing.

    That is, if we see an increase in violent videogame play, is there also an increase in violent behavior?

    Oh for fuck's sake.... people, IGN is trolling. My dog knows the difference between play-fighting and real fighting. Let's give our kids a little credit, shall we?

    "Somebody think of the children..." Seldom is it mentioned that the childr

  • by saskboy (600063) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:35AM (#14834823) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for taking violence out of video games. There's no reason games can't be modified to have non-violent outcomes. But then Jack Thompson would whine that realistic consequences aren't being depicted which will train cold blooded killers.

    Think of Super Mario jumped on mushrooms and they turned into happy angels instead of dead pancakes? Or in Unreal Tournament you fire paintballs, or tickle people at close range? Or in Mortal Kombat you have a tickle fight, and instead of ripping out a heart, you read the woozy opponent a bedside story. I think it would sell just as well. A game doesn't have to be violent, it can be funny and still be as fun.
    • Think of Super Mario jumped on mushrooms and they turned into happy angels instead of dead pancakes?
      Hey, that's a rip off on Sonic the Hedgehog!

      I remember when I first showed my cousin the original Sonic the Hedgehog and the way that the robots turned into happy little animals when you jumped on them. (Freed from the evil Dr. Robotnik's roboticizing process). He was quite sickened by it, said something about "drowning in saccharine."

    • Or in Mortal Kombat you have a tickle fight, and instead of ripping out a heart, you read the woozy opponent a bedside story.

      Fighter 1: I unleash my Insidious Feather attack!

      Fighter 2: I counter with the Cat-In-The-Hat!

    • Or in Mortal Kombat you have a tickle fight, and instead of ripping out a heart, you read the woozy opponent a bedside story.

      Thats exactly the idea behind the "Friendship" finishing moves in Mortal Kombat 2. What better tongue-in-cheek nod to the pressure groups than finishing a brutal fight with a magic trick or a birthday cake?
    • I don't know about you, but personally? I get tired of the saccharin, lovey-dovey junk very quickly.

      In some cases you're right: GTA would've been just as fun without the murdering and gangsta themes.

      But sometimes, after I come home from a stressful day at work, I WANT TO BLOW THINGS UP IN A VIDEOGAME, whether it's spaceships or robots or castles or cars or people. If that's wrong (it isn't) then lock me up right now because stress, and therefore my stress-relief methods, are not going away.

      If the game with
  • >> Despite the large body of evidence that supports a link between playing violent videogames and aggression...

    Care to provide some references? I understood that most studies found exactly the opposite.
    • For what it's worth, here's a meta-analysis saying exactly that:
      Psychological Science [blackwell-synergy.com]

      The abstract: "Research on exposure to television and movie violence suggests that playing violent video games will increase aggressive behavior. A metaanalytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults. Experimental and nonexperimental studies with males and females in laboratory and field settings support this conclusion. Anal

    • >I understood that most studies found exactly the opposite.

      Care to provide some references?
      • Care to provide some references?

        Me, myself, and I.

        I played Doom, listened to NIN and vulgar heavy metal music, violent movies, porn, and violent hentai as a young child. (for your reference this was 1993). I was a Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat junkie when I was younger than that... Heck... I even played Time Killers. I read violent and dirty comics.

        I was a bad kid.

        I also read books like Clockwork orange and James Clavell's "dirty" books (well his is more educational about eastern cultures but it opene
  • Yes and no... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sparky2112 (944717) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:37AM (#14834847)
    I know a child psychologist working in this field. His research is pointing to something interesting, yet not earthshattering: children who play violent games outside the pervue of their parents *do* show a propensity for violent behavior. The flipside is that kids playing violent games *with* their parent's cursory involvement *do not*. This guy was ready to throw the book at games altogether, so the studies he's running came as quite the surprise, naturally.
    • I know a child psychologist working in this field. His research is pointing to something interesting, yet not earthshattering: children who play violent games outside the pervue of their parents *do* show a propensity for violent behavior. The flipside is that kids playing violent games *with* their parent's cursory involvement *do not*. This guy was ready to throw the book at games altogether, so the studies he's running came as quite the surprise, naturally.

      So is that what this kid's [ebaumsworld.com] problem is? He's not
    • So, if you actually involve yourself in your kids' lives and activities, they might turn out okay, but if you let a computer babysit them, they'll be little gits? Who'd have thought it?
    • It would've never occurred to me that people that take an active role in their childrens life lead to better adjusted children!

      Also, can anyone tell me why eating high calorie food day in and day out for my entire life without excercise is making me gain weight?
  • Playing Madden 06 for 72 hours straight will NOT make me into a pro football player.
  • Not this again? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim C (15259) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:40AM (#14834870)
    I thought we'd done this to death in the 80s and 90s, and before that for TV, rock and roll, erotic literature, porn, sugary foods, soft drugs, etc etc, ad nauseum.

    Yes, I dare say that some people, if exposed to violent games (or films, or books, etc) will go off and do stupid, stupid things. Chances are, though, that these people would have done stupid things even without the exposure. Plenty of people who have never played a game exhibit agressive behaviour.

    What I don't understand is why each generation seems to be so afraid of what the younger generation is into. All we're seeing is the same arguments that were made about rock and roll in the fifties, or violent films in the late 70s and early 80s.

    I'm not exactly old, but I'm not really young any more either (I'm 31), but I hope to God I'm not so fucking stupid and scared when I do become "old". (Although given I have a house, mortgage, car, daughter, etc, I think by most reasonable definitions I already am)
    • I'm 23 and I'm already starting to wonder (and am slightly scared of) what might cause me to go 'oh ban this stuff before it distorts their fragile little minds' when I'm a good bit older, say 45.

      It'll have to be some fucked up trend like I dunno, direct neural manipulation or something because as far as I can see at the moment, the media does very little to screw kids up that weren't fucked up before.

      I blame the parents :o)
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:42AM (#14834884) Homepage Journal
    It's not violent games that lead me to violence.

    It's being assaulted with the same hyped-up news "story" about video game violence on every slow news day for 20 years that makes me want to hit somebody.
  • According the the Bureau of Justice Statistics [usdoj.gov], with the exception of drug-related incidents, crime rates have been on a steady decline for the last decade or more.

    Games (and other forms of entertainment) depicting violence have been on the rise. So how can anyone claim there is some correllation?
    • oh poppycock what rubbish. Clearly the AFA knows best right?

      I mean from a bunch of people living in shell for fear of offending "god" ... they clearly know what's best for the rest of the world.

      And for the record "Seventh Heaven" sucks bad!

      Tom
  • What most people seem to forget is that it's not the link between _causing_ violence, but perhaps more important, becoming _desensitized_ to violence.

    I'm less concerned about kids going out and attacking someone after playing these games, than looking on unfeelingly while someone else does. That affects their personal social interactions, and over time, can impact society as a whole.

  • I already commented briefly on this earlier but I cannot help noting this guy's remarkable use of aggressive framing:

    Richard Gallagher: Playing videogames with aggressive content does have an effect on children, teens, and adults. In children and teens, several results are associated with exposure to aggressive videogames. First, youth experience an increase in arousal that suggests an increase in tension that may contribute to aggressive behavior. Second, youth engage in more aggressive thinking about ot

  • I find it very interesting how much value Slashdotter's place on science and established scientific thinking when it comes to ID and Evolution debates, but when it applies to video gaming you're so willing to suspend it. Classical Conditioning is basic psychology, folks. Pavlov demonstrated this. Frankly, this tells me one simple truth and that is it's all nice to talk about "open-mindedness" until someone attacks something we hold dear. Then we're ready to suspend our intellect and just enjoy ourselves and
    • Accordingly we should ban the WWF, American Football, 3/4's of the TV shows, a lot of the movies from Hollywood, every single toy pistol, sword etc..

      To give you a clue, it just does not work. Kids will make toy weapons even if you do not buy them. Playing cops and robbers, cowboys and indians (of course that is not PC anymore) etc.. have kids trying to kill each other with their imagination. Now they are doing so on the net. Only thing different, is they do not need as much imagination.
      • Again, I'm not completely disagreeing with you here. All I am saying is, "To think that someone could immerse themselves in violence and come away unaffected is idiocy." I didn't say ban anything.
    • I find it very interesting how much value Slashdotter's place on science and established scientific thinking when it comes to ID and Evolution debates, but when it applies to video gaming you're so willing to suspend it. Classical Conditioning is basic psychology, folks. Pavlov demonstrated this.

      In the separate cases of violent games and real life violence, I ask only where is Pavlov's bell? You suspend established scientific thinking yourself when you beg the question by assuming the conditioning of pla

    • The reason I'm skeptical about "scientific evidence" that violent games makes kids and adults violent, is it runs completely counter to my personal experience.

      I grew up playing video games, starting with the 2600 and a TRS-80 and going through Doom, Wolfenstein, and all the other favored punching bags of the "games cause violence!" people. I enjoy GTA, I bought all three PS2 GTA games and play them regularly. I also enjoy the Splinter Cell series, sneaking around and murdering people. I love Burnout, drivin
  • The political posturing inherent in looking to control violent content in video games is really not much different than the violent posturing endorsed in video games and in most pop culture. Our culture is still male dominated and males of nearly all species posture. The violent posturing of males is a gambit to win stature in the troop and to win females without resorting to mortal combat.

    If anything, pop culture violence is a necessary outlet for males to vent their genetic behaviour without resorting to

  • Like the developers of the new 24 game that gave the cars chasing you three times the speed and mass your car has. And who somehow decided that when you're crawling around in ducts trying to be quiet about it, that sometimes left means right and vice versa on your movement stick.

    Those little glitches last night made me want to pimpslap a developer, so I guess maybe the critics are right and I should just give in and go get a Mac 10 or something.
  • The military uses video games to train soldiers, flight simulators have been around for a very long time to train pilots. Obviously these types of technology have an impact on a person's behavior and the video games do too. What are we training are children to do, blow people away?

    That said, there is a much bigger problem at work here and that is the glorification of violence: on television, in movies, in comics and by our political leadership.

    As an example, I read comic books when I was a child, wh
    • After not reading them for about 20 years, I recently thumbed through a few at our local bookstore. I was appalled by what I saw.
      You probably picked up some reprints of 1950's comics by mistake...
    • I dont really think that the increase in violence in our society has anything to do with us glorifying it. I think it has everything to do with the information age, and by that I include television and other forms of media that even today are increasing their immersion into our society. The wealth of information that is at our finger tips from the internet to the news has caused a desire for realism that just started emerging over the past few decades.

      It is our constant need for realism in our media and m
    • The military uses video games to train soldiers, flight simulators have been around for a very long time to train pilots. Obviously these types of technology have an impact on a person's behavior and the video games do too.

      Nice job. You have completely tossed aside the notion of intent. You apparently believe the harebrained notion that the military uses brainwashing to turn "normal" people into mindless killing machines. Video games and flight simulators aren't used by the military to turn people into ki

      • The people who join the military have already made the conscious, intentional decision to become killers.

        Really? What about those that they joined so they could get an education that they otherwise couldn't afford?

        Simulations and exercises are used merely to teach and reinforce technique

        Exactly my point. Most video games contain "techniques" that we should NOT want to teach and reinforce.

        No one becomes a trained killer against their will.

        So why not let people leave the military whenev
  • From the article:

    IGN: How much does exposure to violent television affect a developing child? How does this compare with violent videogames?

    Richard Gallagher: Viewing television violence has a stronger effect on youth than videogames. The impact of television violence is characterized as moderate to large in the literature. It is nearly twice as large as the effect of videogames, although the effect of videogames is increasing with the increased violent content of those games.

  • Whenever I hear someone quoting from a psychologist, I reach for my gun. Ok, not really, it'd be tough since I don't own a gun. (I know I should, but I'm broke, and it doesn't help that I just bought some Crime SuspenseStories annuals on eBay...)

    But really, what was the high point for the American Child Psychology establishment? It was the early 1950's Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Deliquency hearings [wikipedia.org], that managed to completely ruin (in a financial sense) and censor American comics. American comics

  • Despite the large body of evidence that supports a link between playing violent videogames and aggression

    The problem we have here is the basic premise that the baseline, the "normal" person they define for the control group, is the ridiculous fantasy of a peaceful human being. Humans are social in nature and tend towards cooperation, but we are at heart competitive and cooperate out of a desire for personal gain. This is by no means a bad thing. Indeed, modern society has gotten to where it is because, du

    • I agree with you.

      I remember reading somewhere once that the other countries consider the US to be the "denial" nation. We deny death and refuse to acknowledge it exists. We deny sex and the flashing of a breast on television is cause for uproar and international scandal. We deny and decry violence - even those we mostly partake in forms of mitigated violence - sports, academic competition, hell... even American Idol isn't about seeing one person win but hundreds fail and lose miserably.

      It is indeed in our v
  • Single source story, with some quotes from other studies. Terrible.

    What's the other side? Is there another side? What do other psychologists say? What does anyone from any of the states that passed the laws say? What do kids say? What do adults who play games say? Is there anyone who disagrees with you? Is there anyone who disagrees with them.

    Also, Jesus, could you ask more leading questions? You asked the question about video games relieving stress twice and you never should have asked it once. You never a
  • Government cannot make people be moral, tolerant, peaceful or anything else. You cannot force someone to be what they don't want to be, you can only put reasonable consequences for destructive behavior in place. All of this is a distraction from the fact that parents are often refusing to be parents by destroying games, music, movies, books, etc. that they genuinely feel are harmful to their kids. It's their home, but for some reason they can bring themselves to toss GTA in the trash or snap that rap CD in
  • [+] violence, games, dupe (tagging beta)

    Is Slashdot predicting the future now or is dupe going to be a tag for every post?
  • But a 12 Year old can still join Golden Gloves Boxing.

    A 16 Year old can join the Armed Forces.

    Kids can play Paintball or Good old fashioned War games.....

    And lastly they can play violent video games.....

    I did all of the above ...Im not violent, never had an assult charge and have only been in 2 fights as an adult, both while being attacked by some crackhead mugger.

    But dont forget its ONLY the Video Games, not shit poor inner city schools or anything with guns and teachers who dont do anythign a
  • There are more general things that have been linked to violence. I've heard that US soldiers in WWII sometimes had a hard time looking at the enemy and pulling the trigger, but there was much less of this inhibition in Vietnam. There was also the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and this was before there were any video games at all. One risk factor is witnessing violence; for example, a boy who sees his father hitting his mother is more likely to hit his wife when he grows up. Could violent video ga
  • There was a very good Calvin strip about this one. Calvin is sitting in front of the TV for four panels and says:

    1st panel:
    "Graphic violence in the media."

    2nd panel:
    "Does it glamorize violence? Sure.
    Does it desensitize us to violence? Of course.
    Does it help up us tolerate violence? You bet.
    Does it stunt our empathy for our fellow human beings? Heck yes."

    3rd panel:
    "Does it CAUSE violence? ... Well, that's hard to prove."

    4th panel:
    (smiling) "The trick is to ask the right question."

    Personally I believe that ad
  • Video games can come later. First we must tackle the same problems in the real world.

    For example, there is a game played in the real world called "American Football". This game involves teams of highly-trained thugs engaging in brutal pitched battles for the amusement of crowds. So violent is this game that players wear extensive body armour, and injuries are still common. But it's not just about violence: apparently this game also celebrates the sexual objectification of women, through a convention kno
  • Before someone says, "Ted Nugent, is that you?" please just hear me out for a second.

    First, I don't think that any kid is confused about whether the portrayal of a giant-bodied, over-muscled avatar with an oddly small head, swinging a sparkly, glowing, acid-dripping battle axe the size of a Vespa scooter at an imaginary hominid foe with a boar's head or a stormtrooper's outfit is real or not. No more than kids 50 years ago were confused about whether the Lone Ranger perhaps lived down the street, or whet
  • ... but shouldn't the fact that a statisticall significant correllation exists at all be cause for concern?

    I mean, it'd be ideal if we can actually find a direct cause, but let's take things one step at a time.

  • ...the record reduction in violent crime we've seen beginning in the 1990s was probably due to the reduction in violent videogames.

    Oh, wait...
  • The basic problem is they start off thinking violence is evil.

    It isn't evil, it is a natural part of the world that God created. Predators violently attack and eat other creatures. All the really succesfull species (humans and several insect species) go to war. Just like power by itself isn't evil, it is what you use it for that determines if violence is evil or not.

    That is why they keep failing to pass laws. They try to show that the games make you think violent thoughts, or make you a tiny bit viole

  • Despite the large body of evidence that supports a link between playing violent videogames and aggression, lawmakers still have a difficult time convincing the courts that they should be removed from children's hands.

    Lawmakers pass laws; they do not enforce the laws in court. Highschool civics - Congress makes the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws, and the courts interpret the laws. Now that that's out of the way, what is really happening is that every time some states attorney tries to enforce

  • Stupid parents will be stupid parents. If the game is illegal for children, stupid parent's kids will play it anyway. If it is illegal for anyone, banned, and all the violent game coders are sentenced to death, stupid parent kids will be playing with their dad's 9mm automatic left in plain view and smoking cigarettes (or something better).

    When was it that kids' decisions about what to play, where to go (real and virtual world), what to eat, etc. overrulled their parent's decisions??

    Why is that supervising w
  • are human beings empty vessels of purity that are corrupted by their environment? or are human beings violent pits of rage and sexual perversion that are tamed by their society? i side with the latter. as proof i present to you your average 3 year old toddler

    case closed

    therefore, what function does violence/ sex in media serve? i assert to you that these things serve as catharsis. that is, everyone accumulates mental garbage: antisocial aggressive feelings and antisocial sexual feelings, and needs to "take
  • The thought of voilence video games having an impact on someone seemed quite evident with the story slashdot did a little while ago in wish a soldier said something similar to "It's just like halo" when talking about being in the military....
  • The effect of violent games *gasp* varies depending on the individual.

    If you have a person prone to violence who lacks the ability to consider consequences (a lot of teenage boys fall in this category), it stands to reason that you can see an increase in violent behavior when they are regularly exposed to violent games, movies, music, literature, et cetera. One just needs to be impressionable and have a tendency toward the behavior being presented.

    The vast majority of adults and a lot of kids are perfectly
  • First a disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of "violent" games. I love first-person shooters like Call of Duty 2, my current time waster.

    There is a reason why we use simulations - because they allow us to simulate things that happen in real life so as to experience or predict what would happen in real life without the risks or costs.

    If exposure to violence has an effect on us psychologically, then it is logical to expect that the more realistic a violent simulation the more true-to-life the psychological effect sh
  • Do we have more violent computer games than 20 years ago? Yes.
    Do we have a higher crime rate than 20 years ago? Yes.
    Does this mean there has to be a correlation between them? No.

    It COULD be. But the causal dependency is missing.

    By simply labeling one factor as the culprit, you ignore all the others that sociologists and related scientists field as possible reasons for the increasing violence.

    General dissatisfaction and frustration, because of unemployment, low wages and the ever growing gap between rich and
  • Personally, I don't think games induce violence as much as they inspire violence. Which is to say that, although the type of violent acts may very easily be copied from populair entertainment, I highly doubt if the amount of violence can be traced back to the amount of violent entertainment which is consumed.

    When I decide to go on a murderous rampage to kill random people after having played a game of Carmageddon, it is obvious that my violence is inspired by the violence which is so abundant in that game. What is not obvious is that I wouldn't have found another way to express my violent needs for lack of creative inspiration. People have been torturing, maiming and killing each other for a little while longer than high-tech-taintment has existed.

    I find increasing overpopulation to be a much more likely source of violence than increasingly violent entertainment. But, after all, a correlation does not necessarily indicate a causal relation. Such relations are difficult to prove without a rigidly set up experiment.

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