ABC News Polling Guru Slams NIMF Game Addiction Data

On Monday Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family released the results of a new study which suggested that one in twelve 8-18 year-olds displayed symptoms of video game addiction.

As GamePolitics reported, the methodology behind the ISA/NIMF research was almost immediately called into question by Harvard’s Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood and Oregon psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block, an expert of the topic of video game addiction.

A report today by ABC News polling director Gary Langer (left) goes a step further, questioning Gentile’s study for its claim of being "nationally representative within 3% [margin of error]."

Writing for his The Numbers blog, Langer explains:

The problem: This study was conducted among members of an opt-in online panel – individuals who sign up to click through questionnaires on the internet in exchange for points redeemable for cash and gifts. There are multiple methodological challenges with these things… but the most basic – and I think least arguable – is that they’re based on a self-selected “convenience sample,” rather than a probability sample. And you need a probability sample to compute sampling error…

This is far from an inconsequential issue. The public discourse is well-informed by quality data; it can be misinformed or even disinformed by other data. It is challenging – but essential – for us to differentiate.

Langer also heard from the study’s author who admitted the mistake in calculating a margin of error:

Prof. Gentile got back to me… He said he was unaware the data in his study came from a convenience sample… and that, relying on his own background in market research, he’d gone ahead and calculated an error margin for it. “I missed that when I was writing this up. That is an error then on my part.”

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. Battosai says:

     It seems to me that more and more these "studies" that are conducted about video games are so rushed or poorly executed. I mean almost every video game study I have read about is called out on for some procedural error or even just for being completely biased. I am all for testing for this particular thing and if there is an issue to find regarding video games, so be it. But trying to bust my hobby so hard that you start grasping for evidence is getting a bit annoying. I mean really, "This study was conducted among members of an opt-in online panel – individuals who sign up to click through questionnaires on the internet in exchange for points redeemable for cash and gifts." I am no psychologist but this seems like one of the most unreliable sources for information one could find.

    As I said, if there is a real problem to be found in gaming that is fine by me. But it is just insulting for gaming to be considered bad on the grounds of some half-assed test that proves next to nothing.  

  2. TBoneTony says:

    Wow…I wish that there was someone who would call out Dr Phill for his mistakes, like he is a TV Psychologist and every person on that show in the audience looks like they completely believe what Dr Phill is saying even if he is BSing.


    If only we had people on Fox News asking the crew if their information was correct for every sensationalist news report.


    But sadly that does not happen on TV because the people behind the camera manipulate things if they are pre-recorded, so therefore the people behind the camera can eddit the things that may doubt their credability.


    But it is nice to see someone from the ABC news calling out the study for it’s flaws. People need to hear two sides of the story including with someone neutral who has a close examine of the data and information and seeing how they both contradict against eachother.


  3. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Yeah, I’m sure he was "unaware" except that I’m pretty sure I remember him pulling the same crap in the past.

  4. Avalongod says:

    It’s not a "legal" matter you can arrest someone for (and folks aren’t licensed to be a professor).  I’d guess this is a mistake, not a deliberate malfeasance…more boneheadedness.  Still I’m curious if anyone is going to inform the editor of the journal, Psychological Science.  It WOULD be ethical for them to make some kind of correction at the very least.  I think that’s the only real fix needed…but yes, leaving it as is, deliberately, with false information could certainly be construed as unethical.

  5. mdo7 says:



    He said he was unaware the data in his study came from a convenience sample…

    What kind of a professor that doesn’t know where the data come from.  Somebody revoked his license to be a professor.  He just violated his ethics.  Also NIMF should be arrested for false information (if that is a criminal offense).

    The problem: This study was conducted among members of an opt-in online panel – individuals who sign up to click through questionnaires on the internet in exchange for points redeemable for cash and gifts.

    Nice for this guy to point out.  Oh we should add Bribery on NIMF’s crimes along with false information.  Answer the questionnaires and get points for cash and gifts.  You know, I bet the questionaires had if you answer and get the right answers you’ll get money and you can spend it all.  Yeah, that’s bribery.


    I’m glad Langer managed to answer those question.  Now we can get true justice for gamers everywhere.



  6. Alex says:

    Political/ideological leanings aside I wouldn’t expect much from Fox anyway. Didn’t they fire two reporters from one of their local stations for refusing to include false information in a report about RBGH?

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  7. crazywes76 says:

    John Watson the founder of Behaviorism psychology went into advertisement after he left acadamics.  Alot of the the principles of psychology can be applied to marketing.

  8. Aliasalpha says:

    Hang on, am I misunderstanding this or is a psychological study being conducted by someone who does market research??

    How are these things connected? One calls for in depth examination of human responses to stimuli and the other counts how many bars of soap were sold after they changed the logo.

    What am I missing?

  9. Avalongod says:

    Well…he admitted it on some reasonably obscure blog (with no offense intended) which will be quickly forgotten.  My question is whether he’ll correct it as an addendum in the actual publication…if not generations of psychologists reading this will believe, incorrectly, that this was a "nationally representitive sample" when it is not. 

  10. Avalongod says:

    Geezus…this kind of crap is just embarassing for social scientists…what is sad is that this is probably very common, not just in video game research, but in social science research everywhere.  He got called out on it, but I wonder how many articles slip by, remain influential, without ever being corrected.  I wonder even if this one will be corrected or if it will be allowed to be published as is with the claims that it is a "nationally representative" sample.

  11. KayleL says:

    Liberal/non-american media seems to be on video games side sometimes. We will never see this on a program like Fox News.

  12. GTCv Deimos says:

    What I don’t get is why the ISA and NIMF feels the need to be so deceptive. I mean, on paper, their goals are actually pretty noble… I mean the NIMF is supposed to be a parental advisory for cripes sake…

    So why the blown studies? Why the villifications? Are they just lazy, or are they actually trying to slander an entire medium?

  13. Austin_Lewis says:

    He wasn’t ‘unaware’.  It’s likely that he was contracted to do this research by NIMF, and then told what result they wanted.  He then went and obtained it, and now he’s trying to cover his ass.

    This smacks of a lack of professionalism and makes us all look bad.

  14. Neeneko says:

    According to the guy’s website, he is planning to publish this increasingly smelly pile of expletive.  I worry about any journal that would carry this ‘study’….

  15. gamegod25 says:

    "he was unaware the data in his study came from a convenience sample"

    How could he not ****ing know? How can you conduct a study and not know where your data is coming from?

  16. DarkSaber says:

    AFTER being called out on it.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  17. hellfire7885 says:

    Wow, they’re catching hell left and right for this. Nice to see such people being called out on it for a change.

  18. DeusPayne says:

    So, he’s either a deceiptful ass, or an incompitent one. What a reliable source of information.

  19. Saladin says:

    At least it was pointed out. Gamers are getting the benefit of the doubt, which is nice really. Sometimes I see the headlines on GP and forget what that’s like. =P

Comments are closed.