Researchers Express Concerns With APA Task Force on Violent Media

In January 2013, the American Psychological Association created a Task Force to review its 2005 Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media which found an increase in aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, and a decrease in helpful behavior as a result of playing violent video games.

A collective of 228 researchers, academics and psychologists have signed onto an open letter welcoming the APA's Task Force.

"We very much welcome the appointment by the APA of a new Task Force to revisit the issue, pursuant to new research that has questioned previously held views. We appreciate the APA’s efforts to revisit the topic and believe that, given the scientific progress in the field, there are unprecedented opportunities to develop a solid basis for a careful and nuanced communication of research findings to the general public."

However, the signatories express many concerns regarding the APA's handling of such issues in the past.

"We express the concern that the APA’s previous (2005) policy statement delineated several
strong conclusions on the basis of inconsistent or weak evidence. Research subsequent to that 2005 statement has provided even stronger evidence that some of the assertions in it cannot be supported. As an important scientific discipline that helps shape the public discourse on issues of behavior, policy statements that are rigid or ideological can serve to stifle scientific innovation and new theories and may inadvertently serve to increase publication bias, particularly given concerns about both disregard for null findings and researcher degrees of freedom (Simmons et al., 2011)."

The letter goes on to ask the APA to recognize and accept both positive and negative findings (in other words, studies that show aggression effects as well as those that do not), to be wary of bivariate effect sizes in meta-analyses, and the false positives that can be created by "ad hoc" laboratory measures of aggression.

The letter closes noting that the task force "has a tremendous opportunity to change the culture of this research field to one which is less ideological and open to new theories, data and beliefs" but warns that "policy statements based on inconsistent and weak evidence are bad policy and over the long run do more harm than good, hurting the credibility of the science of psychology."

You can read the entire letter here.

Source: Polygon

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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