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Am Psychol. 2013 Feb-Mar;68(2):57-74. doi: 10.1037/a0030597.

Violent video games and the Supreme Court: lessons for the scientific community in the wake of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

Author information

1
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX 78041, USA. cjferguson1111@aol.com

Abstract

In June 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that video games enjoy full free speech protections and that the regulation of violent game sales to minors is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also referred to psychological research on violent video games as "unpersuasive" and noted that such research contains many methodological flaws. Recent reviews in many scholarly journals have come to similar conclusions, although much debate continues. Given past statements by the American Psychological Association linking video game and media violence with aggression, the Supreme Court ruling, particularly its critique of the science, is likely to be shocking and disappointing to some psychologists. One possible outcome is that the psychological community may increase the conclusiveness of their statements linking violent games to harm as a form of defensive reaction. However, in this article the author argues that the psychological community would be better served by reflecting on this research and considering whether the scientific process failed by permitting and even encouraging statements about video game violence that exceeded the data or ignored conflicting data. Although it is likely that debates on this issue will continue, a move toward caution and conservatism as well as increased dialogue between scholars on opposing sides of this debate will be necessary to restore scientific credibility. The current article reviews the involvement of the psychological science community in the Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association case and suggests that it might learn from some of the errors in this case for the future.

PMID:
23421606
DOI:
10.1037/a0030597
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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