Criticle Article Review: Violent Video Games Essay

The aim of this paper is to provide a critical review of the article The Effect of Video Game Violence on Physiological Desensitization to Real-life Violence by Nicholas L - Criticle Article Review: Violent Video Games Essay introduction. Carnagey, Craig A. Anderson, and Brad J. Bushman (2007). In this article Carnagey, Ander and Bushman experimentally examine the effects that violent video games have on those playing them, specifically in the area of physiological desensitization. It is the goal of this review to provide readers with an overall summary and critique of the article. This review will describe, discuss, and evaluate the key points of Carnagey, Anderson, and Bushman’s article and assess the methodology, results, and conclusions of the article. Keywords: physiological desensitization, research, violent, video games

In the introduction Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) address the hot debate that’s developed over the years concerning the impact of video games, particularly violent video games within our society. The article assesses some different reasons that this debate has become so hearted, for instance over 85 percent of video games contain some level of violence currently. Sadly many of these games, even the violent ones, are actually marketed toward children. The article also attributes much of the debate’s escalation to the vast amount of research available that demonstrates a rise in aggression and other negative affects in children exposed to violent media. After addressing the abudance of research concerning negative affects the article points out the shortcomings of that research concerning the impact violent video games have on desensitization.

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This insight leads into the body of the article and further information on the topic of desensitization. In the next section, Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) discuss the overtly broad definition of desensitization to violence as used within our society and provides what they feel is a more clear definition for desensitization of violence. “A reduction in emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence” (Carnagey, Ander and Bushman, p.2) is the definition that they feel best aligns with the abundant research on this topic. In this section of the article a more in depth discussion on previous some specific research done in the past concerning the desensitization to violence that occurs when a person is subjected to violent media. While the authors share their opinion that the research discussed was important they also point at that these studies merely studied the fact that watching violent media desensitized the participants to other violent media. The section titled GAM, desensitization, and sequela gives a brief overview of the General Aggression Model or GAM. In the article and experiment the General Aggression Model is used to provide a framework for understanding the process of desensitization through a social cognitive perspective. Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) use the GAM to determine that following desensitization it is inevitable that decisions and behavior will be affected, thus pointing toward a desensitization not only to other violent media but real life violent situations.

Following the clarification on the General Aggression Model the article begins to provide an overview and the specific components of Carnagey, Ander and Bushman’s (2007) study. The study involved 257 college age students who were all tested individually. They were informed the study was on certain types of media. Participants were subjected to a pre exam of sorts to figure out their baseline statistics for HR and GSR as well as a 9 question questionnaire on their likelihood toward physical aggression. Subjects were then exposed to 20 minutes of violent video game time followed by a 10 minute video of real life violence. The researchers did the same process with 20 minutes of non violent video game time as well. HR and GSR were monitored in between the games and the video and also regularly during the video. The authors then share their analysis on the changes of heart rate and GSR at the many different points throughout their study.

In the discussion portion of the article the authors discuss the lowered reaction to the violent images in the video following the 20 minutes of violent video game stimulation. They also discuss the fact that results were quite dramatic across the different individuals and attitudes toward violence. They also give insight into their results and the implication of the GAM concerning the prevalence of lowered arousal levels to violence acts following the violent stimuli via video games. Using the GAM they discuss implications such as people’s lowered likeliness to respond a victim in a violent situation if they are not in an aroused state in the midst of the violent act.

Lastly the article addresses the need for future research concerning the topic of desensitization to violence and the areas in which they feel it would be most beneficial. For instance a need to study the effects of more long term exposure to violent video games in regard to desensitization as most young game players do so on a regular basis. In their conclusion Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) go as far as to refer to the media as an “effective desensitization tool.” Critique

Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) seem to be well versed on the previous research done on the negative effects of violent media on those exposed to it. They seem to have a genuine concern on the shortcomings on such research and provide a fresh approach and perspective to the topic, specifically through focusing on the effects of desensitization to violence following the playing of violent video games. In their introduction they share that over 85 percent of video games contain some level of violence and even go as far as to point out that some parents have found violent content in games rated E for everyone. This statistic however leads one to wonder what exactly constitutes violent content. The idea of what violence is can be very subjective depending on one’s point of view and perspective concerning the topic. Clarification concerning the level of violence they are referring to could prove to be helpful in this case. For instance the authors chose to use video games which are all highly violent in content for their study, yet in instances like this refer to video games containing a much lower level of violence.

In the next section Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) share perspectives on the definition of desensitization of violence, first by exploring the many different definitions within society concerning this topic and then giving a more clear cut definition as it pertains to their work. Their definition is very useful and helpful to refer to throughout the article, as the study is examined more closely. Following their definition and description on the concept of desensitization of violence Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) discuss the General Aggression Model or GAM and how it pertains to their study and findings. The GAM is extended in this article to include desensitization and then used throughout the article to provide a framework that supports a hypothesis that a person’s desensitization, which has occurred as a result of violent video games, is likely to extend into future situations and provide a desensitization of violence in those situations as well. One drawback to this within the article is that the impact of long term effects is not really covered or researched physically within this study, it is just assumed based on the GAM. While the GAM does provide relevant reasoning to support the possibility of a future desensitization and the results show immediate desensitization there is still not concrete research proof of the long term impact. Looking at the overview of the study and it’s components it seems to have been carried out with great care. The process by which they monitored the participants as well as the areas in which they were monitored such as HR and GSR seemed relevant and applicable to the aim of the study. The only critique of the actual process one can find is that participants though appropriate in number and divided in gender, were lacking in diversity due to a similarities in age and life situations; all were college students promised extra credit to participate. However Carnagey, Ander and Bushman (2007) do an outstanding job sharing their process and provide an ample of amount of details concerning their process and also their findings. The areas in which they felt future research would be beneficial were congruent with their views and findings throughout their article and the conclusion provided a great closing to an interesting, though arguably biased, article.

Carnagey, N. L., Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). The effect of video game violence on physiological. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 43, 489-496. Retrieved from

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