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Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence 12/2017

21-06-2017 | Empirical Research

Are Associations Between “Sexist” Video Games and Decreased Empathy Toward Women Robust? A Reanalysis of Gabbiadini et al. 2016

Auteurs: Christopher J. Ferguson, M. Brent Donnellan

Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 12/2017

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Abstract

Gabbiadini, A., Riva, P., Andrighetto, L., Volpato, C., & Bushman, B, (PloS ONE, 2016) provided evidence for a connection between “sexist” video games and decreased empathy toward girls using an experimental paradigm. These claims are based on a moderated mediation model. They reported a three-way interaction between game condition, gender, and avatar identification when predicting masculine ideology in their original study. Masculine ideology was associated, in turn, with decreased empathy. However, there were no main experimental effects for video game condition on empathy. The current analysis considers the strength of the evidence for claims made in the original study on a sample of 153 adolescents (M age = 16.812, SD = 1.241; 44.2% male). We confirmed that there was little evidence for an overall effect of game condition on empathy toward girls or women. We tested the robustness of the original reported moderated mediation models against other, theoretically derived alternatives, and found that effects differed based on how variables were measured (using alternatives in their public data file) and the statistical model used. The experimental groups differed significantly and substantially in terms of age suggesting that there might have been issues with the procedures used to randomly assign participants to conditions. These results highlight the need for preregistration of experimental protocols in video game research and raise some concerns about how moderated mediation models are used to support causal inferences. These results call into question whether use of “sexist” video games is a causal factor in the development of reduced empathy toward girls and women among adolescents.
Voetnoten
1
Both of these games were curiously dated at the time of the study, San Andreas having been released in 2004, Vice City in 2002.
 
2
This was consistent across conditions: Neutral games r = −.321 (n = 51); Violent games r = −.299 (n = 55); Sexist games r = −.429 (n = 48).
 
3
During personal communication Dr. Gabbiadini explained that many items for the MRNI were not used because they used language better fit for adults than adolescents or contained language the schools considered explicit. Dr. Gabbiadini also suggested that they may have eliminated the other 3 items that were in the dataset for the same reason. We accepted this explanation as reasonable for using a reduced set of items in the original survey. However, we were not convinced that this logic applied to any decision to drop 3-items from the scale after the data had been collected.
 
4
An examination of crosstabs revealed that all 15-year olds (n = 22) were in the GTA condition. Few participants from ages 17–20 (n = 4) were in the GTA condition. This grouping of younger participants into the GTA condition appears to be difficult to explain through random assignment of individuals to condition. This result is presented in Table 1. It should have also been noted in the original report given the strong negative correlation between condition in age in their Table 2 (i.e., r = −.521, n = 155).
 
5
We noticed that one participant (ID# 108) was excluded from these analyses, likely because empathy data was missing for this participant. However, as the empathy data were not necessary for this particular analyses, we also conducted an analysis with #108 included. When this participant was included in the analysis the, results were not statistically significant [F (2, 152) = 2.573, p = .080] Thus, the outcome of this analysis in terms of statistical significance hinges on the presence or absence of a single participant.
 
6
The meta-analysis became the focus of lively debate between scholars who supported (Markey 2015) and were critical (e.g., Rothstein and Bushman 2015; Valkenburg 2015) of its conclusions. However, the meta-analysis was independently replicated by Furuya-Kanamori and Doi (2016) who were, in turn, critical of the critiques.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Are Associations Between “Sexist” Video Games and Decreased Empathy Toward Women Robust? A Reanalysis of Gabbiadini et al. 2016
Auteurs
Christopher J. Ferguson
M. Brent Donnellan
Publicatiedatum
21-06-2017
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Journal of Youth and Adolescence / Uitgave 12/2017
Print ISSN: 0047-2891
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-6601
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0700-x

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