Research on the Effects of Media

© 2008-2011 Douglas A. Gentile; All Rights Reserved

Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D.
SuperNanny Study 1: Desensitization

In 2009, “Supernanny” Jo Frost invited me to help conduct studies to demonstrate some of the effects of violent video games on children for her program Extreme Parental Guidance. In the first, we examine the effects of playing a violent or non-violent game on physiological desensitization to real world violence.

Note that these are demonstrations for a television program, and are not scientific research.  Nonetheless, they are based on other scientific studies.  What surprised me is that even though we didn’t have the carefully controlled environment, we found basically the same results as is found in the scientific research.

For studies on this topic, see:

Bartholow, B. D., Bushman, B. J., & Sestir, M. A. (2006). Chronic violent video game exposure and desensitization: Behavioral and event-related brain potential data. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 532-539.

Carnagey, N. L., & Anderson, C.A., Bushman, B. J. (2007). The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 489-496.
Demonstration videos on media effects
SuperNanny Study 2: Prosocial Behavior

In the second experiment, we had children from the violent and non-violent groups come into a room individually and test them for their prosocial (helping) behavior.  The children were unaware of what we were testing, and I was unaware of what child was being chosen to see me.   

Again, this is a demonstration based on scientific research showing a reduction in prosocial behavior after exposure to media violence.

For a meta-analysis on this topic, see:

Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B.J., Sakamoto, A., Rothstein, H.R., & Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries. Psychological Bulletin,136, 151-173.

For a study using the pencil-dropping task, see:

Macrae, C. N. & Johnston, L. (1998).  Help, I need somebody: Automatic action and inaction.  Social Cognition, 16, 400-417.

To see how prosocial games demonstrate the opposite effect:

Gentile, D. A., Anderson, C. A., Yukawa, N., Saleem, M., Lim, K. M., Shibuya, A., Liau, A. K., Khoo, A., Bushman, B. J., Huesmann, L. R., & Sakamoto, A. (2009). The effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behaviors: International evidence from correlational, longitudinal, and experimental studies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 752-763.

People sometimes ask me what I think about Jo Frost’s approach to child-rearing.  I haven’t seen most of her shows, but in general, I have tended to agree with the vast majority of what I have seen.  The research shows that warm but strict parenting tends to lead to the best outcomes for children.
Video Copyright 2010 Jo Frost and Outline Productions
Video Copyright 2010 Jo Frost and Outline Productions
More videos coming!