Sunday, March 18, 2007

Another bogus video game study

Another shameless headline grabber succeeds:

(I appear to be on a run, this is the third post inspired by a Reuter's article)

Video racing games may spur risky driving - study
People who play car racing video games may be more prone to drive recklessly and get into accidents, according to a study that adds to evidence that video games can influence the behavior of some players.
I know I'm supposed to keep posts short and quotes even shorter but you have to read the findings from the study, as reported by Reuters:
The researchers first questioned 198 men and women. Those who played the games most often were more likely to report engaging in aggressive and risky driving and getting in auto accidents. Those who played these games less often reported driving more cautiously, the researchers said.
The researchers then studied 68 men and found those who played even one racing game took more risks afterward in traffic situations on a computer simulator than those who played another type of game.
Then the researchers had 83 men play either a racing game or another type of game, and found that those who played the racing game reported more thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking than the others.
Wow, that's pretty convincing. I mean, holy crap! We gotta do something. Let's figure out how to ban drivers under the influence of racing games! Should we really panic?

Nope and here's why: Priming. From the Wikipedia entry:
Priming in psychology refers to activating parts of particular representations or associations in memory just before carrying out an action or task...

These associations are often regarded as unconscious, but can be conscious as well. For example, after studying a list of 20 words containing the word "garbage", a subject can be asked to recall the word by priming with a reminder stimulus "gar".'
Garbage indeed. Makes you wonder huh?

Caveat emptor

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