A study out of Germany has concluded that playing video games has no association with sexism.
The study, conducted by Johannes Breuer, PhD, Rachel Kowert, PhD, Ruth Festl, PhD, and Thorsten Quandt, PhD, sought to ascertain whether playing video games could be connected to sexism in gamers themselves. The study was longitudinal, meaning data was gathered from a group of subjects over a long period of time – in this study data was taken in three “waves”. Initially, the researchers identified 12,587 gamers out of an initial survey of 50,012 people aged 14+. A random sample of 4,500 was taken for the first wave, the second wave had 2,199 gamers while the third had 902 as financial constraints dictated smaller groups.
Respondents were asked about their gaming habits; how often they played (every day, several times a week, several times a month, or less often) and what genres they preferred. They were also asked their gender, their level of education and subsequently read statements regarding society and gender roles to gather information on sexism in respondents. Answers were based on a five point scale, with 1 representing “strongly disagree” and 5 representing “agree completely”.
The conclusion drawn by the study is that there is no statistically significant association between video games and sexist attitudes;
More interestingly, however, there was no cross-sectional association between sexist attitudes and overall video game use for both men and women. On the longitudinal level, the only statistically significant finding was a negative association between video game use at time 1 and sexist attitudes at time 2 for males ( p = 0.027). However, the size of this effect (b = –0.08) can be considered negligible. All other longitudinal associations were both small and nonsignificant (b < 0.13).
The study goes on to say that while in this case the theory that media can cultivate negative attitudes in consumers was not supported, there “might still be merit in applying a cultivation perspective to the effects of video games on sexism, especially if the focus is more on particular sub-genres or individual games (series) and, ideally, multiple dimensions of sexism pertaining to gender roles, image, and sexual harassment” but that “this study clearly shows that overall exposure to video games or preference for specific genres are not predictive of player attitudes toward real-world issues.”
The researchers were also careful to mention that because respondents were ages 14+ this study cannot conclude if games cause sexism in younger players. Additionally because this study was conducted solely in Germany, the study cautions against generalizing it to other countries and cultures.
Does the result of the study surprise you? Does it confirm what you already believed? Would you like to see less or more academic study of gaming? Put words in the comments below!