Apples, oranges, and the burden of proof - Putting media violence findings into context: A comment on Elson and Ferguson (2013)

Wayne Warburton*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    In this comment on Elson and Ferguson (2013), areas of agreement are noted in terms of the need to thoroughly and scientifically document the boundary conditions under which violent video games most impact players. However it is argued, in contrast to Elson and Ferguson, that violent media generally (and violent video games specifically) can and do increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior and desensitization to violence, and are linked to increases in aggressive attitudes and beliefs. It is also argued that research findings demonstrating these violent video game effects must be considered in terms of both the known impacts of other types of media on human thoughts and behavior, and well-documented psychological processes that have been empirically demonstrated to underlie the acquisition of all types of social behavior, not just aggression. To this end, evidence is provided that other types of media such as advertising are shown to clearly impact human psychology, and psychological mechanisms that potentially underlie media violence effects are discussed. It is further noted that there are no clearly evident reasons as to why violent video games should impact thoughts and behavior less than other media or be subject to different psychological processes. When the research evidence is considered in these contexts, it is concluded that the above-mentioned impacts of violent media exposure on human thought and behavior (including those of violent digital games) are demonstrated to two levels of proof - on the balance of probabilities and beyond reasonable doubt.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-67
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Psychologist
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Aggression
    • Media psychology
    • Violent video games


    Dive into the research topics of 'Apples, oranges, and the burden of proof - Putting media violence findings into context: A comment on Elson and Ferguson (2013)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this