Former FBI Profiler Says Video Games Don’t Cause Violence

March 5, 2013
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Mary Ellen O'TooleChalk up another win for video games: a former FBI profiler has added her voice to the chorus of researchers, psychiatrists, and other experts who have stated that video games do not cause violent behavior, though they may exacerbate underlying tendencies just as other types of media can.

In an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation this past Sunday, Mary Ellen O’Toole said: “As a former FBI profiler, we don’t see [video games] as the cause of violence. We see them as… fueling ideation that’s already there.” As Raw Story points out, a 2002 Secret Service study found that such ideation is much more likely to be fed by “violence in [a shooter’s] own writings, such as poems, essays or journal entries” than by violent video games.

O’Toole was joined on the panel by Texas A&M International University psychology professor Christopher Ferguson, whose name may already be familiar to anyone who’s been following the debate over the alleged connection between video games and violence. On Sunday, Ferguson stressed once again that his extensive research has found no definitive link between video games and violent behavior, and likened the current climate to the 1950s when comics were blamed for juvenile delinquency:

[W]hen new media come out… they tend to go through a period of what we call moral panic, in which they are blamed for all manner of societal ills….We may see some people sort of starting with a conclusion and trying to assemble data in a very selective way to try to support that conclusion.

Here is the entire 14-minute segment from Face the Nation:

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Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.