Long Term Study Finds No Real Link Between Gaming and Sexism

A recent study out of Germany has come to the conclusion that playing video games has no association with sexism. A seemingly odd comment given the recent online media storms about the alleged sexism in gaming.

The study, which was conducted by Johannes Breuer, PhD, Rachel Kowert, PhD, Ruth Festl, PhD, and Thorsten Quandt, PhD, looked to ascertain whether or not playing video games could be connected to sexism in players themselves. The study was empirically longitudinal, meaning data was gathered from a group of subjects over long periods of time, over the course of three “waves”. Initially, the researchers identified 12,587 gamers out of an initial survey of 50,012 people age 14 and above. A random sampling of 4,500 was taken for the first wave, the second wave had 2,199 gamers, while the third wave had only 902 in its sample group.

Respondents were asked about their regular gaming habits like how often they played (per day, per week, per month, etc.) and what genres of games they preferred. They were also asked about their gender, their levels of education and subsequently read statements regarding greater 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 overall conclusion drawn by the study is that much like video games and violence, 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.”

So in short, this study makes the point that despite some media narrative assuring you otherwise, evidence shows that videos games in fact may not inspire feelings of sexism in gamers after all. If you’d like to see more of the study, the full version can be found below:


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