Boys Will Be Boys

Kevin Lewis

April 10, 2011

Video Games and Crime

Michael Ward
Contemporary Economic Policy, April 2011, Pages 261-273

Psychological studies find that video game play is associated with markers for violent and antisocial attitudes. It is plausible that these markers indicate either whetted or sated preferences for antisocial behavior. I investigate whether a proxy for video gaming is associated with the prevalence of various crimes and find evidence that gaming is associated with significant declines in crime and death rates. These results are robust to various alternative specifications. Other youth-related leisure activities - sports and movie viewing - generate smaller or no effects. These results cast doubt on the desirability of proposed restrictions on video game marketing.


Denying Humanness to Others: A Newly Discovered Mechanism by Which Violent Video Games Increase Aggressive Behavior

Tobias Greitemeyer & Neil McLatchie
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Past research has provided abundant evidence that playing violent video games increases aggressive behavior. So far, these effects have been explained mainly as the result of priming existing knowledge structures. The research reported here examined the role of denying humanness to other people in accounting for the effect that playing a violent video game has on aggressive behavior. In two experiments, we found that playing violent video games increased dehumanization, which in turn evoked aggressive behavior. Thus, it appears that video-game-induced aggressive behavior is triggered when victimizers perceive the victim to be less human.


This is your brain on violent video games: Neural desensitization to violence predicts increased aggression following violent video game exposure

Christopher Engelhardt et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Previous research has shown that media violence exposure can cause desensitization to violence, which in theory can increase aggression. However, no study to date has demonstrated this association. In the present experiment, participants played a violent or nonviolent video game, viewed violent and nonviolent photos while their brain activity was measured, and then gave an ostensible opponent unpleasant noise blasts. Participants low in previous exposure to video game violence who played a violent (relative to a nonviolent) game showed a reduction in the P3 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP) to violent images (indicating physiological desensitization), and this brain response mediated the effect of video game content on subsequent aggressive behavior. These data provide the first experimental evidence linking violence desensitization with increased aggression, and show that a neural marker of this process can at least partially account for the causal link between violent game exposure and aggression.


Math-Gender Stereotypes in Elementary School Children

Dario Cvencek, Andrew Meltzoff & Anthony Greenwald
Child Development, forthcoming

A total of 247 American children between 6 and 10 years of age (126 girls and 121 boys) completed Implicit Association Tests and explicit self-report measures assessing the association of (a) me with male (gender identity), (b) male with math (math-gender stereotype), and (c) me with math (math self-concept). Two findings emerged. First, as early as second grade, the children demonstrated the American cultural stereotype that math is for boys on both implicit and explicit measures. Second, elementary school boys identified with math more strongly than did girls on both implicit and self-report measures. The findings suggest that the math-gender stereotype is acquired early and influences emerging math self-concepts prior to ages at which there are actual differences in math achievement.


'What does it take to be a man? What is a real man?': Ideologies of masculinity and HIV sexual risk among Black heterosexual men

Lisa Bowleg et al.
Culture, Health & Sexuality, Summer 2011, Pages 545-559

Research documents the link between traditional ideologies of masculinity and sexual risk among multi-ethnic male adolescents and White male college students, but similar research with Black heterosexual men is scarce. This exploratory study addressed this gap through six focus groups with 41 Black, low- to middle-income heterosexual men aged 19 to 51 years in Philadelphia, PA. Analyses highlighted two explicit ideologies of masculinity: that Black men should have sex with multiple women, often concurrently, and that Black men should not be gay or bisexual. Analyses also identified two implicit masculinity ideologies: the perception that Black heterosexual men cannot decline sex, even risky sex, and that women should be responsible for condom use. The study's implications for HIV prevention with Black heterosexual men are discussed.


Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior

David Card & Gordon Dahl
Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2011, Pages 103-143

We study the link between family violence and the emotional cues associated with wins and losses by professional football teams. We hypothesize that the risk of violence is affected by the "gain-loss" utility of game outcomes around a rationally expected reference point. Our empirical analysis uses police reports of violent incidents on Sundays during the professional football season. Controlling for the pregame point spread and the size of the local viewing audience, we find that upset losses (defeats when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points) lead to a 10% increase in the rate of at-home violence by men against their wives and girlfriends. In contrast, losses when the game was expected to be close have small and insignificant effects. Upset wins (victories when the home team was predicted to lose) also have little impact on violence, consistent with asymmetry in the gain-loss utility function. The rise in violence after an upset loss is concentrated in a narrow time window near the end of the game and is larger for more important games. We find no evidence for reference point updating based on the halftime score.


Mathematically Gifted Adolescents Have Deficiencies in Social Valuation and Mentalization

Kyongsik Yun et al.
PLoS ONE, April 2011, e18224

Many mathematically gifted adolescents are characterized as being indolent, underachieving and unsuccessful despite their high cognitive ability. This is often due to difficulties with social and emotional development. However, research on social and emotional interactions in gifted adolescents has been limited. The purpose of this study was to observe differences in complex social strategic behaviors between gifted and average adolescents of the same age using the repeated Ultimatum Game. Twenty-two gifted adolescents and 24 average adolescents participated in the Ultimatum Game. Two adolescents participate in the game, one as a proposer and the other as a responder. Because of its simplicity, the Ultimatum Game is an apt tool for investigating complex human emotional and cognitive decision-making in an empirical setting. We observed strategic but socially impaired offers from gifted proposers and lower acceptance rates from gifted responders, resulting in lower total earnings in the Ultimatum Game. Thus, our results indicate that mathematically gifted adolescents have deficiencies in social valuation and mentalization.


Low- and High-Testosterone Individuals Exhibit Decreased Aversion to Economic Risk

Steven Stanton et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Testosterone is positively associated with risk-taking behavior in social domains (e.g., crime, physical aggression). However, the scant research linking testosterone to economic risk preferences presents inconsistent findings. We examined the relationship between endogenous testosterone and individuals' economic preferences (i.e., risk preference, ambiguity preference, and loss aversion) in a large sample (N = 298) of men and women. We found that endogenous testosterone levels have a significant U-shaped association with individuals' risk and ambiguity preferences, but not loss aversion. Specifically, individuals with low or high levels of testosterone (more than 1.5 SD from the mean for their gender) were risk and ambiguity neutral, whereas individuals with intermediate levels of testosterone were risk and ambiguity averse. This relationship was highly similar in men and women. In contrast to received wisdom regarding testosterone and risk, the present data provide the first robust evidence for a nonlinear association between economic preferences and levels of endogenous testosterone.


Endogenous estradiol is associated with verbal memory in nondemented older men

Molly Zimmerman et al.
Brain and Cognition, forthcoming

This study examined the relationship between endogenous hormones and cognitive function in nondemented, ethnically-diverse community-dwelling older men enrolled in the Einstein Aging Study (EAS). All eligible participants (185 men, mean age = 81 years) received neuropsychological assessment (Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test (FCSRT), Logical Memory (LM), Trail Making Test B (TMTB), block design (BD)) and provided blood samples for hormonal assays (total estradiol, total testosterone, calculated free testosterone index). Linear regression analysis adjusted for age, education, body mass index, and cardiovascular comorbidities indicated that men with high levels of total estradiol demonstrated better FCSRT verbal memory performance (β = 0.17, p < 0.02) compared to men with lower levels of total estradiol. The results remained unchanged when the model was further adjusted for ethnicity. We did not detect an association between testosterone and cognitive performance. These findings indicate that high levels of total estradiol in older men are associated with better performance on a cue-based, controlled learning test of verbal memory that is a sensitive predictor of dementia.


Grand Theft Auto IV Comes to Singapore: Effects of Repeated Exposure to Violent Video Games on Aggression

Scott Kie Zin Teng et al.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, forthcoming

Given the increasingly dominant role of video games in the mainstream entertainment industry, it is no surprise that the scholarly debate about their impact has been lively and well attended. Although >100 studies have been conducted to examine the impact of violent video games on aggression, no clear consensus has been reached, particularly in terms of their long-term impact on violent behavior and aggressive cognitions. This study employs a first-ever longitudinal laboratory-based experiment to examine longer-term effects of playing a violent video game. One hundred thirty-five participants were assigned either to the treatment condition where they played a violent video game in a controlled laboratory setting for a total of 12 hours or to the control group where they did not play a game. Participants in the treatment group played Grand Theft Auto IV over a period of 3 weeks and were compared with a control group on the posttest measures of trait aggression, attitudes toward violence, and empathy. The findings do not support the assertion that playing a violent video game for a period of 3 weeks increases aggression or reduces empathy, but they suggest a small increase in proviolence attitudes. The implications of the findings are discussed.


Is time inconsistency primarily a male problem?

Jeffrey Prince & Daniel Shawhan
Applied Economics Letters, April 2011, Pages 501-504

We conduct a simple experiment, using real money, that tests whether men and woman differ in time consistency. The experiment provides strong evidence of time inconsistency among males, but no evidence of such behaviour among females. Furthermore, the difference between males and females is statistically significant. This result could have important implications in marketing and in efforts to improve intertemporal decision-marking.


The effect of military service on soldiers' time preferences - Evidence from Israel

Eyal Lahav, Uri Benzion & Tal Shavit
Judgment and Decision Making, February 2011, Pages 130-138

The current field study compares the time preferences of young adults of similar ages but in two very different environments, one more dangerous and uncertain than the other. Soldiers, college students and a control group of teenagers answered questionnaires about their time preferences. During mandatory service, soldiers live in a violent atmosphere where they face great uncertainty about the near future and high risk of mortality (measured by probability of survival). University students and teenagers live in much calmer environment and are tested for performance only periodically. The soldier-subjects show relatively high subjective discount rates when compared to the other two groups. We suggest that the higher subjective discount rate among soldiers can be the result of high perceived risk in the army as an institution, or higher mortality risk.


Understanding Impulsive Aggression: Angry Rumination and Reduced Self-Control Capacity Are Mechanisms Underlying the Provocation-Aggression Relationship

Thomas Denson et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Interpersonal provocation is a common and robust antecedent to aggression. Four studies identified angry rumination and reduced self-control as mechanisms underlying the provocation-aggression relationship. Following provocation, participants demonstrated decreased self-control on an unpleasant task relative to a control condition (Study 1). When provoked, rumination reduced self-control and increased aggression. This effect was mediated by reduced self-control capacity (Study 2). State rumination following provocation, but not anger per se, mediated the effect of trait rumination on aggression (Study 3). Bolstering self-regulatory resources by consuming a glucose beverage improved performance on a measure of inhibitory control following rumination (Study 4). These findings suggest that rumination following an anger-inducing provocation reduces self-control and increases aggression. Bolstering self-regulatory resources may reduce this adverse effect.


Age and body image in caucasian men

Christine Peat et al.
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, April 2011, Pages 195-200

The relationship between age and body image in men is not well understood as the limited number of available studies focus primarily on young or college-aged men. Thus, this study sought to determine how body dissatisfaction levels might differ between older and younger adult men. Participants completed body dissatisfaction, mood, and demographic questionnaires. Results indicated significant differences in body dissatisfaction between younger and older men such that younger men reported greater dissatisfaction despite having a lower body mass index. Such findings add to the limited understanding of male body image and suggest that sociocultural factors may play a significant role in the development of body dissatisfaction for men.


The declining significance of homohysteria for male students in three sixth forms in the south of England

M. McCormack
British Educational Research Journal, April 2011, Pages 337-353

English schools have traditionally been institutions with high levels of homophobia. This is attributed to the need that heterosexual boys have to maintain a heteromasculine identity. However, by drawing on 44 in-depth interviews and 12 months of participant observation across three sixth forms, I detail the ways in which homophobia holds little cultural sway with the heterosexual male students in these settings. Here, the majority of students intellectualise pro-gay attitudes, maintain friendships with openly gay students and are physically tactile with each other. Homophobic discourse is rarely heard and it is even stigmatised in two of the settings. Homosexually-themed language that I call 'gay discourse' replaces it. This discourse maintains socio-negative effect, but it is also used by openly gay students to bond with their heterosexual peers. Accordingly, this research shows that cultural homophobia maintains less significance than has been documented in previous studies.


He throws like a girl (but only when he's sad): Emotion affects sex-decoding of biological motion displays

Kerri Johnson, Lawrie McKay & Frank Pollick
Cognition, May 2011, Pages 265-280

Gender stereotypes have been implicated in sex-typed perceptions of facial emotion. Such interpretations were recently called into question because facial cues of emotion are confounded with sexually dimorphic facial cues. Here we examine the role of visual cues and gender stereotypes in perceptions of biological motion displays, thus overcoming the morphological confounding inherent in facial displays. In four studies, participants' judgments revealed gender stereotyping. Observers accurately perceived emotion from biological motion displays (Study 1), and this affected sex categorizations. Angry displays were overwhelmingly judged to be men; sad displays were judged to be women (Studies 2-4). Moreover, this pattern remained strong when stimuli were equated for velocity (Study 3). We argue that these results were obtained because perceivers applied gender stereotypes of emotion to infer sex category (Study 4). Implications for both vision sciences and social psychology are discussed.


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