Research finds video game sexualization doesn’t increase female gamers’ body dissatisfaction

Tomb Raider Underworld

Video games have been a target ever since we’ve had games like Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto. Opponents like Jack Thompson have attacked violent video games by trying to link them to real-world violence. However, there have been numerous studies that show that there are no links between aggression and violent video games. Games featuring sexualized characters have also been under the microscope with opponents saying that they can increase female gamers’ body dissatisfaction. However, new research from the American Psychological Association finds that sexualization in video games does not increase body dissatisfaction or aggression toward other women. In addition, media influences from video games look to be slight.

In the study, female gamers at random were directed to play a “Tomb Raider” video game with a more or less sexualized avatar. They were asked to report on their self-objectification, body dissatisfaction, and hostility and aggression toward a female character. As it turns out, the participants were not influenced by the exposure of the sexualized avatar.

The study states: “These results indicate that, at least for video games, exposure to sexualized females may not have a substantial impact on female players.”

The research is done by Danielle Lindner, Ph. D., assistant professor of psychology at Stetson University; Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Stetson University; Stetson University alumna Melissa Trible; and Ilana Pilato, Ph.D. candidate, at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

There have been many studies on video game violence, and new research in video game aggression comes from Springer’s Journey of Youth and Adolescence. It finds that violent video games aren’t causing future aggression in youth.

The research used over 3,000 youth in Singapore around the age of 11, with almost 73 percent being male gamers, to find out if there are links between aggressive gameplay and aggressive outcomes years later.

“Aggressive Video Games Are Not a Risk Factor for Future Aggression in Youth: A Longitudinal Study” is based on research conducted by Dr. Ferguson and C.K. John Wang, Ph.D., professor of sport and exercise psychology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The questions asked include games they have played and how often are they playing those games.

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John Nguyen
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