Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Much Study About Nothing

I followed a link on Penny Arcade to this article about gamers and their self-images. It is about a study conducted by a professor of psychology in Kansas State University. Basically he has exposed students to video games that feature characters of 'extreme physique' for 15 minutes at a time, and he has found out that the subjects had displayed increased levels of insecurity regarding their own bodies, after the experience.

“It was kind of sobering that it did have such a short-term effect,” Harris [author of the study] said.

Even though this blog of mine is about the business side of things, I cannot help but comment about this one. The real sobering issue in this study is that even the scientific community is not above taking cheap shots at video gaming for the sake of gaining popularity, for I highly doubt this study of Dr.Harris would find any homage in any scientific journal of any kind otherwise.

I am not a psychologist, but neither do I need to be in order to call someone on it when they point out the obvious. The methodology of the study is probably the most ridiculuous thing I have heard in a long time. Exposing people to images of, let's say it, "beautiful people" would have the same effect on any medium. It could as well have been on TV or magazines. Spending 15 minutes in the same room with a person of above-average physique would have the same effect.

Why? Because, my dear professor of psychology, it is a thing called relativity. Our perception of self constantly readjusts itself based on the most immediately available reference point. You can feel tall after spending 15 minutes in the same room with a bunch of midgets. You can feel 'dwarfed' by a team of basketball players after 15 minutes of playing with them. If a field expert can call the display of such a blatantly obvious human characteristic to be "sobering," I would be forced to question their sobriety throughout their academic career.

A more meaningful study would have been looking at the long term effects of the issue, but of course, why bother when you can complete a scientific study in 30 minutes?

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