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Video Games May Have Some Influence Over Sexist Attitudes

Mar 29, 2017 09:32 AM EDT
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A new study revealed that repeated exposure to videogames with female characters that are attractive, scantily clad, portrayed provocatively and have limited roles could influence a player's sexist attitudes.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, showed that the way female characters are being portrayed in videogames can affect the underlying attitudes of male gamers towards the opposite sex.

"Many different aspects of life can influence sexist attitudes. It was surprising to find a small but significant link between game play and sexism. Video games are not intended to teach sexist views, but most people don't realize how attitudes can shift with practice," said Douglas Gentile, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University and co-author of the study, in a press release. "Nonetheless, much of our learning is not conscious and we pick up on subtle cues without realizing it."

For the study, the researchers surveyed 13,520 adolescents, ages 11 to 29. The participants spent approximately two hours a day playing videogames and nearly three hours a day watching television, on average.

In the survey, the participants were asked if they agree or disagree with the following statement, "A woman is made mainly for making and raising children." The researchers found that participants who spent more time playing videogames were more likely to agree with the statement.

Aside from playing videogames, the researchers also measured the influence of watching television and religion to sexist attitude. The researchers found that the relationship between religion and sexism was three times higher than videogames. On the other hand, watching television appears to be unrelated to sexism.

The researchers noted that the extremely high influence of religion to sexism is likely because religion have historically taken a traditional view of gender roles. Meanwhile, the extremely low influence of television to sexism is evidence of the growing number and variety of female character roles on TV compared to 20 years ago.

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