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Gamers against science: The case of the violent video games debate



This article explores the notion that scientific research programs and empirical findings are fundamentally devalued when they threaten a perceiver's social identity. Findings from three studies show the following: (1) identification with the group of “gamers” (i.e., people who play video games on a regular basis) influences the extent to which perceivers devalue research suggesting that playing violent video games has negative consequences; (2) this effect is mediated by the feeling that the group of gamers is being stigmatized by such research (Studies 1 and 2) as well as by anger about this research (Study 2); (3) the effect of in-group identification on negative research evaluations cannot be explained by attitude or behavioral preference inconsistency (Studies 1 and 3); and (4) strongly identified gamers not only devalue a specific scientific study but also generalize their negative evaluations to the entire field of violent video games research (Study 3). The findings suggest that the influence of social identity processes on the evaluation of research is larger than it has previously been recognized. Implications of these findings for science communication are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.