Correlation doesn’t prove causation

By defaultuser
February 26, 2009

Megan Pellegrino

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the article on the relation between video game playing and drug usage. I have spent the last decade studying video game behavior in males and females and recognize that video game playing may have beneficial as well as detrimental effects.

Yes, it is true that studies find a link between aggressive behavior and violence in video games, and there may also be a link between playing video games and drug usage, but these studies are merely correlational.

Correlational research only shows that two variables are connected in some way; it does not prove that one variable cause the other. In fact, studies have shown that owning a dog correlates with driving a red car. Does one cause the other? No way. Thus, linking drug usage to video game playing is artifactual.

Perhaps a third variable, like depression, could be related to the two, maybe an individual would self medicate with drugs and stay at home, because he or she is depressed, and plays video games.

There could be many other variables at work here, and I want to point that out. Video game playing has been linked to other benefits, like improvements in spatial ability and visuospatial reasoning. Video games are not all that bad.

Thank you,
Dr. Melissa Terlecki,
Psychology Dept.

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