People are eight times more likely to blame violent video games for a mass shooting if a perpetrator is white than if the shooter is black, according to a new study published today in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture. The researchers analyzed more than 200,000 articles from the past 40 years and found that video games were far more likely to be mentioned in stories about white shooters. A second part of the study tested the biases among a group of 169 students, and found “a small but statistically significant difference between the number of people who strongly agreed that video games were a factor in the case of the white shooter and those who said the same of the black shooter,” according to the MIT Technology Review.
The report’s authors gave participants a fictional story about an 18-year-old male shooter said to be obsessed with video games. Half of the group was given the mug shot of a black man while the other half got a mug shot of a white man to accompany the report. Researchers asked the students whether the perpetrator’s history of playing violent video games played a factor in his committing the crime. The study shows that students were more likely to believe video games were a factor if the mug shot was the white man. Gun researchers say there is no established link between video games and violence.