Psychiatrist who claimed games have caused an 'increase in rapes' responds, explains nothing

Recently, we posted a facetious response to a Fox News article titled, 'Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?' In Fox's piece, psychiatrist Carole Lieberman is quoted as saying that violent games have caused an "increase in rapes." Such an absurd statement demanded ridicule, but we did feel that Dr. Lieberman deserved a chance to explain herself. Perhaps she was misquoted?

Today, Dr. Lieberman issued a condescending response to "all of the reporters, editors, bloggers, gamers, and others" who contacted her regarding the quoted statement.

"When the Columbine murders took place, there were national polls where people voted on what they believed caused the two young men to kill. Media violence ranked high on the list, so I, obviously mistakenly, assumed that people still knew about the studies showing this connection - and believed them to have proven the link."

The research she "assumed we still knew about" most notably included 'Vulnerability to Violent Video Games: A Review and Integration of Personality Research,' a study published by the American Psychological Association (APA). The paper reviews past research on violent games, and concludes a link between violent games and aggressive behavior "in some individuals."

The report concedes that "a considerable number of studies have failed to find compelling links between VVGs (Violent Video Games) and aggression," but suggests that these inconsistencies may be the result of "poor research design and invalid measurements to publication biases," which seems awfully dismissive. None of these contrary studies were pointed out by Dr. Lieberman (such as the findings of the Australian government, or this study by Yale).

Even so, the APA report states that "it is clear that most children who play these games do not go on to behave in violent or murderous ways," and concludes that violent games are most likely to have an adverse effect on children who exhibit the following traits: high neuroticism (e.g., easily upset, angry, depressed, emotional, etc.), low agreeableness (e.g., little concern for others, indifferent to others feelings, cold, etc.) and low conscientiousness (e.g., break rules, don’t keep promises, act without thinking, etc.).

So, according to this research, kids who are depressed, angry, cold, and impulsive may exhibit aggression when exposed to violent media. And this conclusion supports the claim that violent games have caused an increase in rape? Did Dr. Lieberman read this? Granted, she also provided links to reports on violent pornography and an article admonishing 'RapeLay', but those articles and studies are either not expressly about videogames, or have little relevance to mainstream titles like Bulletstorm.

Most importantly, Dr. Lieberman does not defend her claim that there has been an "increase in rape." According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, instances of sexual violence have decreased by 60% since 1993 (the same year Doom was released, by the way). If we were, much like Fox News, in the habit of ignoring that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, we could say that violent games have caused a decrease in rape. How about that, Doc?

Her full response is below (sans attached documents):

Hi everyone,

I am sending this email to all of the reporters, editors, bloggers, gamers and others who have contacted me asking about what my opinion regarding violent video games was based upon. When I was first asked to provide studies, I did not have them on my fingertips - not because I didn't know they existed - but because I thought that everyone already knew about these studies and I had them filed away. My obligations to patients and other professional commitments have delayed my gathering these examples of such studies, and sending them to you, until now.

I have worked in the area of media violence for many years. This included testifying before Congress on the issue, doing numerous media interviews, stopping the 'Schwarzenegger rocket' that was to have had an ad for "Last Action Hero" on it, being invited to contribute an essay on video game violence to Larry King's book Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, etc. When the Columbine murders took place, there were national polls where people voted on what they believed caused the two young men to kill. Media violence ranked high on the list, so I, obviously mistakenly, assumed that people still knew about the studies showing this connection - and believed them to have proven the link.

In any case, I would appreciate your including a mention of these studies on your websites, blogs or comments, or at least including a mention of the fact that I did provide such studies to you. Thank you.

1) AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION-Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media

Feb 14, 2011


  • laurenhiya21 - February 19, 2011 12:20 a.m.

    she based her reasearch on.. polls? wow, she's either really stupid or just wants a lot of attention .___. (i think it's both)
  • Syncmaster - February 17, 2011 2:46 a.m.

    man, if Epic sued her for saying shit about their game in the air without a single strong evidence, they can win a right to reply on fox channel on the same time she said it, imagine, free propaganda of an ultra violent game right in Fox's nose!
  • Syncmaster - February 17, 2011 2:39 a.m.

    for all my law understanding (little), she specified a product to cause raising in raping and stuff, it wasnt just "the game industry" right? well, epic games could just sue the bitch out of her. she is publicly slandering a product made by them with no evidence at all..
  • ChiefLethal - February 15, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    Since she feels comfortable making judgments about games and the people that play them, i thought it would be a good idea to judge her books based purely on their title. AHHGHGHGHHHHEM First up is "BAD GIRLS: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girla Can Learn Their Secrets" The author suggests that to get the attention of men, Women need to act like GIGANTIC sluts. And Finally, "Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them, and When to Leave Them" The author passes fleeting generalizations of women all over the country off as undeniable fact. According to the text within, if you are a woman and aren't dating a 'bad boy', then you should probably kill yourself. And if you do decide to leave your 'bad boy', realize that the reasons your relationship failed were entirely your fault. The book ends, referring the reader to her other book (previously mentioned) for insight on how to "slut-up" one's image.
  • sgt_phsco - February 15, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    If that is how she present things as a professional psychologist then she seriously needs to back to university and re-sit it. I'm in my second year studying Psychology, and one of my exams was on research methods, which I'm betting she would fail. Epicly.
  • JBizFoShiz - February 15, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    Echoing Rhybo's earlier comment, Tyler did an awesome job with a concise, straight-forward, easy-to-understand rebuttal. You know, the complete opposite of Dr. Lieberman. Unfortunately, some of the comments here (like her address, the "she's dumb!!1!" type of stuff) doesn't favor the already-accepted image of "the gamer". She's already been flamed by pretty much anybody who's held a controller and can work a keyboard. There's not much else to say that somebody hasn't already said! (minus an expletive or 5) Instead of being upset with her or Fox News, I'm just going to keep playing AC: Brotherhood, and try to reach level 50 by constantly killing other people's virtual characters. I'll try my best not to rape anybdoy in the process of playing this violent video game.
  • ben201288 - February 15, 2011 8:31 a.m.

    thing is that "media violence" isn't just Video Games. There are the movies and tv shows that show just as much if not more violence.
  • michaelpreston - February 15, 2011 5:26 a.m.

    Get a life, woman!
  • J-spit - February 15, 2011 2:57 a.m.

    I'm usually against rape, but this lady makes me want to unload a bus full of escaped convicts into her bedroom. She's as evil as my previous thought.
  • Mike657 - February 15, 2011 2:14 a.m.

    I hate it when amateur phsyciatrists/docters/reporters/nutjobs say dumb stuff like this. It isn't just rape rates that are dropping, GLOBAL crimes rates have been falling for years and years now. Morons like her who do stuff like this are asking for it-they say indefensible things about the majority of people who use the INTERNET. Its equivalent reputation-wise to going on one of those racist rants in public that seem to be all the rage these days.
  • RamenDragon - February 15, 2011 1:53 a.m.

    This is a downright embarrassment to Fox News and even journalism in general. I'm not saying they're wrong just because they make claims against a medium I love, but because those claims make no sense whatsoever. Her primary examples, the Columbine shooters, never committed rape, so to make such reckless claims based on a single example that doesn't even relate to the issue carries less than just a little weight. Plus, any psychoanalyst could tell you that media had no relationship with the Columbine shootings, as one shooter was a depressive and the other was a psychopath, and it was their own unstable psychological states that brought forth the shootings, unaffected by any media. Not to mention that the study was conducted based on POPULAR VOTE, collected from people who also have no comprehension of video games or of the shooters. And that's not even to mention everything already brought up in Wilde's article, including the ridiculously obvious fact that rape hasn't increased at all, so even the circumstances surrounding her claims don't have any basis. I can't believe that one of the most popular news publications in history can get away with this, even one known for absurd hyperbole.
  • The - February 15, 2011 1:34 a.m.

    Try to the raping to minimum when you're done.
  • Rhybo - February 15, 2011 1:27 a.m.

    I must go on and add that we shouldn't respond to the good doctor with hate-mail and inflamed phone calls... that makes us look like idiots. A few years ago an internet reporter (I'm scrounging to find it but I can't... apologies) wrote a scathing article about how cadets at the Military Academy don't turn out to be any better Army Officers than those produced out of ROTC programs from civilian colleges. Once the cadets caught wind of this they began responding (understandably) enraged. However, this article made the best and the brightest of our nations finest come off like hot-headed idiots who reduced themselves to name calling and heated, unprofessional outbursts. The point is that we sound like that. It doesn't help our cause (especially posting the address and phone number of a practicing doctor... yes you The...) simply to send her hate and vent our anger. Those actions will only fuel her argument while dislodging our current, rather favorable, position. I humbly ask, please temper your anger because it only supports her (and others) "theory" that games = bad. Be polite, be professional, and lay on hurt by pointing out her lack of empirical evidence and quietly smirking on the inside. Now I'm off slay to virtual bodies...
  • Rhybo - February 15, 2011 1:05 a.m.

    So I haven't read all the comments but I'm sure this has come out... bravo Tyler! I appreciate your citations, counter-points, and overall debate material that you've produced in an efficient manner. I'm sure this article has taken much longer to write than it looks, but the payoff is a scholarly rebuttal coming from a community that continues to surprise me everyday. Once again, thank you for defending what is near and dear to our hearts to those who wouldn't cast a second glance into this realm in such a way that a fan-boy or flamer couldn't possibly fathom. Good day.
  • BearKiller - February 15, 2011 12:59 a.m.

    I play videogames all the time and I'm one of the most non-violent people I know. Maybe I'm just the weirdo...
  • 04whim - February 15, 2011 12:19 a.m.

    Im a pacifistic hippie /thanks/ to gaming. The fact that I can rip the sun god's head off in god of war 3 fulfils me, leaving me with no desire to go out and do so in real life :)
  • g4m3rk1dd - February 15, 2011 midnight short...she STILL doesnt know wtf she is talking about...
  • The - February 14, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    A quick search of the Internet and WaLa. Carole Lieberman Md 204 S Beverly Dr Ste 108 Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (310) 278-5433 Send her phone call and tell her what you think.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - February 14, 2011 11:43 p.m.

    She makes me sick. Plus, if the Australian Gamer Ghetto (Government) has concluded that games aren't that evil, it pretty much settles it. On a side, slightly worrying, note - turns out I'm pretty susceptible much guarenteed to go on a killing spree after playing too many games. I would share this information with my parents but they still have the ability to remove my consoles from my possession.
  • OneEyedGoon - February 14, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    I can be depressed, angry, cold, and impulsive, and I still haven't raped anyone.

Showing 1-20 of 57 comments

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