Study: Religiosity and Playing Video Games Linked With Sexism Towards Women

Study: Religiosity and Playing Video Games Linked With Sexism Towards Women
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To anyone who plays video games, it should come as little surprise that female characters have often been portrayed as passive damsels in distress or hypersexualized objects of desire. Lately, game makers have focused on unwinding these unflattering stereotypes, but much work still needs to be done.

The evolution of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Given decades of a sexist status quo in video games, a team of French and American researchers sought to find out if young gamers internalize this messaging, and thus are more likely to espouse sexist attitudes towards women.

The researchers surveyed 13,520 French youth aged 11-19 attending public or private schools in Grenoble and Lyon, France. As part of a questionnaire, students were asked to estimate the amount of time they spend watching television and playing video games every day. They were also asked to report how often they attend religious services and how important religion is in their everyday life.

To gauge sexism, students were presented with the statement, “A woman is made mainly for making and raising children," and asked to indicate their level of agreement from fully disagree (1) to fully agree (4).

After controlling for gender and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that time spent playing video games was highly associated (P<.001) with espousing this belief about women, though the effect size was small (r=.11). Religiosity, on the other hand, was a much better predictor of sexism.

"The link between religion and sexism was three times higher than the link between video games and sexism," the researchers report in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

The researchers weren't expressly focused on religion for their study, but they did note that this result is in line with prior research.

As for video games and their relation to sexist attitudes, the jury is still out. While the present study benefits from a large sample group, it is limited by employing only one question to measure sexism. It's also correlational and based on self-reported data, which is problematic when trying to ascertain a clear and unbiased association. Moreover, a prior study conducted in 2015 with 824 German gamers found no link between sexist attitudes and time spent playing video games.

Source: Bègue L, Sarda E, Gentile DA, Bry C and Roche S (2017). Video Games Exposure and Sexism in a Representative Sample of Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 8:466. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00466

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