Are we really less violent?


In the first few lines of chapter 7 the author explains how violence has decreased during the last couple hundred years. But does this means that we have become less violent? Take for example the A-Bomb that was launched on Hiroshima and Nagazaki during WWII. After them, institutions and overall government cooperation and regulation have become much more strict in order to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again. But, again,that doesn´t mean that other types of violence have not risen or that people itself have not become more violent. Take the Medal of Honor or the Warcraft video games. Why do people enjoy playing video games which reward the number of killed people? The psychological impact that those kinds of activites may have on young kids who are the main segment of the population that plays them could result in greater violence indexes in the future.


Hi Pedro,

Related to your comment on how violent video games can result in greater violence indexes, there’s a 2001 report of the U.S. Surgeon General on the topic of youth violence where they have found an association between violent video games and increased aggressive thinking and behavior in youths. And some casual observers go further, assuming that tragic school shootings prove a link between such games and real-world aggression.

On the other hand, other researchers have challenged the popular view that violent video games are harmful. Several of them contributed papers to a special issue of the Review of General Psychology, published in June 2010 by the American Psychological Association.

In one paper, Dr. Christopher Ferguson, a psychology professor at Texas A&M International University, argued that many studies on the issue of media violence rely on measures to assess aggression that don’t correlate with real-world violence — and even more important, many are observational approaches that don’t prove cause and effect. He also cited data from federal criminal justice agencies showing that serious violent crimes among youths have decreased since 1996, even as video game sales have soared

So what do you think? Can we really state that violent videogames have an impact on greater violence indexes?


Hi Pedro

I don’t think that playing violent video games is a good proxy for how violent a society really is. I believe the best proxy is how many homicides occur per 100,000 inhabitants. On that domain this is a great time to be alive! Institutions have brought a great playing field were violence is deterred.

We probably feel as this is a very dangerous time because of the media but imagine living during WWI, 3% of the world population was killed! In Mexico, perhaps against beliefs, violence has been strongly declining since 1986. The main cause is attributed to institutions: Property rights became well defined thus there were less homicides due to land disputes.

Here is a great document reporting the reduction in violent crimes in England. Go straight to page 3


Jaime, I strongly agree with you in the part that institutions have helped on reducing de violence, such as The United Nations was founded almost after the World War II, Now the countries respect such thing called diplomacy, at least in certain level.

On the other hand, I don’t think it is the only reason why worldwide the violence has been reducted. Another reason is the amount of impunity that existed before, and how, in many countries is more possible that if you do something violent, you will get caught.

My third argument on why violence has gone down, is that many countries have less access to arms that the access they had some centuries ago. Imagine you living in de Wild West, it was almost sure that you had one gun carrying almost everywhere, and you fought with some guy in a cantina, very likely this fight would end with someone dead.

Answering the main question of this topic, I don’t think that in our nature we are less violent, look at the videogames, that as you said (Pedro), people enjoy killing, also look at the masive murders in the USA (where they have access to guns), sometimes for simply pleasure. We might be as violent as we were before, but the circunstances have changed to be a more peaceful society.