That is one of the findings of an innovative new study in the January issue of Psychology of Violence, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Psychological Association.
“Our research suggests that parents, educators and others need to consider the harmful impact of stereotype-laden games on a group that has become a major target of prejudice within the United States,” said University of Michigan researcher Muniba Saleem, co-author of the study with Iowa State University researcher Craig Anderson.
Saleem and Anderson recruited 204 participants, randomly assigning them to play one of three video games for 30 minutes. Two of the games were versions of “Counter-Strike,” one with Arab terrorists and the other with Russian terrorists. The third game was a nonviolent golf game.
They gave participants paper and colored pencils, and asked them to draw four people: a “typical” Arab and Caucasian man and woman. Then raters coded the drawings based on the emotions depicted, stereotypical appearance and presence or absence of a weapon.
The standard tests showed that playing violent video games, even those featuring Russians as terrorists, increased anti-Arab attitudes. And the drawing test showed the same effect. Participants who played a terrorism-themed video game were more likely than those who played the golf game to draw Arabs with stereotypical traits and Arab men with weapons and angry expressions on their face.
“It’s possible that the effects of video game stereotypes on anti-Arab attitudes are especially strong because of the overall lack of direct contact with Arabs among our participants,” Saleem said.
In the absence of direct, personal contact, participants rely on media depictions of Arabs, which, Saleem points out, rarely show Arabs in a positive light.
“Clearly, additional work is needed on how video games might influence stereotypes and attitudes toward any outgroups that are depicted in these games, particular on the long-term effects,” Saleem said.
“But it is vital to improve our understanding of this process, so we will be in a better position to reduce the harmful effects of negative beliefs about people, not only within a particular society, but between nations.”
Established in 1949, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization, and a world leader in developing and applying social science methodology, and in educating researchers and students from around the world. ISR conducts some of the most widely cited studies in the nation, including the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the world’s largest digital social science data archive. For more information, visit the ISR website at www.isr.umich.edu.
The study tested levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from 400 sunbeds in the UK and found that nine in ten of the sunbeds tested emitted UV radiation at levels above British and EU standards. The average strength of radiation was approaching twice the recommended limit.
The Cancer Research UK study also compared the skin cancer risk from using these sunbeds with the risk from the Mediterranean midday summer sun. The average skin cancer risk from the sunbeds tested was more than twice that of spending the same length of time in the Mediterranean midday summer sun, with one of the sunbeds producing a skin cancer risk six times higher than the sun.
Professor Harry Moseley, consultant medical physicist at University of Dundee and lead author, said: “The development of high-power sunlamps, along with clear failures of the sunbed industry to regulate themselves effectively, is putting young people at an even greater risk of skin cancer than we previously thought.
“We hope that these findings will make people think twice before using sunbeds as you can’t be sure how much radiation you’re exposing yourself to when you try to top-up a tan. People need to be encouraged to take better care of their skin, otherwise the cases of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, will continue to increase in England.”
Yinka Ebo, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s worrying to see that so many sunbeds in England are not meeting the safety standards. This strengthens our advice that using a sunbed just isn’t worth it.
“Research has already shown that using sunbeds for the first time before the age of 35 increases the risk of malignant melanoma by 87 per cent. They’re not going to do you any good – the best case scenario is that they’ll age and damage your skin; the worst case scenario is a cancer diagnosis and potentially death.”
The strength of UV from sunbeds was found to be no different in those areas where the licensing of sunbeds is required compared to unlicensed areas.
The British and European standard** was introduced in 2003 and sets out a maximum level of UV radiation to be emitted by sunbeds used for cosmetic purposes. The findings suggest that there is much more work for local authorities to do to ensure that standards are being met by tanning businesses.
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists explained: “Product safety standards are there to protect the public and the government needs to step up its regulation of the industry.
“England is sadly trailing behind the rest of the UK in this matter. We need proper legislation, covering issues like safety of equipment and health warnings for clients and enforceable through inspections of premises.”
For media enquiries please contact Greg Jones on 020 3469 8311 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.
- Contact Diane Swanbrow
Notes to Editors:
* Researchers measured the radiation emitted from 402 sunbeds across England between October 2010 and February 2011
**BS EN 60335-2-27:2003 British Standard Institution BSI Household and Similar Electrical Appliances – Safety – Part 2-27: Particular requirements for appliances for skin exposure to ultraviolet and infrared radiation. The standard was endorsed by the European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP): Opinion on Biological effects of ultraviolet radiation relevant to health with particular reference to sunbeds for cosmetic purposes. 2006: SCCP/0949/05. All EU member states, including the UK government agreed to introduce this level, from 1 April 2009, for all new and traded tanning devices.
Title and DOI
P Tierney et al, ‘Nine out of ten sunbeds in England emit UV radiation levels that exceed current safety limits’
British Journal of Dermatology: Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis; P Tierney, J Ferguson, S Ibbotson, R Dawe, E Eadie, H Moseley; The Photobiology Unit, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, University of Dundee, DD1 9SY, U.K.
Articles in the BJD can be viewed online: www.brjdermatol.org
About Cancer Research UK
- Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
- The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. This work is funded entirely by the public.
- Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
- Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
- Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.
For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook
About the British Association of Dermatologists
The British Association of Dermatologists is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease.
Wiley-Blackwell, created in February 2007 by merging Blackwell Publishing with Wiley’s Global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business, is now one of the world’s foremost academic and professional publishers and the largest society publisher. With a combined list of more than 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal, this new business sets the standard for publishing in the life and physical sciences, medicine and allied health, engineering, humanities and social sciences. For more information visit www.wiley.com.
For media enquiries contact:
Head. Press Office
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384910
MOBILE: 07800 581902