Model output regarding rates of gun accidents and gun use. from Brief use of a specific gun in a violent game does not affect attitudes towards that gun

Although much attention has been paid to the question of whether violent video games increase aggressive behaviour, little attention has been paid to how such games might encourage antecedents of gun violence. In this study, we examined how product placement, the attractive in-game presentation of certain real-world firearm brands, might encourage gun ownership, a necessary antecedent of gun violence. We sought to study how the virtual portrayal of a real-world firearm (the Bushmaster AR-15) could influence players' attitudes towards the AR-15 in specific and gun ownership in general. College undergraduates (<i>N</i> = 176) played one of four modified video games in a 2 (gun: AR-15 or science-fiction control) ×2 (gun power: strong or weak) between-subjects design. Despite collecting many outcomes and examining many potential covariates and moderators, experimental assignment did little to influence outcomes of product evaluations or purchasing intentions with regard to the AR-15. Attitudes towards public policy and estimation of gun safety were also not influenced by experimental condition, although these might have been better tested by comparison against a no-violence control condition. By contrast, gender and political party had dramatic associations with all outcomes. We conclude that, if product placement shapes attitudes towards firearms, such effects will need to be studied with stronger manipulations or more sensitive measures.