Last updated on: 5/4/2017 | Author:

Steven K. Pinker, PhD Biography

Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University
Con to the question "Do Violent Video Games Contribute to Youth Violence?"

“If consuming violent media made you violent, then we should prevent adults from reading The Iliad, or for that matter the Old Testament. Together with Shakespearean tragedies and Godfather movies and much else…

The data show that video games have skyrocketed in popularity during exactly the historical period in which violent crime has sunk to the floor. And in the same age cohorts.

I don’t think it’s because we have some hydraulic urge to violence that has to be channeled through one conduit lest it burst out into another… partly these are independent developments, partly the beneficial effect of video games may just be that if you’re playing video games you’re not getting into trouble in other ways. And so the young men who are behind the screen are not out picking fights in bars or over parking spots.”

Belfer Center, “Steven Pinker: The Impact of Violent Video Games on Kids,”, Aug. 1, 2016

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Individuals with PhDs, MDs, or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to violence and video games. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to media violence and related issues.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2016-present
  • Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, 2013-present
  • Harvard College Professor, Harvard University, 2003-2013
  • Peter de Florez Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2000-2003
  • Director, McDonnell-Pew Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT, 1994-1999
  • Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, 1989-2000
  • Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Science, MIT, 1985-1994
  • Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, 1985-1989
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, MIT, 1982-1985
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Stanford University, 1981-1982
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 1989-1981
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Cognitive Science, MIT, 1979-1980
  • PhD, Experimental Psychology, Harvard University, 1979
  • BA, Psychology, McGill University, 1976
  • Twitter handle: @sapinker
  • Recipient, William James Fellow Award for Lifetime Achievement, Association for Psychological Science, 2016
  • Recipient, Humanist of the Year, American Humanist Association in 2006
  • Time named him one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today” in 2004
  • His book How the Mind Works was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction
  • Born Sep. 18, 1954 in Montreal, Canada
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Do Violent Video Games Contribute to Youth Violence?