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Unformatted text preview: Name /mea_gentil_106027/106027_06/Mp_107 10/16/2003 02:46PM Plate # 0 pg 107 # 1 C HAPTER 6 The Case against the Case against Media Violence L. Rowell Huesmann and Laramie D. Taylor Even before the introduction of television into everyday life over 50 years ago, the question of whether exposure to violence in the media made the viewer more violent was being debated. But it was the introduction of tele- vision into the average American home in the early 1950s that really stimu- lated an explosion of scientific research on the topic. In this chapter we are not going to review that large body of research in detail; other chapters in this volume do that and show that the accumulated research indicts media violence as a cause of viewers aggressive behavior. Rather, in this chapter we are going to deal with the writings of those who argue that media violence has no effect on aggression. Specifically, we will (1) summarize some of the most common aws in their arguments and criticisms, (2) respond in detail to the criticisms of several of the most vociferous naysayers, and (3) try to explain the psychology of why these naysayers find it so difficult to accept conclusions regarding media violence that are supported by large amounts of evidence while they find it easy to accept conclusions about other threats to public health supported by less compelling evidence. However, to accomplish these goals we need to begin by briey summarizing what the empirical evidence shows, how the integration of different methodologies leads to a particularly strong indictment of media violence, and what psychological processes explain the effects of media violence on aggression. Let us start with an explication of the psychological processes through which exposure to me- dia violence has an effect on viewers violent and aggressive behavior. Un- derstanding these processes is the key to understanding what the body of empirical data really shows. Name /mea_gentil_106027/106027_06/Mp_108 10/16/2003 02:46PM Plate # 0 pg 108 # 2 108 Media Violence and Children PROCESSES ACCOUNTING FOR EFFECTS OF MEDIA VIOLENCE To begin with one must realize that different processes explain short-term effects and long-term effects. Short-term effects are due to (1) priming processes, (2) excitation processes, and (3) the immediate imitation of specific behaviors (Bushman & Huesmann, 2000; Huesmann, 1988, 1998). Briey, priming is the process through which spreading activation in the brains neural network from the locus representing an external observed stim- ulus excites another brain node representing aggressive cognitions or behav- iors (Berkowitz, 1993). These excited nodes then are more likely to inuence behavior. The external stimulus can be inherently aggressive, for example, the sight of a gun (Berkowitz & LePage, 1967), or something neutral like a radio that has simply been nearby when a violent act was observed (Josephson, 1987). A provocation that follows a priming...
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