mediaviolencefactsheet - Copy - Copy (2)

For example developmental theory suggests that

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Unformatted text preview: ortrayals of violence in the media have the same effect. It is therefore important to examine the characteristics of individuals, of media content, and of social environments that may increase or decrease--that is, moderate--the influence of media violence on aggressive behavior. A number of factors have been proposed as possible moderators, some on the basis of the psychological theorizing reviewed in the previous section, some because of empirical evidence that seems to suggest their importance, and Media Violence 47 others for both reasons. Viewer Characteristics Many viewer characteristics have been hypothesized as moderators of how people interpret and react to violent media content. For example, developmental theory suggests that younger children, whose social scripts, schemas, and beliefs are less crystallized than those of older children, should be more sensitive to this influence (Guerra et al., in press). Observational-learning theory suggests that the viewers' age and gender can influence the extent to which they identify with the depicted aggressive characters, which may in turn influence learning and enactment of the observed aggression. Relatively low intellectual competence might exacerbate the effects of exposure when the story plots are fairly subtle and complicated. A high level of aggressiveness might result in an enhanced susceptibility to media-violence effects by affecting the perception of violence in the observed scenes. Age and Gender of Viewer Paik and Comstock (1994) reported an inverse relation between viewers' age and the magnitude of the effect of TV violence on aggression and other antisocial behaviors. In other words, as several developmental psychologists had theorized, the media-violence effect was largest in the youngest age group (less than 5 years old). However, the moderating influence of age was found to be quite complicated: The effect size did not decrease consistently as age increased. For example, the overall effect size among college-age students matched or exceeded that for 6- to 11-year-olds in experimental studies. However, these comparisons did not control for the different outcome measures used in research with adults and children. Aggressive behavior is often used as an outcome measure for children, whereas measures of aggressive thoughts are often used for college students and adults. In one of the two longitudinal investigations that used the same behavioral measure of aggression on the same participants at different ages, the longitudinal effect of media violence on aggressive behavior was significant for children (age 8) but nonexistent for young Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 48 adults (age 19; Eron et al., 1972). But, what constitutes an appropriate or “best” measure of aggression differs for different ages and genders. Spousal violence is appropriate for adult couples but not children, whereas classroom aggression is more appropriate for children. To further complicate matters, the recent study by J.G. Johnson et al. (2002) found a larger longitudinal effect of television viewing on assault and fighting behavior at age 30 than at earlier ages (16, 22).3 Paik and Comstock (1994) also reported little difference in the average effect size for females and males. Although some early studies in the United States and some studies in other countries found stronger relations between media-violence viewing and aggression for boys than for girls (e.g., Eron et al., 1972), more recent investigations seem to show mostly similar effects. For example, in their recent study of children growing up between 1977 and 1995, Huesmann et al. (2003) reported similar effect sizes for males and females over 15 years old. However, there were some gender differences in the kinds of aggression associated with early childhood exposure to media violence. For example, early exposure to violence predicted increased use of indirect aggression (e.g., telling lies to get colleagues in trouble, taking other people's things out of anger) as an adult among females but not males; and early exposure to media violence had a stronger relation to physical aggression as an adult among males than females. Several possible factors have been suggested as contributors to these gender differences, as well as to changes in gender differences over time. One set concerns media violence itself: the difference in the frequency with which aggressive males and females are depicted in the mass media, the different kinds of aggression those characters use, and the increase in the depiction of aggressive females over the years. Another possible contributing factor is the increasing acceptability of female aggression by society--a change which makes it more likely that aggressive inclinations will be enacted by females. Aggressiveness of Viewer Individuals who are characteristically more aggressive than their peers are likely to have Media Violence 49 multiple risk factors predisposing them toward aggressive behavior. Existing research indicates that one of these risk factors...
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