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Unformatted text preview: given the current national concern about this problem.
It is also important to present this report because of the disparity between, on one side, the
actual research findings and, on the other side, the intransigent assertions made by a number of
vocal critics. That is, although research shows the adverse effects of media violence, and there is
increasing consensus among researchers in this area about these effects, the critics continue to
pronounce that media violence cannot be affecting youth (e.g., Fowles, 1999; Freedman, 1984,
2002; Rhodes, 2000). Also indicative of this difference in views, a recent statistical analysis of the
media-violence research (Bushman & Anderson, 2001) demonstrated that although the scientific
evidence has grown considerably stronger over the past three decades, recent news reports imply Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 12 that the scientific evidence is weaker than did earlier news reports.
In this report, we do not deal directly with recent critiques of the field. A number of carefully
reasoned essays already point out flaws in the critiques and explain why the proposition that media
violence can have adverse effects on its audience is so strongly opposed by various interest groups
(Bushman & Anderson, 2001; Hamilton, 1998; Huesmann, Eron, Berkowitz, & Chaffee, 1992;
Huesmann & Moise, 1996; Huesmann & Taylor, 2003). Rather, our purpose is to summarize
current scientific knowledge about five critical questions:
• What does research say about the relation—both short-term and long-term— between media
violence and aggressive and violent behavior? (Overview of Empirical Research)
• How does media violence produce its effects on aggressive and violent behavior? (Theoretical
• What characteristics of media violence are most influential, and who is most susceptible to such
influences? (Research on Moderator Effects)
• How widespread and accessible is violence in the media (television, movies, music videos, video
games, Internet)? (Research on Media Use and Content)
• How can individuals and society counteract the influence of media violence? (Research on
We summarize our observations in the Discussion section, which also identifies crucial areas for
In reading through this monograph, a few important points should be kept in mind: First,
researchers investigating the impact of media violence on youth have focused mostly on how it
affects the viewer's aggression. Aggression is defined by psychologists as any behavior that is
intended to harm another person. There are many forms of aggression. For example, verbal
aggression usually refers to saying hurtful things to the victim. Relational or indirect aggression
refers to behavior that is intended to harm the target person but is enacted outside of the target Media Violence 13 person's view (e.g., behind his or her back), such as telling lies to get the person in trouble or to
harm his or her interpersonal relationships. The aggressive behaviors of greatest concern usually
involve physical aggression. Physical aggression may range in severity from less serious acts, such
as pushing or shoving, to more serious physical assaults and fighting, extending to violent acts that
carry a significant risk of serious injury. There is no clear-cut consensus-based line separating
"violence" from milder forms of physical aggression, nor is one needed to understand the research
findings on media violence. We use the term violence to refer to the more extreme forms of
physical aggression that have a significant risk of seriously injuring their victims.
Some studies have focused on the impact of media violence on aggressive thinking, including
beliefs and attitudes that promote aggression. Other studies have focused on the influence of media
violence on aggressive emotions–that is, on emotional reactions, such as anger, that are related to
aggressive behavior. It is important to keep these three types of outcome variables (behavior,
thoughts, emotions) separate, and to reserve the labels "aggression" and "violence" for behaviors
intended to harm another person.
Second, as we and others have frequently noted, the weight of evidence indicates that violent
actions seldom result from a single cause; rather, multiple factors converging over time contribute
to such behavior. Accordingly, the influence of the mass media is best viewed as one of the many
potential factors that help to shape behavior, including aggression. When we use causal language,
we do not mean that exposure to media violence is either a necessary or a sufficient cause of
aggressive behavior, let alone both necessary and sufficient (Anderson & Bushman, 2002c). To our
knowledge, no media-violence researcher has ever made such an extreme claim. The 14-year-old
boy arguing that he has played violent video games for years and has not ever killed anybody is
absolutely correct in rejecting the extreme “necess...
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2013 for the course ELECTRICAL 205 taught by Professor Tom during the Spring '13 term at American University in Cairo.
- Spring '13
- The Land