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Unformatted text preview: plaining why and when exposure to media
violence causes increases in aggression and violence. Although the scope of this overview did not
include positive media influences, the same principles used to explain and understand how media
violence increases aggression could also help to clarify how media examples of prosocial behavior
might cause increases in prosocial behavior. Media violence produces short-term increases in
aggression by activating (priming) aggressive thoughts, increasing physiological arousal, and
triggering an automatic tendency to imitate observed behaviors (especially among children). Media
violence produces long-term increases in aggression and violence by creating long-lasting (and
automatically accessible) aggressive scripts and interpretational schemas, and aggressionsupporting beliefs and attitudes about appropriate social behavior. Additionally, repeated exposure
to violence desensitizes individuals’ normal negative emotional responses to violence, thereby
making it easier to think about engaging in violence and decreasing sympathetic and helping
reactions to victims of violence.
Although more research is needed to specify the conditions that exacerbate or mitigate the
negative effects of exposure to violent media, knowledge about some of the critical links in the
causal chain between viewing violence and behaving aggressively or violently is growing.
Moderators in this chain include certain characteristics of viewers (e.g., age, aggressiveness,
perceptions of media realism, identification with aggressive characters) and their social
environment (e.g., parental and family influences), as well as aspects of media content (e.g.,
perpetrator characteristics, degree of realism, justification of violence, depiction of the
consequences of violence). The relative influence of these factors is not yet clear, but their
importance is clear. Research on moderators not only enhances understanding of media violence
and aggression, but also provides clues to potential avenues for preventive intervention. For
example, the research points to the vital role of parents in supervising and influencing what their Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 68 children see and do, and in helping them to interpret media violence in ahealthy (or less harmful)
Finally, the existing empirical research on moderators suggests that no one is exempt from the
deleterious effects of media violence; neither gender, nor nonaggressive personality, nor superior
upbringing, nor higher social class, nor greater intelligence provides complete protection. Many
youths who consume media violence will not be obviously influenced by it (e.g., will not rush out
to commit violent crimes), but the psychological processes that can produce the effect operate in
everyone, thereby putting all of us at some risk.
Media Use and Content
Recent surveys depict the abundant presence of electronic media in American homes, as well as
the extensive presence of violence within the media landscape. They also document the expansion
of opportunities for children’s exposure to media violence at home through the proliferation of new
media, including video games, music videos, and the Internet. Current psychological theory
suggests that the interactive nature of many of these new media may lead to more powerful effects
on children’s behavior than are found with more passive media such as TV. However, research to
test this hypothesis is not yet well developed. Although it is apparent from existing data that most
youths are exposed to many hours of violent media each week, the patterns of usage for the newest
media (e.g., video games, Internet) are likely changing so rapidly that estimates of violence
exposure may be out of date by the time they are published. New and more extensive data on
exposure are needed.
Many efforts (e.g., media education, promotion of V-chips) to lessen the effects of media
violence are under way, but almost none have been systematically studied. From a scientific publichealth perspective, this preventive domain is largely uncharted territory. As noted in the Report on
Youth Violence (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001), a powerful body of Media Violence 69 scientifically based knowledge about effective ways to prevent violence in youth is emerging.
Although many of the preventive programs that have been implemented address a complex array of
factors in the life of young people, few have addressed the role of media. The gap between these
areas of research needs to be filled. What is clear is that reducing exposure to media violence will
reduce aggression and violence in both the short term and the long term. What is less clear is what
sorts of interventions will lead to a reduction in exposure, though current evidence suggests that
counterattitudinal interventions and parental interventions are likely to reduce exposure, and
general media-literacy interventions by themselves are unlikely to do so.
Unlike earlier fe...
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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