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Unformatted text preview: r less aggressive peers, but the evidence is stronger that seeing a lot of
media violence is a precursor of increased aggression even when social class, intellectual
functioning, prior level of aggressiveness, and parenting are statistically controlled. Furthermore, Media Violence 29 the most recent studies suggest that this increased aggression in young adulthood includes very
serious forms of aggression and violence.
Studies on the Introduction of TV
Television was not introduced in all communities at the same time. A few researchers have
taken advantage of this variation in timing to examine TV's effects on aggression within a society
(Joy, Kimball, & Zabrack, 1985). For example, Centerwall (1989a, 1989b, 1992) carried out timeseries analyses using aggregated data on crime and media viewing to examine the effect of the
introduction of TV on violence in the United States, Canada, and South Africa (where television
came on the scene only recently), comparing crime rates before and after the introduction of
television. He concluded that the introduction of television, combined with frequent portrayal of
violent acts, increases interpersonal violence in a society. However, this analysis must be viewed
with caution because of other factors that might have influenced national crime rates at the same
For methodological reasons, more convincing evidence is provided by Williams (1986), who
found an increase in the level of children's aggression in one Canadian community after TV was
introduced to it, although two comparable communities (without TV) showed no such increase.
Even in this case, though, caution must be exercised in drawing any conclusions, because Williams
assessed the total amount of TV viewing, not the amount of media violence to which the children
were being exposed. Finally, Hennigan et al. (1982) reported that rates of larceny went up more in
American cities in which TV was introduced than in comparable American cities in which TV was
not yet available. Again, caution is required in interpreting these results, because there is no way to
know what aspect of TV might be responsible (e.g., rising consumer desires promoted by
commercials might lead to increases in stealing). In summary, the investigations of the relatively
immediate aftereffects of the introduction of television do not contradict the conclusion, drawn
from the other types of studies, that TV violence stimulates aggression in young viewers, but these Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 30 investigations do not provide much corroborative support either.
Studies on Television News Violence
Does seeing violence in news coverage encourage imitative, or “copycat,” behavior? There are
many anecdotal reports of people imitating fictional violence. For example, it has been claimed that
the movie Taxi Driver led directly to John Hinckley's attack on President Reagan. Despite the
frequency of these presumed instances of a “contagion of violence,” however, there has been
relatively little research examining how news stories of aggressive events affect behavior. Most
such investigations have been time-series field studies that have compared data on a community's
violence rate before and after some highly publicized news of a violent occurrence. On the whole,
these studies support the notion of a contagion effect, with some of the best evidence indicating that
stories of a well-known person’s suicide increase the likelihood that other people will also take
their own lives (Phillips, 1979, 1982; Simon, 1979; Stack, 1989). Other investigations indicate
there might also be a contagion of criminal violence. For example, a study by Berkowitz and
Macaulay (1971) showed that there was a jump in the number of violent crimes, but not property
crimes, after several high-profile murder cases in the early and mid-1960s, including the
assassination of President Kennedy. However, some of the research in this area has been
questioned, and the results are subject to various interpretations. For example, Phillips’s (1983)
frequently cited finding of increases in violent crimes following televised prizefight has not been
widely accepted by researchers because of methodological challenges (Baron & Reiss, 1985; see
Phillips & Bollen, 1985, for a response) and the difficulties in explaining the specific pattern of
results (e.g., increases only exactly 3 days after the event).
Studies of Music Videos and Music Lyrics
Music videos are also of concern because these videos are sometimes replete with violence.
Even those that do not have explicit aggressive content often have antisocial overtones (Baxter, De
Riemer, Landini, Leslie, & Singletary, 1985; Caplan, 1985; Rich, Woods, Goodman, Emans, & Media Violence 31 DuRant, 1998), and music videos are widely watched by adolescents.
No experimental studies to date have examined how exposure to music videos affects youths’
physically aggressive behavior. However, Waite, Hillbrand, and Foster (1992) observed a
significant decrease in aggressive behavior on a forensic inpatient ward after removal of Music
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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