mediaviolencefactsheet - Copy - Copy (2)

Such habituation or desensitization may well enable

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Unformatted text preview: in their study listened to an audio-taped passage of a rape. For some participants, the passage indicated that the victim was hurt and disgusted, whereas others heard that the victim became sexually aroused by the rape and was not hurt. A subsequent measure indicated that those who heard about negative consequences to the rape victim were less accepting of common rape myths than those who heard about positive consequences to the victim. However, there is some theoretical and empirical support for the opposite view, that explicit portrayal of blood, gore, or other painful consequences might increase aggressiveness on the part of the viewer. Repeated exposure to such negative consequences can lead the viewer to experience less of a negative emotional reaction to future scenes of blood and gore and to pain expressed by victims. Such habituation (or desensitization) may well enable one to consider harming someone without experiencing the negative emotional reactions that normally inhibit aggression. Empirically, viewers who show less negative emotional reactions to viewing violence are more likely to behave aggressively than those who show more negative reactions (Kirwil & Huesmann, 2003; Moise-Titus, 1999). These few studies are not sufficient for firm conclusions. It may be that the short-term effects of Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 54 portraying negative consequences differ from the long-term effects, and there may well be other complicating factors involved. In any case, it is clear that additional research is needed on this question. Social Environment Little research to date has examined how cultural, environmental, and situational variables (e.g., place, presence of co-viewers) moderate the impact of media violence. However, the theories and the data we have already reviewed suggest that such social factors might moderate the effect if they alter the chances that the child will identify with aggressive characters, alter the child's perception of the scene's reality, alter the chances that the child will watch violence, or alter the chances that the child will carry out aggressive behaviors learned from watching the violence. Any of these factors might be influenced by culture, neighborhood environment, or family. Influence of Culture There have been many studies on media violence carried out in countries other than the United States, but few studies have examined the effect of media violence in non-Western cultures. Within Western countries, the empirical results have mostly been similar, but with important exceptions. For example, Huesmann and Eron (1986) reported there was no relation between viewing of TV violence and aggression among Israeli children raised on a kibbutz, but found a moderate to strong relation among Israeli children raised in a suburb. It may be that cultural environments with strong sanctions against violence within the group mitigate the expression of any aggressive behaviors learned from media violence. This could also explain why effects for U.S. females appear to be much stronger among those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s than among those who grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. However, the lack of research in non-Western cultures and other anomalies in the research in Western countries suggest that the full effects of culture and society are not yet well understood. For example, in the preliminary results from a 15-year follow-up among Polish females who experienced the social upheavals of the end of Communism as Media Violence 55 teenagers, Huesmann and Moise-Titus (1999) reported that those girls who were more aggressive as children and watched more violence became less aggressive and more successful young adults than the girls who had been less aggressive and watched less violence. Influence of Neighborhood and SES Low-SES children on average watch more television and television violence than high-SES children (Comstock & Paik, 1991). The SES link to television viewing habits does not account for the overall association between viewing media violence and aggression among youth (Huesmann et al., 2003). Nor is there much evidence that low SES increases or decreases the effect of media violence on behavior. That is, the effect of media violence on aggression appears essentially the same on low- and high-SES children. However, the generally high dose of media violence given to low-SES children is yet another risk factor for adulthood violence in this population. Influence of Parents From a theoretical standpoint, parents have the potential to be important moderators of the effects of media violence on children. Children and adolescents form attitudes and beliefs and take action as a result of their exposure to media content, but they also may discuss what they see with others—especially parents and friends—and their responses may ultimately be shaped by these interpersonal interactions. Singer and Singer (1986a, 1986b) proposed that when parents take an active mediating approach toward television viewing by their children—including commenting regularly and critica...
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