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Unformatted text preview: ll ages. The evidence from these
experiments is compelling. Brief exposure to violent dramatic presentations on TV or in films
causes short-term increases in youths' aggressive thoughts, emotions, and behavior, including
physically aggressive behavior serious enough to harm others. The effect sizes are moderate on the
average but vary greatly depending on the outcome measure used; usually, effect sizes are smaller
for more serious outcomes than for less serious outcomes. There is some evidence that youth who
are predisposed to be aggressive or who recently have been aroused or provoked are somewhat
more susceptible to these effects than other youngsters are, but there is no evidence of any totally
immune group. The average effect sizes, even for relatively serious physical aggression, are large
enough to warrant social concern.
Cross-Sectional Surveys: Examples
Cross-sectional surveys over the past 40 years have consistently provided evidence that the
current physical aggression, verbal aggression, and aggressive thoughts of young people are
correlated with the amount of television and film violence they regularly watch (see reviews by Media Violence 23 Chaffee, 1972; Comstock, 1980; Eysenck & Nias, 1978; Huesmann & Miller, 1994). Moreover, the
studies reporting significant correlations have used a variety of research methods and examined
youngsters of different ages and from different cultures (e.g., Huesmann & Eron, 1986). In some
studies, the aggression assessed has included physically aggressive acts serious enough to fit our
definition of violence. For example, McLeod, Atkin, and Chaffee (1972) studied the correlations
between "aggressive behavioral delinquency" (fighting, hitting, etc.) and TV violence viewing in
samples of Wisconsin and Maryland high school and junior high school students. They found
significant correlations ranging from .17 (p < .05) to .28 (p < .01) for both males and females. In a
study of English 12-17 year old males Belson (1978) reported 49% more violent acts in the past 6
months by heavy TV violence viewers than by light violence viewers.
The cross-sectional correlations have generally been in the small to moderate range. On the
average they have been slightly higher for elementary-school children than for teenagers and adults,
particularly when general aggression is assessed. For example, Eron, Huesmann, Lefkowitz, and
Walder (1972) obtained a significant correlation of .21 for 8-year-old boys and a nonsignificant
correlation for the same boys when they were 19. Similarly, Huesmann, Moise-Titus, Podolski, &
Eron (2003) reported a correlation of .18 (p < .05) between TV violence viewing and general
aggression for 6 to 10 year old males, but a non-significant correlation between general aggression
and concurrent TV violence viewing for the same males when they were in their twenties. For
females in their twenties, however, they reported a significant correlation (r = .23, p < .01). Other
studies also have found significant correlations at older ages.
Cross-Sectional Surveys: Meta-Analysis and Summary
Paik and Comstock's (1994) meta-analysis examined cross-sectional surveys published between
1957 and 1990. For 410 tests of the hypothesis that viewing television violence is positively
correlated with aggressive behavior, they reported an average r of .19. Perhaps more important for
the current review, these authors identified 200 tests of the hypothesis in which the dependent Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 24 measure of aggressive behavior was actual physical aggression against another person. The effect
size was essentially the same for these studies as for all surveys combined (i.e., r = .20).
These cross-sectional surveys provide convincing evidence that frequent viewing of violence in
the media is associated with comparatively high levels of aggressive behavior. The surveys also
support the causal conclusions of the experimental studies, and suggest that findings of short-term
effects in the laboratory may well be generalizable to longer-term effects on real world aggression.
However, these cross-sectional surveys alone do not indicate whether media violence causes
aggression, whether aggressive youth are attracted to media violence, or whether some other factor
predisposes the same youth to both watch more violence and behave more aggressively than their
peers. Longitudinal surveys investigating the subsequent effects of exposure to media violence at
an early age provide better evidence regarding these possibilities.
Longitudinal Surveys: Examples
A small group of studies have examined the effects of television violence on aggressive
behavior over time. Four of the key studies are discussed here. In a study of a representative sample
of 856 youth in Columbia County, New York, beginning in 1960, Eron and his colleagues found
that a boy's exposure to media violence at age 8 was significantly related to his aggressive behavior
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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
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