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mediaviolencefactsheet - Copy - Copy (2)

The effect sizes are moderate on the average but vary

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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 10...
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