This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: ardless of the reason for it,
can energize or strengthen whatever an individual's dominant action tendency happens to be at the
time. Thus, if a person is provoked or otherwise instigated to aggress at the time increased arousal
occurs, heightened aggression can result (e.g., Geen & O'Neal, 1969). Second, if a person who is
aroused misattributes his or her arousal to a provocation by someone else, the propensity to behave
aggressively in response to that annoyance is increased (e.g., Zillmann, 1971, 1982). Thus, people
tend to react more violently to provocations immediately after watching exciting movies than they
do at other times. This kind of effect is usually short-lived, perhaps lasting only minutes.
Such arousal-transfer effects can occur with any kind of exciting activity, not just exciting
movies, TV shows, music videos, or video games. For this reason, the arousal properties of violent
media have not drawn as much attention as their other consequences. Nonetheless, it bears noting Media Violence 45 that frequent episodes in which exposure to violent media is followed by frustrating or provoking
events could well lead to an increase in the viewers’ aggressive social encounters, which in turn can
affect their self-images and the aggressiveness of their social environment. Indeed, recent research
shows that playing a violent video game for as little as 10 min increases the player’s automatic
association of “self” with aggressive actions and traits (Uhlmann & Swanson, in press). In the same
study, the researchers also found that past history of exposure to violent video games was positively
associated with aggressive views of the self.
The term “desensitization” has been employed in so many different ways that the exact
meaning of any particular usage can be quite unclear. We specifically use the label emotional
desensitization to refer to a reduction in distress-related physiological reactivity to observations or
thoughts of violence (Carnagey, Bushman, & Anderson, 2003). In the present context, emotional
desensitization occurs when people who watch a lot of media violence no longer respond with as
much unpleasant physiological arousal as they did initially. Because the unpleasant physiological
arousal (or negative emotional reactions) normally associated with violence has an inhibitory
influence on thinking about violence, condoning violence, or behaving violently, emotional
desensitization (i.e., the diminution of the unpleasant arousal) can result in a heightened likelihood
of violent thoughts and behaviors (Huesmann et al., 2003).
Habituation of neurophysiological responses over time is a well-established psychological
phenomenon (though some responses resist habituation); repeated presentation of the same
stimulus usually results in smaller and smaller neurophysiological responses to that stimulus.
Similarly, systematic desensitization procedures are highly successful in the treatment of phobias
(e.g., Bandura & Adams, 1977; Wolpe, 1958, 1982) and other anxiety or fear disorders (e.g.,
Pantalon & Motta, 1998). For example, systematically exposing someone with a snake phobia to
snakes (initially under conditions designed to minimize anxiety and later under more anxiety- Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 46 producing conditions) reduces the original anxiety reactions to such an extent that the person is no
longer snake phobic. One feature of modern systematic desensitization treatments is to have the
phobic person observe other people (live or filmed) successfully interacting with the feared
stimulus (Bandura, Grusec, & Menlove, 1967; Bandura & Menlove, 1968).
Similarly, violent scenes do become less unpleasantly arousing over time (see Cline, Croft, &
Courrier, 1973), and more aggressive (relative to less aggressive) college students do tend to show
decreased arousal to repeated scenes of violence (Titus, 1999). Research has shown that even
relatively brief exposure to media violence can reduce physiological reactions to the sight of realworld violence (Carnagey et al., 2003, Thomas, Horton, Lippincott, & Drabman, 1977) and can
decrease helpful behavior toward victims of aggression (Carnagey et al., 2003; Drabman &
Thomas, 1974, 1975; Thomas & Drabman, 1975). However, it still has to be established whether or
not such decreased arousal in response to violent scenes stimulates violent behavior, and it is
therefore uncertain how big a role emotional desensitization plays in the long-term cumulative
effects of media violence on the instigation of aggression. Unfortunately, there have been few
attempts to date to test this hypothesis directly. RESEARCH ON MODERATOR EFFECTS
Although the psychological processes through which media violence operates are present in
every child, children are not affected equally by media violence. Some studies indicate that
different children are affected differently by media violence. Similarly, not all p...
View Full Document
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