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they had watched a film of a prizefight than after they had seen a movie of a track meet. The effect
size was quite large (r =.75) and seemed to be accentuated by the viewers' noise-generated
excitement. This study has been replicated with variations of film content and provocation with
essentially identical results (see Berkowitz, 1993).
Finally, Donnerstein and Berkowitz's (1981) study demonstrated that combining violent
portrayals with sexual stimulation is particularly potent at stimulating male viewers to be more
physically assaultive toward females who have provoked them. In this experiment, male university
students watched either a movie portraying sex and violence, a nonviolent sex film, or a movie that
was neither sexual nor violent and were then given an opportunity to retaliate against a woman who
had angered them earlier, by giving her electric shocks. The men who had viewed the violent sex
film punished the woman more intensely than did their counterparts who had watched either the
neutral film or the nonviolent sex movie. Again, the effect size was quite large (r = .71).
The six key experiments we have just reviewed all examined the immediate causal effect of
media violence on physical aggression. A great many studies have also examined the immediate
effect of media violence on aggressive thoughts or emotions (for reviews, see Berkowitz, 1993;
Bushman & Huesmann, 2001; Geen, 2001; Rule & Ferguson, 1986). These studies are important to
consider because research has shown that the risk of physically aggressive behavior against other
people is increased among youth who believe that violence against others is acceptable (Huesmann Media Violence 21 & Guerra, 1997), in part because they believe that their targets are “bad” people and that punishing
them is justified (e.g., Berkowitz, 1965; Berkowitz & Geen, 1967). Similarly, people who accept
violence toward females (Byers & Eno, 1991; Lackie & de- Man, 1997), who view others as being
hostile (Dodge & Frame, 1982), who believe that retaliation is "honorable" (Nisbett & Cohen,
1996), who fantasize about violence (Rosenfeld, Huesmann, Eron, & Torney-Purta, 1982), or who
just simply think about violent words (Carver, Ganellen, Froming, & Chambers, 1983) also are at
high risk for physical aggression against others.
Typically, randomized experiments reveal that exposure to media violence can cause immediate
increases in aggressive thoughts and tolerance for aggression in both children and older youth. For
example, in studies with young children (Drabman & Thomas, 1974, 1975; Thomas & Drabman,
1975), youngsters shown a brief violent film clip were slower to call an adult to intervene when
they saw two younger children fighting than were peers who had watched a neutral film. The single
violent clip appeared to make the children more tolerant of aggression, at least temporarily.
Similarly, Malamuth and Check (1981) found an increased acceptance of physical aggression
toward women by college men several days after they had watched violent sex scenes. Still other
studies have shown that college students randomly assigned to view a short violent film segment
display more aggressive thoughts (e.g., Bushman, 1998) or more aggressive emotions (e.g.,
Anderson, 1997) than comparable students who are assigned to view a nonviolent film segment.
Using a somewhat longer time frame, Zillmann and Weaver (1999) reported an experiment in
which college-age males and females viewed either four violent or four nonviolent feature films on
consecutive days. One day after viewing the last film, all participants took part in a supposedly
unrelated study in which level of hostile behavior was assessed. Those who previously had seen the
violent films exhibited significantly more hostility than did those who previously had seen the
Randomized Experiments: Meta-Analysis and Summary Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 22 Three meta-analyses in the past 15 years have computed the overall effect sizes for randomized
experiments investigating the influence of TV and movie violence on aggression (Hearold, 1986;
Paik & Comstock, 1994; Wood, Wong, & Chachere, 1991). The most recent and comprehensive of
these was the analysis of Paik and Comstock, who examined effect sizes from 217 studies
published between 1957 and 1990. On the basis of 432 independent tests of effects in the
randomized experiments they reviewed, Paik and Comstock found a moderate to large average
effect size (r =.38). When the analysis was limited to experiments in which the outcome was
classified as physical violence against a person, the 71 independent effect sizes yielded an average r
of .32. The studies in the review reported 32 independent effect sizes for criminal violence against a
person; among this group, the average effect size was smaller but still significant, r = .13.
In summary, many well-controlled, randomized experiments have examined how exposure to
violent TV and film media affects aggression in youths of a...
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