Describe And Evaluate Evidence Of The Influence

Of The Media On Aggressive Behaviour Essay, Research Paper

There is evidence that promotes the view that

anti-social behaviour can be promoted by the media. Some of the effects are

short lived and others will vary depending on whether the anti-social behaviour

is shown on it?s own or not. Violent video games and TV are the main sources of

media violence. On TV there is very little aggression

overall. The Gerbner Studies (1970?s and 1980?s) found that in children?s TV

programmes 20 violent acts per hour occurred. Since 1967, the percentage of

violent programmes has not increased but the number of violent acts per

programme has increased. Halloran and Croll (1972) found that violence was a

common feature on TV programmes but not as prevalent on British as it was on

American TV programmes. Cumberbatch (1987) supported this, finding that 30% of

programmes had violence in them but only 1% of TV is violent overall. Gunter

and Harrison (1995) said that violence only occupies a tiny proportion of TV in

few programmes. They found that 1% of terrestrial TV was violent and less that,

2% on satellite TV was violent. Altogether there is not very much violence on

TV but what there is seems to be concentrated to a few programmes which if

young children are exposed to could be damaging to them mentally especially in

later life. The problem with these studies is that what some people

perceive as violent others do not. In younger children a small violent act such

as pushing or shoving can be imitated and interpreted as violent. In a longitudinal study by Lefkowitz et

al. (1972), a preference for TV violence at 8 years of age was found to be

related to aggression at the same age. Older children (17-18 years old) who

preferred violence on TV were not more aggressive. If a preference for TV

violence was found at 8 years old then this was found to be related to violence

at 18 years old, but a preference at 18 for TV violence was not found to be

related to early aggression. This shows that exposing younger children to

violence on TV in earlier life can have long-term as well as short-term effects

on the child. Australian research has shown that there

is no significant correlation between early TV violence viewing and later

aggression. In Poland, the researchers agreed that a greater preference for

violence at an early age was related to later aggression but the effects were

not large and the results should be treated cautiously. A cross-national survey

was carried out by Huesmann and Eron (1987) across six countries (Holland,

Australia, USA, Israel, Poland and Finland) and they found that viewing

television violence at an early age is a predictor of later aggression.

Cumberbatch (1997) criticised this study saying that there was actually no

evidence to support this. The problem with longitudinal studies is that there

could be many other potential intervening variables especially when studying

over a long period. Bandura (1963) showed children aggressive behaviour on a

film. It showed adults in a room hitting a bobo doll. The children who saw the

film were compared with children who hadn?t, the children who watched the film

were found to be more aggressive in their play. This is supported by Liebert

and Baran (1972) who found that children watching an aggressive film

demonstrated a greater willingness to hurt another child. Both of these

laboratory studies show that if children are exposed to aggression in the

media, although this was set up intentionally, they can become more aggressive.

Both of these studies are laboratory studies and the problem with these is that

it is difficult to generalise findings to real life situations. A comparison of two cities was made by Hennigan et al

(1982); one city had TV the other didn?t. The presence or absence of TV did not

affect the crime rate and there was no increase in violent crime when the city

without TV got TV. There was an increase in robberies due to people seeing

affluence on TV and wanting to possess more. Williams (1986) supported this

finding that aggression in children increased when TV was introduced.

Centrewall 91989) compared South Africa, Canada and USA. In USA and Canada the

murder rates increased after TV was introduced. In South Africa the number of

murders declined but only in white people. Therefore these studies show that if

there is no TV in a certain place then the introduction of TV can increase the

crime rate in that place. The problem arises in comparing cities, communities

or countries because there are too many other factors, which could account for

the difference e.g. the cultural differences. There are two explanations of the effects of violent

video games: the social learning theory suggesting that children will imitate

what they have seen on the screen; and the catharsis theory that suggests that

violent video games channel a child?s aggression and stop them from being

aggressive in real life. Observational studies (e.g. Irwin and Gross, 1995)

have found that playing violent video games increases aggression in children in

the short-term at least so supporting the social learning theory?s view.

Griffiths (1998) found that video game violence has more effect on young

children, but far less effect on teenagers and no apparent effects on adults.

There is, on the other hand, very little research into the long-term effects of

violent video games and at the moment, it is entirely speculation of the

effects. The problem with blaming the media for violent behaviour

is that it is rather like explaining it backwards beginning with the media and

using that to explain why offenders offend. Hagell and Newburn (1996) have

found that young offenders watch less TV than their non-offending counterparts

and had little interest in particularly violent programmes in the first place.

Research suggests that children are victims of the media and are drawn in, the

media ?tricks children into all kinds of ill advised behaviour? (Gauntlett,

1998). Research that is more recent has shown that children are able to talk

critically and intelligently about the media (Buckingham, 1996) and that young

children from as young as 7 years old are able to make ?media literate?

productions themselves. On TV, violence is not often shown along with the

negative effects possibly leading children to believe that there aren?t any.

Often in addition, violence goes unpunished showing children that it is alright

to commit violent acts, they won?t be punished for it. From this study called

the National Violence Media Study only 4% of violent programmes showed and anti

violent theme and children?s programmes were the least likely of all to show

the long-term negative consequences of violence. Different people interpret

violent acts in different ways and they can be portrayed in the media for

different reasons. E.g. a man had his house broken into, caught the burglars in

his house and he shot them, was this a justified act of violence? It was highly

publicised because of this. Media violence in studies is restricted to

fictional programmes news programmes are exempt. If violence in fictional

programmes have such adverse effects on people then why don?t they have the

same effects on people when they are shown in the news? The evidence does show that the media does have an

effect on violent behaviour but the difference is very small and as Cumberbatch

said, the results should be treated cautiously. The media does also have

pro-social effects as well as anti-social ones, if the catharsis theory is

correct then it can relieve aggressive feelings and prevent aggression in real

life. The media cannot be completely blamed for aggression; there are other

factors to be considered that could influence the person particularly a child.

Research portrays children as helpless victims of the media?s influence but it

has been shown that children can critically talk about the media at age seven.

The child?s upbringing, background, culture and peers could all influence any

possible aggressive behaviour. The media alone cannot be blamed for all

aggression, other factors have to be taken into account.



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