Effects Of Media On Agression Essay Research

Effects Of Media On Agression Essay, Research Paper

The Effects of the Media on Child Aggression Jasper Mills

According to our textbook Child Development written by Laura E. Burk child aggression is a normal and expected act consisting of things like threats, physical force, and bargaining without asking, this usually beginning in late infancy and peaks around preschool age and later. And the more a child interacts with another the greater chance that the child will express aggression in his or her behavior. Some forms of aggression tend to decline as the subject increases in age. As these children age these aggressive outbursts are seen as teaching opportunities for parents to use inductive reasoning so that children could learn the right way to express themselves and to solve certain disputes that they may encounter throughout their lifetime. The first six months of a child s life they not only begin to develop motor skills, but also begin to develop the mental ability needed in order to recognize traces of frustration and anger.

Burk in her writings describes four different types of aggression. Instrumental aggression is seen as being overt antisocial behavior expressed over a particular territory such as an object (a toy), or a space (children fighting over one be in the others room). This type of aggression declines as age increases and is meant to intimidate what is seen as the aggressor s adversary over such territory. This differing from hostile aggression which is described by Burk as clearly an aggressive act intended to blatantly hurt or harm another person and is the opposite of its counterpart in that it increases with age. From hostile aggression stems overt aggression, defined as harming others through acts of physical violence, beating up or threatening to beat up another person, most commonly found in male children. Another type of aggression, which stems from hostile aggression but on the other hand is more commonly found in female children, is relational aggression. Relational aggression is defined as being a type of aggression, which challenges ones social relations with others, such as gossip or even social neglect of that person.

Heath ET el. in her article, Effects of Media Violence on Children attempt to explain to the reader her theory that certain television programs induce aggression in children. In her quasilongitudinal study examined convicted criminals versus suburban men who grew up in the same neighborhood. Subjects were supplied with T.V Guide summary sheets and asked to list the television show that they most frequently watched between the ages of 8 and 12 years. Heath measured her results in three separate categories, the witnessing of physical abuse by the father, physical abuse by the mother, and exposure to violence on television. Those who witnessed two out of three of these categories were most likely to have been convicted of a violent crime.

Heath suggested that the witnessing and memorization of violence in the home may alter and enhanced the way one memorized certain television images. Heath also claims that the media depicts to us our fears about particular people and places in our society. For example, because the news depicts Hamilton Hill as being a very dangerous place, many people are now afraid to even drive through this area. Heath also suggests that children who have witnessed violence in the home versus those who have not may interpret violent media messages on different television stations. For example, while children who were raised in nonviolent homes may view media violence through fictional programs such as cartoons or horror movies. Children who have experienced violence in their home may interpret violence through more nonfiction or real life programs such as the news or some kind of documentary. In instances where a child s real life home situations imitated those, which they viewed on television, the probability of that boy or girl expressing child aggression was much higher.

A study conducted by Jonathan L.Freedman entitled Television Violence and Aggression: A Rejoinder has mixed reviews on the hypothesis that the viewing of television violence causes later aggression in children. However, he claims that studies conducted thus far of this hypothesis have in his opinion no reliability claiming that only a vast number of studies have observed the actual aggression, which is being predicted. Freedman suggested that you use (as in the study conducted by (Friedrich & Stein 1973) two groups, a group consistently watching high levels of television violence projected to steadily increase in aggression versus those watching a neutral amount of television violence projecting aggressiveness to steadily decrease. Freedman concludes that no definite solution could be given as a result of the evidence showing traces of favor to both sides of the argument.

My operational definition of the term aggression is any verbal or physical expression either prosocial or antisocial used to either harm or cause a reaction out of another. The hypothesis of this study is that child aggression is invoked if not equally than more so through child animation films as it is are in live action movies geared toward the younger audience. Through this study I intend to prove this hypothesis through a systematic rating system of both these types of films. This topic is important because if proven it is a revolutionary prediction of child behavior. If parents knew the negative effects that television could have on children s behavior then they could perhaps use the power of the media to their advantage, to promote positivity in the media to their children therefor simultaneously promoting success of these children in both their academic and moral lives. For parents to monitor more closely what their child takes in from television and have more of a part in raising your child and guaranteeing life success.



My group consisted of four students including myself, the other three being Nathan, Lee and Roberto. We first met as a group to come up with our operational definition of aggression which is a verbal or physical expression of emotions both prosocial and antisocial behavior used to harm or intimidate another. (Nat, Lee and I first met, Roberto was later added to our group) The subjects in our study are the characters in the movies that were viewed.


Materials, which were used to complete this study, consisted of a television and either a VCR or a DVD player. At least ten videos geared toward the interest of children five of which are cartoon animated and the other five are live action film, none with a rating higher than PG (Parental Guidance). The films used in this study included live action movies Superman parts one and three, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Man of the House, E.T and Ghostbusters. Cartoon animated movies involved in this study consisted of The Emperor s New Groove, Pinocchio, Pocahontas, Mr. Toad s Wild Ride, The Aristocats and The Nightmare Before Christmas. A membership card to the local video rental store may be needed for the completion of this study.


Nat, Lee and I first met (Roberto was later added to our group) in order to operationally define aggression, which we concluded was any verbal or physical expression of emotion both prosocial and antisocial behavior used to harm or intimidate another subject. We then watched our first film as a group (Superman) and afterward compared our separate ratings and mathematically calculated our percent agreement. In ratings these different films we broke aggression down into four separate categories verbal abuse, intimidation, killing and fighting.

Verbal abuse would be any type of harsh language, strong reprimanding or insulting from one subject to another. Intimidation consists of any physical violence, coercion or threat to violence from one subject on another. This would involve such activities as individual instances of punching, throwing or even destructive behavior such as physical harm caused to a particular object or the environment with intentions of inciting an act of physical violence. Our category of killing involves any fatalities, of both humans and animals. Fighting consists of any type of drawn out scene where a series of physical or verbal violence is performed, while the other categories were recorded by individual incidents, fighting was recorded by each individual scene.

The percent agreement is the percent to which our group agreed with similar ratings of a particular film. Percent agreement is mathematically defined as the total number of the group s agreements divided by the total number of agreements plus the total number of disagreements (disagreements being simply the number that is left over after the scores are matched).

We then separated in order to view individual films on our own time, however prior to that we delegated tasks so that the same number of cartoon animated and live action films were viewed. After the films were viewed we then met in order to share and compare the films viewed as well as our individual ratings of those films. Before meeting we stayed in contact through both email and telephone so that the same film was not viewed twice. After this meeting we then separated in order to write our individual lab reports.

Results: Amounts of aggression in live action films verses cartoon animation

Table 1: Live Action Films

Categories of Aggression

Verbal/ Intimidation/ Killing/ Fighting Superman I 5 22 7 11 Superman III 4 3 0 4 Ghostbusters 1 5 0 13 E.T 6 7 0 4 Man of the House 1 5 0 2 Tom & Huck 8 10 3 7 Films totals: 25 52 10 41= 128

Table 2: Cartoon Animation Films

Categories of Aggression

Verbal/ Intimidation/ Killing/ Fighting

Pinocchio 2 3 0 5

Pocahontas 4 8 1 7

Toads Wild Ride 1 5 1 4

Aristocats 3 5 0 5

Mulan 12 5 5 15

Nightmare 10 3 0 26

Before Xmas

Films totals: 22 29 7 62

= 120

*Percent agreement after watching Superman I was 93%

As you can see the amount of aggression in live action movies versus cartoon animation is very similar in number, with cartoon animation films dominating in the number of fighting scenes it consists of in contrast to it live action counterparts. It is the results in these tables that support our hypothesis that cartoon animation films invoke if not as much than more child aggression than do live action movies geared toward children s interest. The tables show that in total there are only eight more incidents in the six live action movies seen than in the same number of cartoon animation films. The results show that while live action movies tend to show more individual incidents of physical aggression or destructive behavior, cartoon animation films tend to include more drawn out and put together scenes of physical or verbal aggression.


Last year a young boy approximately nine years of age killed his younger sister. He claims that he was imitating a wrestling move that he witnessed on television by repeatedly bodyslamming her until he ended her life. Aggression in the media is no longer the exception but it is now an expectation, through shows like Monday Night Raw (wrestling), Jerry Springer , etc. The bottom line is that aggression just like sex in our society sells. The media is not the only cause of child aggression, but when combined with an abstract imagination or a violent household the possibility of child aggression is a big one. Children through the influence of these aspects of life learn that aggression is the right way to solve their future problems in life, this will affect future relationships throughout the rest of their lives.


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