Unit 7 - Violence and Aggression

General Purpose:  To understand the potential effects of media
violence on children and adults.

Unit Outline
I.   Foundations of Violence

     A.   What Is Media Violence:  A Definition - Overt expression
          of physical force or the compelling of action against
          one's will with the threat of force.

     B.   Exposure to Media Violence - since 1960, 80% of all TV
          programs contain violence.

II.  Exploring the Link Between Violence and Aggression

     A.   Bobo Rides Again

          1.   The Set Up - early 60's

          2.   Modeling - Bandura found that people model

     B.   Natural Experiment Revisited - Williams also looked at
          aggression effects.

          1.   The Design - coded acts of physical aggression on

          2.   Observing Physical and Verbal AGG

          3.   Results - no difference in baseline (1973).  When
               Notel acquired cable TV, there was a large increase
               in aggressive behavior. No change in MultiTel

     C.   Field Studies of Juvenile Delinquents

          1.   Media Diet and Aggressive Kids - randomly divided
               institution into 2 groups.  First group observed
               standard media violence; other group observed no
               media violence.  Then brought in trained observers
               to watch kids.

          2.   Outcomes - kids with changed media diet (no
               violence) showed reduction.  Kids with media
               violence showed an increase.

     D.   The Mean World - see page 175

          1.   Cultivation Theory - we have been exposed to media
               violence all our lives.

          2.   Measurement and Outcomes - people who watch a lot
               of TV believe in the "Mean World"

     E.   Is There a Link After All?

          1.   Consider Variety of Studies

          2.   Consider Consistent Direction - as we are exposed
               to media violence, we become more aggressive.

III. Longitudinal Studies (Turner et al., 1986)

     A.   Methods - see page 76

     B.   Logic Behind These Studies - measure TVV-AGG link at different 
            time periods and observe diagonals to see if past TVV predicts future AGG 
            or if past AGG predicts future TVV (the chicken or the egg).

     C.   General Results 

          1.   Found that past TVV predicts future AGG - small effect

          2.   Found that past AGG does not predict future TVV.

     D.   Criminal Behaviors (Huesmann, 1986) - best predictor of
          adult aggression (criminal behavior) is how much violent
          TV they watched as a child.

IV.  Desensitization Studies (Geen, 1983)

     A.   Physiological - how does your body react when exposed to

          1.   Goal and Method

               a.   Exposed people to 2 different forms of media
                    messages.  Some clips were violent and some
                    were not.

               b.   Took place in a lab setting.

          2.   Results - see page 77

          3.   Conclusions - predicts that we get hungrier for
               more graphic violent films.

     B.   Playground Studies (Cognitive Desensitization)

          1.   Participants - third graders were shown a violent
               clip.  One group of 6th grade guards were exposed
               to TV violence, the other group of guards were
               shown a prosocial clip.

          2.   Goal of Study - wanted to demonstrate cognitive

          3.   Design of Study - see page 78

          4.   Results - guards exposed to the violent clip did
               nothing, guards exposed to the prosocial clip

          5.   Conclusions - our exposure to violence not only
               desensitizes us physiologically but it also cognitively as
               we grow to "accept" violence as normal.

V.   Archival Research (Phillips, 1986)

     A.   General Procedure - Phillips studied death records that
          focused on murders and suicides then measured media
          coverage and tried to link the two.  

     B.   Suicide Stories:  The Werther Effect

          1.   New York Times, 1948-1967 (r = .15; Box = 43/57;
               2.5%+) - correlated Times coverage with national
               suicide rate.  If there was lots of coverage then
               there was an increase in the suicide rate.  

          2.   New York Daily News Coverage - see page 79

     C.   Heavyweight Prize Fights and Murder (r = .32; Box =
          34/66; 10.9%+) - looked at the amount of coverage of
          prize fights and the link with murders, found a moderate
          relationship.  Also looked at the race of murder victims
          and tied it back to the heavyweight fight.  For example,
          if a black man lost then there were more black murder

     D.   Executions and Murder

          1.   London Lessons from the Scaffold (1858-1921)
               (36% decrease 2 wks, then 72% increase 3 wks)

          2.   US Executions (1973-1979) - see page 80
               (r = .19; Box = 41/59; 2.8%--) - small effect
VI.  Controversies and Inconsistencies

     A.   A Field Study of Catharsis (Feshbach & Singer, 1971)

          1.   Process of Catharsis Theory 

               Arousal --> Behavior --> Purged

               Predicts More MV --> Less AGG

          2.   Research Study - private boys school (8-18). 
               Randomly assigned one group to no longer watch
               violence on TV, others continued to watch standard
               TV for 1 week.  Brought in trained observers to
               watch for acts of aggression.

          3.   Results - see page 81

          4.   Conclusions about Catharsis

               a.   creative, predicts a different outcome
               b.   never been replicated
               c.   anomalous study

     B.   Failed Longitudinal Study (Milavsky et al., 1982)

          1.   Recall Goals and Design of this Approach - refer to
               page 76

          2.   Results - exposure to violence as a kid led to
               aggression as adult - small effect

          3.   Conclusions - effect was too small to worry about. 

     C.   No-Effects Interpretation (Freedman, 1984, 1986)

          1.   Inconsistent findings - results are inconsistent
               (better, worse, no effect)

          2.   Weak Effects - concludes that if there is any
               effect it is weak.

VII. Paik & Comstock (1996) Summary of TVV and AGG 

     A.   Goal and Methods - found 217 studies looking at TV's
          effect on aggression

     B.   Types of TVV and AGG 

     C.   Results - moderate effect size

          1.   Strongest Messages - portrayals of real people had
               a stronger effect.

          2.   Age and Sex Differences - young more than old; 
               male more than female

VIII.Does Media Violence Cause Aggression?

     A.   Relationship Exists, but What About Direction?

     B.   Limited Counter-Evidence (Few Reverse Effects)

     C.   Theoretical Explanations Exist - modeling theory

IX.  Concluding Remarks

     A.   MV Does Cause AGG

     B.   No MV, No AGG? - no, there are multiple causes of

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Notes prepared by Teresa Jones, Spring, 1996. Page created April 21, 1996; updated on October 6, 1999. Edited by Mike Lowry Copyright © Teresa Jones and Steve Booth-Butterfield, 1996.