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Media depictions of violence can prompt aggressive behavior - Essay Example

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The overt expression of physical force (with or without a weapon) against self or other, compelling action against one's will on pain of being hurt or killed, or actually hurting or killing" (Gerbner and Gross, 1976).
Although this helps to clarify the meaning of the term, there are various caveats that need to be borne in mind…
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Media depictions of violence can prompt aggressive behavior
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Download file to see previous pages Second, violence should not always be viewed as a single category whose meaning can be taken for granted because the context in which 'violence' is portrayed may influence the viewers' interpretation of what constitutes a violent act. In this respect, non-fictional violence is nearly always rated as more violent and disturbing than fictional portrayals.
The public's common sense opinion of the relationship between violence and the media is to view the link or correlation as direct and uncontroversial. This is based on the notion that, as television has become more widespread and the number of violence programmes have increased, there has been a corresponding rise in levels of violence in society at large. While it is true that television ownership has expanded enormously, most homes in the U.S.A. have at least one, the amount of television violence may have actually stayed the same or decreased in proportion to the rising levels of violent crime in society (Cumberbatch 1987). The link may therefore not be as obvious as it at first appears.
In fact, many studies on the issue seemed to bear out the common sense view. In 1972, Surgeon General's Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behaviour concluded that there was a strong association between exposure to television violence and social behavior in children and adolescents. Ten years later, in 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health came up with similar findings. Similarly, in 1992 the American Psychological Association took a ten year look at the question and emphasized the fact that television violence did have a role to play in determining aggressive attitudes over time and across demographic groups (Levine and Rosich 1996). A review of laboratory and field studies, including longitudinal research, came to one overarching finding 'The mass media are significant contributors to the aggressive behavior and aggression-related attitudes of many children, adolescents and adults'. (Donnerstein et al 1994). Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences Violence Panel, based on a review of 188 studies and 1,126 comparisons between 1957 and 1990, underline the fact that the effects of television on violence are quite significant (Comstock and Paik 1990). Most of these studies have concentrated on television simply due to the fact that it is so widespread and accessible when compared to most other forms of communication.
Qualifications as to the Findings of Early Surveys
Given such wide-ranging in-depth studies of the subject, it seemed that the issue was closed to any further debate. This picture however may not be so clear cut. Caution has been advised by some investigators who emphasize that the effects of television violence may not be the same for all individuals precisely because some people are more prone to the effects of seeing violence than others (Donnerstein et al 1994). The consensus that the media can lead to aggressive behavi ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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