Media violence involves different kinds of mass communication that are related to using force and its consequences.
Researchers studying aggression and violence note the important role of the media in spreading these forms of behavior. This process refers to the legitimization of violence and the influence of the violence shown by the media on the level of aggressiveness among consumers, including children and youth. Hence, the media lead to emergence and spread of aggression in society.
Numerous studies of aggressive behavior were conducted by the Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura within the framework of socio-cognitive theories. His approach assumes that modeling influences “learning” mainly through acquiring symbolic images of a simulated activity, which is a prototype for appropriate or inappropriate behavior (Bandura, 1999). In his interpretation of the phenomenon of observational learning, Bandura proceeds from the assumption that people adopt aggressive behavior from family, communities/subcultures, and mass media (1983).
American psychologist George Gerbner from the University of Pennsylvania has studied the television broadcasting network of the United States since 1967. He has discovered that two out of every three television programs contain acts of violence defined by the author as acts of physical coercion which are followed by killing or beating (Gerbner, 2002). Thus, by the time the secondary school is over, the child has seen on TV about 8 thousand scenes with murders and 100 thousand other violent acts. In his work, he stresses the number of violent acts on television, which form in particular in children mental disorders
Ronald Drabman and Margaret Thomas’ article discusses the subjects who have registered (by skin-galvanic reaction) a change in their emotional state while watching a video or a television program with elements of violence or an exciting volleyball championship. The research shows that both records equally cause emotional upsurge. During the second stage of the study, the subjects became observers of the real situation, which looked like an apparent confrontation implying a threat of physical violence for its participants (Thomas & Drabman, 2003). Based on the observers’ less emotional reaction, it has become clear that watching television programs that demonstrate force made these subjects less susceptible to instances of violence in “real” life.
The research article “The Effects of Viewing Physical and Relational Aggression in the Media: Evidence” (Coyne et al., 2008) shows that watching on TV one’s aggressive actions is directly related to the growth of aggressive behavior in society. Eliminating or at least minimizing the amount of aggressively-minded information in the media, society can save itself from many negative life factors.
Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A social learning analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bandura, A. (1983). Psychological mechanisms of aggression. In R. G. Geen & E. Donnerstein (Eds.), Aggression: Theoretical and empirical reviews (pp. 1-40). New York, NY: Academic Press. Retrieved from http://www.policyscience.net/ws/bandura.pdf.
Coyne, S., Nelson, D., Lawton, F., Haslam, S., Rooney, L., & Titterington, L., Ogunlaja, L. (2008). The effects of viewing physical and relational aggression in the media: Evidence for a cross-over effect. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(6), 1551-1554. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2008.06.006
Gerbner, G. (2002). Communication and social environment. Scientific American, 227(3), 152-160. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0972-152
Thomas, M., & Drabman, R. (2003). Effects of television violence on expectations of other’s aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4(1), 73-76. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/014616727800400115.