[...] it creates more positive attitudes, beliefs, and expectations regarding aggressive solutions to interpersonal problems. [...] repetition increases learning of any type of skill or way of thinking, to the point where that skill or way of thinking becomes fairly automatic. [...] extreme aggression, such as aggravated assault and homicide, typically occurs only when there are a number of risk factors present.
Violent Video Games and Other Media Violence (Part I) By Craig A. Anderson, PhD (This article appears in two parts. time. This relation between media if the situational context is suf- This issue contains Part I and the violence and aggressive behavior ficiently similar. March/April issue will contain Part is causal. II.) How Media Violence Early aggression researchers were Increases Aggression For my 2003 article on The Influ- interested in discovering how youth Repeated consumption of media ence of Media Violence on Youth, learn to be aggressive. Once they violence over time increases ag- a group of media scholars and I, discovered observational learning gression across a range to situa- selected by the National Institute of takes place not only when youth tions and across time because of Mental Health, reviewed 50 years see how people behave in the real several related factors. First, it of research on media violence and world but also when they see char- creates more positive attitudes, aggression. acters in films and on television, beliefs, and expectations regarding many began to focus on exactly aggressive solutions to interper- Early Research how watching such violent stories sonal problems. In other words, Most of the early research focused increases later aggression. In other youth come to believe that aggres- on two questions: words, more recent research really sion is normal, appropriate, and 1) Is there a significant association focused on the underlying psycho- likely to succeed. between exposure to media logical mechanisms. violence and aggressive behav- It also leads to the development ior?, and Current Research of aggressive scripts, which are 2) Is this association causal? (That In the last 10 years there has been basically ways of thinking about is, can we say that violent a huge increase in research on how the social world works. Heavy television, video games, and violent video games. Based on five media violence consumers tend to other media are directly caus- decades of research on television view the world in a more hostile ing aggressive behavior in our and film violence and one decade fashion. Additionally, it decreases kids?) of research on video games, we the cognitive accessibility of nonvi- now have a pretty clear picture of olent ways to handle conflict. That The results, overall, have been fair- how exposure to media violence is, it becomes harder to even think ly consistent across types of stud- can increase aggression in both about nonviolent solutions. ies (experimental, cross-sectional, the immediate situation as well as and longitudinal) and across visual in long-term contexts. Media violence also produces an media type (television, films, video emotional desensitization to ag- Immediately after consuming some games). There is a significant rela- gression and violence. Normally, media violence, there is an increase tion between exposure to media people have a pretty negative in aggressive behavior tendencies violence and aggressive behavior. emotional reaction to conflict, ag- because of several factors: gression, and violence, and this Exposing children and adolescents 1) Aggressive thoughts increase, can be seen in their physiological (or “youth”) to violent visual media which in turn increase the likeli- reactions to observation of violence increases the likelihood that they hood that a mild or ambiguous (real or fictional, as in entertain- will engage in physical aggression provocation will be interpreted ment media). For example, viewing against another person. By “physi- in a hostile fashion physical violence normally leads to cal aggression” we mean behavior 2) Aggressive (or hostile) emotion
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