Violent Video Games and Other Media Violence (Part I) by ProQuest


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									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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