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Explanations of media influences on antisocial behaviour: cognitive priming
Cognitive priming is when we have a schema which develops in our mind and is
formed from the environment around us. At some point a stimulus may trigger the
activation of this schema and that will alter our behaviour. Therefore if someone
watches lots of violent TV, then they develop a schema that relates to violence,
and this can be triggered to make a person more violent in thei behaviour.
Huesmann argued that once a child has learned a script, the script is used to
define situations and to guide how to behave if similar situations arise.
There are cues in films which frequently evoke the feelings of aggression.
For example, if you are watching a film you will remember parts of that
film. The film will tell us how to act in certain situations. In the future, we
may see something that reminds us of the film and so our behaviour is
determined by the film we saw.
Josephson investigated hockey players who were deliberately frustrated
and shown violent or non violent films where an actor held a walkie talkie.
In a subsequent hockey game, players behaved more aggressively if they
had seen the violent film and the referee, holding the walkie talkie, in their
game. The walkie talkie acted as a cue for aggression.
Recent advance in brain imaging have supported the idea that scripts are
stored in long term memory. Murray compared MRI scans of 8 children who
watched both violent and non violent TV programmes. It was found that a
network of the right hemisphere regions was activated. These included
amygdale, regions which regulate emotion, arousal and attention. in addition
areas of the brain responsible for storing episodic memories were active,
suggesting that aggressive acts viewed may be stored as aggressive scripts
for later use.