explanations of media influences on antisocial behaviour: desensitisation

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Media psychology
Explanations of media influences on antisocial behaviour: desensitisation
AO1 (describe)
With regular watching, arousal to violent media tends to decrease and may even
disappear altogether, so that a person may become less likely to have a
physiological reaction each time they watch it. In other words the more a person
sees a violent TV program the more they get used to seeing violence and therefore
do not view it as a wrong thing. For example, a child who watches a violent
programme may begin to feel this behaviour is normal and may be more likely to
engage in violence themselves.
AO2 (evaluation)
Thomas investigated two groups of children who watched a video tape of
young children behaving aggressively. Those children who had previously
seen a TV program containing lots of violence became less physiologically
aroused than those who had watched a program containing no violence. This
shows that there is experimental evidence to show that desensitisation can
occur in young children.
Cumberbatch would argue that people might get used to screen violence, but
that this doesn't mean they will also get used to real world violence. This
means that desensitisation may only explain experimental findings and not
apply to real life. This explanation suggests aggressive behaviour
immediately after watching violent TV, but struggles to explain violence
which occurs sometime after watching. This suggests that the explanation
cannot account for all types of media inspired violence.


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