Media Influences on AntiSocial Behaviour

Unit 4, AQA, A2 psych paper

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Media Influences on AntiSocial Behaviour
Explanations of media influences on antisocial behaviour
1. Observational Learning ­ children observe action, especially if the model is a role model. TV informs
viewers of positive/ negative consequences of violent behaviour. The more real the children perceive the
violent scenes to be the more they identify with the character and the more likely they are to try out the
behaviour learnt.
Paik and Comstock (1994): metaanalysis of media violence research. Examined 217 studies carried out
between 1957 ­ 1990 of link between aggression and media violence. Pps were aged 370. Highly significant rel.
between media violence and aggression. Effect greatest for preschool kids effect for males slightly higher than
Supports theory Longitudinal study, high external/ temporal validity ­ reliable. Suggests there is a link, but
not 100% due to TV.
Bandura (1965): kids saw filmed version of adult being violent towards Bobo doll. Adult was then punished,
rewarded or neither. Rewarded & neither kids behaved more aggressively towards Bobo doll.
Supports theory but doesn't support that media alone is responsible, individ differences etc.
Can't generalise, done on kids. Low external validity due to lab setting.
2. Cognitive Priming ­ activation of existing aggressive feelings/ thoughts. Viewer is primed to respond
aggressively because a network of memories involving aggression is retrieved. Frequent exposure to the
violent scenes may lead kids to store scripts for aggressive behaviour.
Josephson (1987): studied junior icehockey players: deliberately frustrated and then shown a violent or
nonviolent film. In next hockey game, boys behaved more aggressively if seen violent film.
Can't generalise, done on biased sample.
Not very strong evidence, badly designed. Extraneous variables too great individual differences.
3. Desensitisation ­ decrease in sensitivity a failure to be disturbed by violent behaviour. Results from high
levels of exposure to violent images. Watching TV desensitises viewers to actual violence they are less
likely to be restrained from social norms against aggression.
Sacher (1993): considered the role of violent video games 7 studies linked violent video games to aggressive
behaviour, 19 found no link. Studies with link found correlation between video games and aggressive behaviour.
Some support, but not full as 19 found no link.
Correlational, no C&E, so the research isn't great quality.
4. Lower Physiological Arousal ­ boys who are heavy TV watchers show lower than average phys. Arousal
to new scenes of violence. They become used to it and their emotional and physiological responses decline.
As a result, they do not react in the same way to violent behaviour and are less inhibited using it.
Evaluation points for Media Influence
There hasn't been as much research into media influences on prosocial behaviour than antisocial
Most media influence research is done on children, harder to generalise.
Theories contradict themselves as to whether media is the cause for aggression or not.


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