HUESMANN and MOISE (1996) suggest five ways in which exposure to media violence might lead to aggression.
Explanation 1: OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING
- A01: BANDURA (1986) claims that TV can teach skills that may be used when committing acts of violence
- A02: Supported by... FELSON (1999), who provides research evidence that exposure to TV violence has an effect on viewers through social learning.
- A01: Children Observe actions of media models and may later imitate these actions especially if they identify with the model and the model's anti-social behaviour is rewarded.
- A02: However... Although observational learning from violent films has been demonstrated in the lab, evidence from real-life scenarios is quite rare and claims are often unsubstantiated.
Explanation 2: COGNITIVE PRIMING
- A01: Aggressive media may trigger a network of memories involving aggression and so predispose the viewer to act in an aggressive manner.
- A02: Supported by... JOSEPHSON (1987) who found evidence of cognitive priming among ice hockey players following exposure to a violent film.
- A01: Children may store aggressive scripts that they recall later if any aspect of the original situation is present.
- A02: This might explain... why the observation of aggression is often followed by aggressive acts that differ from the observed behaviour (HUESMANN, 2001)
Explanation 3: DESENSITISATION
- A01: Under normal conditions anxiety about aggression inhibits its use. Frequent viewing of media violence desensitises viewers to its effects and represents violence as 'normal'.
- A02: However: CUMBERBATCH (2001) argues that although children may get 'used' to screen violence, it does not follow that they would also get used to violence in the real world.
Explanation 4: PHYSIOLOGICAL AROUSAL
- A01: Frequent viewing of media violence leads to less physiological arousal as a result of viewing violent behaviour and thus fewer inhibitions concerning its use.
- A02: Supported by... CLINE et al. (1973) who found that boys who regularly watched violent TV showed less physiological arousal to violence.
- A02: Alternative effects such as... watching violence may increase aggressiveness (Zillman's excitation transfer model, 1988) or release pent-up energy (catharsis) and therefore decrease it.
Explanation 5: JUSTIFICATION
- A01: Under normal circumstances, aggressive behaviour should lead to feelings of guilt.
- A02: supported by... ANDERSON and DILL's (2000) study which showed that people who were initially more aggressive were more affected (i.e. became more aggressive) by playing violent computer games.
- A01: Television may provide a justification for an individual's violent behaviour. As a result, guilt and concern about consequences of violence diminish, as do inhibitions about future aggression.
- A02: This means that.... the negative effects of mixed pro- and anti-social messages might be explained in terms of the 'good guys' having moral justification for their violence.