Media influences on aggression

Effects of computer games

Primary concerns - exposure to violence games may have desensitisation effect, people playing games may receive positive reinforcement from using violence. Worry may reinforce violent behaviour IRL.

Potential for exposure affectin moral judgement of thos eplaying the games. May not see as inappropriate/wrong to use violence. Argument that playing computer games beneficial as may provide outlet for anger + relieve stress - catharsis - psychodynamic term for purging of strong emotion. 

1 of 13

Main study - TV + aggression

Pinto da Mota Matos, Alves Ferreria + Haase (2011) - 722 students (353 M, 369 F) 9-16 y/o, schools in centre of Portucal. Measures used: exposure to TV violence, aggression, enjoyment of TV violence, perceived reality in TV violence + identification w/ violent TV heroes. Measures statistically analsed to see how factors related.

Found relationshop to physical aggression influenced by enjoyment of TV violence, perception of reality + identification w/ violent TV heroes. Relationship to verabl aggression - enjoyment of TV violence. Watched more TV violence tend to idenity w/ violent characters + show more physical aggression. Direct link overall.

Identification supports idea social learning is mechanism where aggression can be imitated. Also suggests disinhibition from perception of relaity of TV programmes neg related to aggression. 

Some measures - hypothetical scenarios, lack of ecological validity. Research is correlational, cause + effect can't be estab;ished. Means identification w/ TV character + perception of reality linked to aggression, but psychological processes underlying link not tested in research.

2 of 13

Role of desensitisation

Eg when watching horror film when young, may be more affected than when they're older. The more someone exposed to media that provokes fear, the less they're affected by that media. Emotional response reduced through exposure.

Works in same way w/ violence in films. Habituate level of violence + emotional, cognitive + behavioural reponse reduced. When exposed to violence prompts less of response + behaviour doesn't seem as bad as would have done prior to desensitisation. Continual use of computer game exposing violence reduces impact + revulsion may have for violence. In theory, makes them more likley to act in violent way as have reduced emotional reaction to it.

3 of 13

Role of disinhibition

Means uncharacteristic behaviour for individual demonstrated when playing game. Normally, wouldn't act in that way, but when in virtual world, disinhibited person acts in non-typical way eg displaying aggressive behaviours more intense that normally would. Can therefore be argued computer game may incite violence in someone who is passive in everyday. 

Can be explained in several ways (Suler, 2004):
 - anonymity + invisibility - assured while playing computer game. Responsibility seen as reduced. Similar to D-I.
 - solipsistic introjection - feeling of becoming cognitively merged w/ actor in game. Occurs when alter selcted to act w/in virtual world, playing as alter, gamer becomes part of alter. Uncharacteristic behaviour may occur as not acting as themselves.
 - minimisation of authority - occurs in computer games as no law enforcement or legal consequences. Behaviour that would be classified as criminal acted out as it's a virtual world.

4 of 13

Role of cognitive priming

The idea that we may be exposed to cues on TVs/computer games + these cues cna trigger behaviour inus. Cues can be anti-social, eg an aggressive act, or pro-social, eg helping behaviour. Effect of CP therefore potentially immense. Exposure to cues on daily basis. However, effects of cues moderated to some extent by context. DOn't bindly act out what we see, cues will act as triggers only if context similar (rarely is).

Possible that CP works in more general sense to influence attitude/behaviour towards being pro or anti-social. Eg may watch awards ceremony, may inspire us to act as they do. Same can be said w/ anti-social programmes, in they could have neg effect on behaviour + we may display more aggressive behaviour.

5 of 13

Effects of computer games - Strengths

Ballard (1999) reports relatively recent development of new tech to enhance computer game experience eg virtual world simulation may increase emotion felt by player. May increase likelihood of aggression.

Matthews et al (2006) found adolescents playing violent video games had decreased activity in prefrontal lobe (associated w/ control). Also had increased activation in emotion-centred areas of rain eg amygdala. Suggests violent video games increase emotion + decrease control -> aggression.

6 of 13

Effects of computer games - Weaknesses

Source of research seems to affect findings, suggests research not objective + should be treated w/ caution. Supported by Harris (2001) - found research conducted by gaming industry found no relationship between video games + violence.

Aggression, hostility + desensitisation difficult constructs to measure. Inevitably self-report measures used due to ethical constraints, therefore predictive validity + reliability of measures is questionable. Has the effect of casting doubt over validity of findings in this area.

Cause + effect diff to establish. Possible any positive correlation due to aggressive people choosing to play violent video games rather than non-violent.

7 of 13

Role of desensitisation - Strengths

Drabman + Thomas (1974) - found children become more tolerant of violence in films as amount of violence they watches increased, suggests there is a desensitisation effect.

8 of 13

Role of desensitisation - Weaknesses

Study examining relationship between exposure to violence + anti-social behaviour - Belson (1978) found no evidence to suggest link. Study of 1,500 teenage boys examined hours spent watching TV violence + anti-social attitude. Lack of link between 2 suggests desensitisation may not occur at all.

Fact that repeated exposure to violence in media may provoke diminished emotional response could mean violent + aggressive behaviour less likely to occur. If someone has low level arousal to violent stimulus, then can be argued hey may be less inclined to respond in violent way. Violence + aggression usually underpinned by high emotion.

9 of 13

Role of disinhibition - Strengths

Pinto da Mota Matos + Haase (2011) found perception of reality of TV programmed negatively related to aggression. Suggests disinhibition could be occurring, supporting the theory.

10 of 13

Role of disinhibition - Weaknesses

Hilts et al (1989) found when pen names used rather than actual names in computer conferencing, more pro-social behaviour, but not statistically significant. Seems to suggest little effect from being anonymous.

Effects of disinhibition seem to be contained in time to period while playing computer game. Means effect is relevant only while engaging w/ media, + effect is negligible while away from computer game medium.

11 of 13

Role of cognitive priming - Strengths

Holloway et al (1977) found participants who 'overheard' pro-social message on radio in waiting room before participating in study involving bargaining were more co-operative in their bargaining than those who didn't hear bulletin. Suggests pro-social effect of cognitive priming of good news.

12 of 13

Role of cognitive priming - Weaknesses

Idea of cogntive priming can be simplistic. Social learning occurs only if mediating processes conducive to imitating a behaviour. Likely this is similar w/ cognitive priming, with motivation, degree of impression + suitable context all bein factors which mediate effect cue has.

Hard to establish cause + effect. In general, true more violence exposed to in medi

13 of 13


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Aggression resources »