Social learning theory
A01 children observe the actions of media models and may later imitate these behaviours, especially when the child admires and identifies with the model. television may also inform viewers of the positive and negative consequences of violent behaviour. Children also may be expected to imitate violent behaviour that is successful in gaining the models objectives. the more the child perceive the violent scenes to be, the more likely they try out these behaviours that they have learnt.
A02 support by Bandura & Walters (1963) films of adult models watched by three groups of children (model rewarded, punished, no consequence) reward condition most likely to imitate. But low ecological validity (toy not person) and demand characteristics(Noble1975).
However, Phillips (1983) crime statistics 10 days following televised heavyweight boxing fights, there was significant rise in number of murders. But no such rise after televised Superbowl contests. high ecological validity but Ev's boxing= bars/alcohol vs Superbowl = family occasion.
SLT fairly deterministic and Cumberbatch (2001) argues that there are often anecdotal claims of copy cat violence but no real evidence for this.
A01 Under normal conditions, anxiety about violence inhibits its use (i.e prevents us from using it) Media violence however may cause aggressive behaviour by desensitizing children to the effects of violence. The more violence that a child views on TV, the more acceptable that aggressive behaviour become. This also may cause children to be less anxious about violence and so are no longer inhibited about using it.
A02 supported by Johnson & Young (2002) Longitudinal study of 700 young Americans over a 17 year period. Related the amount of TV watched at 14 years old to aggressive acts (assault/battery) between ages 16-22. Those who watch more than 3 hours TV daily were more likely to commit aggressive acts between ages 16 and 22 (29% vs 6%). But does not show cause and effect e.g do aggressive kids like watching TV? Ev's e.g lax parenting is both linked to excessive TV watching and aggressive behaviour. However Johnson & Young (2002) did control some factors (childhood neglect, neighbourhood violence, previous aggressive behaviour and parental income) and finding remained intact.
General A02 Cumberbatch (2001) argues that people might get 'used' to violence on TV screens but this does not mean that they will get used to violence in the real world.
General A02- line of argument Conclusion
There is support for both explanations but research has been criticised for showing gender bias - taking research heavily focused on male participant and assuming it applies to females in the same way.
Much of the experimental data focuses on short-lived effects and natural experiments have mixed results with some such as those involving the introduction of TV to St Helena not showing significant effects of media on antisocial behaviour.
In general, this supports Comstock & Paik's (1991) view that there is stronger support for short-term effects of media on antisocial behaviour than for long-term effects.