Children spend more cumulative time watching TV than going to school, and many children have a tv and/or laptop in their own room, allowing unmonitored viewing.
Smith & Donnerstein (1998) - TV programmes have overwhelmingly anti-social content including humour about violence, attractive violent role models and no negative repercussions for violence.
Huesmann et al (2003) - longitudinal study, measured physical aggression of adults exposed to violent TV 15 years before. Controlled for socio-economic status, IQ, parental education and initial levels of aggressiveness. Found a strong positive correlation between two measures.
There are 2 broad types of explanation for the effect of media on anti-social behaviour. These are:
- Explanations of situational (or short term) effects.
- Explanations of socialisation (or long term) effects.
Situational Exp. 1 – Excitation Transfer
Zillman (1969) - Any media message that creates generalised emotional arousal (eg. Sport, humour, suspense, sex) can influence subsequent behaviour by intensifying subsequent emotional states.
Effects can also be longer term – frequent exposure to anti-social media followed by anger provoking events can feed into self-image.
Donnerstein & Berkowitz (1981) - showed male university students a film containing either sex and violence, a non-violent sex film or a neutral film.
The men were then given an opportunity to give a woman who had angered them earlier, electric shocks. Those men who had viewed the violent sex film gave the most intense electric shocks.
Situational Exp. 2 – Cognitive Priming
Aggressive cues can trigger aggressive feelings and thoughts.
Anderson et al (2003) - songs with violent lyrics increase aggression-related thoughts.
Rosenbaum & Prinsky (1987) - Pps asked to rate 35 popular performers according to the extent they sang about sex.
They overwhelmingly reported that love rather than sex was the theme.
Ballard & Coates (1995) - found no measurable changes in Pps mood after listening to different musical genres (rap or heavy metal) and lyrics (murder, suicide or neutral) BUT lyrics often incomprehensible.
Socialisation Exp. 1 – Social Learning Theory
Bandura et al (1963) - allowed children to play in a room full of toys, the mildly frustrated them by removing the toys.
Some children were then shown a film of an adult hitting a bobo doll.
Children then returned to playroom containing toys including bobo doll.
More imitative behaviours were displayed by the children who had seen the violent film.
Socialisation Exp. 2 – Emotional Desensitisation
Arousal diminishes with repeated exposure, therefore aggression becomes less inhibited.
Drabman & Thomas (1979) - children who viewed violent material showed less emotional response to subsequent violent scenes.
Linz et al (1989) - repeated exposure to violent *********** reduced the likelihood of Pps labelling similar new material as violent or pornographic.
Prosocial behaviour - Social Modelling
Sprafkin et al (1975) - showed some 6 year olds an episode of Lassie involving a puppy rescue, another group an episode with no rescue and a third group an episode of The Brady Bunch.
All the children then played a game in which they could win prizes, during which they encountered a group of distressed, whining puppies. Group A spent more time trying to comfort the puppies, despite this compromising their chances of winning.
Prosocial behaviour - Empathy
Genuine empathy starts around the age of 3.
Children develop close attachments with media characters, especially pre-schoolers.
Yancey et al (2002) - nearly 40% teenagers in sample named a media figure as a role model.
Duck (1990) - teenagers chose media figures they would most like to be like based on their own characteristics.
Prosocial behaviour - Parental Influence
Singer & Singer (1998) - parents watching pro-social programmes with their children enhance understanding by explaining and discussing moral content.
Coates & Hartup (1969) - 4 yr olds recalled more of a model’s behaviour when an adult verbally labelled the behaviour than when watching alone.
McKenna & Ossoff (1998) - asked 4 – 10 yr olds about moral messages in Power Rangers. Only older children (8+) could identify it. Younger children focused on the fighting.
The General Learning Model
Buckley & Anderson (2006)
Learning from media involves complex interaction of:
- Personal variables - Attitudes, beliefs, experience & behavioural tendencies
- Situational variables - Aspects of the media itself, nature of current exposure
These variables influence:
- Cognitions – increasing pro-social thoughts, triggering pro-social behaviour
- Affect – mood congruent or mood dependent effects
- Arousal – too much inhibits learning, too little leads to boredom and lack of attention
The General Learning Model
Greitemeyer (2009) - studied the effects of pro-social lyrics in songs.
Pps who listened to pro-social lyrics completed word fragments with more pro-social words than those who had listened to neutral lyrics.
Greitemeyer suggested that the pro-social songs had affected the internal state of Pps and increased accessibility of pro-social thoughts.
However the study only tested short term effects. The GLM may not be able to explain long term changes.