Media influences

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  • Roles of desensitisation, disinhibition and cognitive priming:
  • AO1:
  • Desensitisation = reduced physiological response (SNS arousal):
  • Normally when we witness aggression we experience arousal assocaited with the sympathetic nervous system (increased heart rate, blood pressure etc) But when children repeatedly view aggression on TV or play violent computer games they become habituated and the physiological efffects are reduced (desensitsation) - i.e. a stimulus that is usually aversive has a lesser impact. 
  • Desensitisation = reduced psychological reponse (less empathy for victim:
  • Repeated exposure to violent media promotes a belief that aggression as a method of resolving conflict is socially acceptable. Therefore negative attitiudes towards violevne weaken, less empathy is felt for the victims (Frunk et al). Weisz and Earls showed participants the film Straw Dogs (contains graphic **** scene). Male viewers showed greater acceptance of **** myths after watching a mock **** trial (compared with male viewers of a non-violent film). They also showed less sympathy to the victim and were less likely to find the defendent guilty (no simialr efect for female participants). 
  • Disinhibition = exposure to violent media changes usual restraints:
  • Most people believe violence and aggression are antisocial - so there are poerful social and psychological restrains against using aggression to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Violent media gives aggressive behaviour social approval, especially where effects on victims are minimised and appear justified. The effect is that the usual restraints on individual are loosened (disinhibited) after exposure to violent media. 
  • Disinhibition enhanced if aggression rewarded:
  • It isn't unusual for computer games to show violence being rewarded at the same time as its consequences are minimised or ignored. Such rewards strengthen the new social norms in the viewer. 
  • Cognitive priming = a 'script' learned about how


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