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The problem  America is an especially violent country in terms of interpersonal violence  American popular culture contains a lot of depictions of violence.

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Presentation on theme: "The problem  America is an especially violent country in terms of interpersonal violence  American popular culture contains a lot of depictions of violence."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The problem  America is an especially violent country in terms of interpersonal violence  American popular culture contains a lot of depictions of violence  There is reason to think that the latter may be one reason for the former

3 Popular culture has been violent for a long time  Many fables and fairy stories are quite violent  Hansel and Gretel  Little Red Riding Hood  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  Sleeping Beauty  Snow White  Peter Pan

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5 Media depictions of violence have long been a source of concern  Comic book scare  Payne Fund studies  Surgeon General’s Report  Etc.

6 Competing views  Violence in fiction or fantasy is recognized as unreal and has no effect  Violence in fiction or fantasy provides an outlet for our aggressive tendencies and therefore reduces actual physical violence  Violence in fiction affects different people differently—the aggressive become more so and the non-aggressive become more so  Violence in fiction leads to aggressive action on the part of people in the audience

7 Theoretical viewpoints  Catharsis  Aggressive cues  Social learning  Reinforcement

8 Catharsis  Feshbach developed catharsis theory  He said that violent urges are built up over time and can be released by vicariously engaging in violence—that is, by watching someone else do it  Pent-up anger and aggression is natural  Some have more anger than others  Watching violent content reduces the need to aggress in your own personal life

9 Aggressive cues theory  Formulated by Leonard Berkowitz (1962)  Looks at violent content as a stimulus to physiological and emotional arousal, which tends to increase the possibility of aggressive behavior.  Depictions of violence, weapons and threats induce arousal, and also provide cues as to how to release that aggressive energy.

10  His classic design was to show subjects excerpts from the movie "The Champion."  Subjects in the experimental group were less likely to provide reward and more likely to inflict aggression (electric shock) on a fellow subject.

11 Effects are not uniform  An aggressive stimulus does not always elicit an aggressive response, nor will it be likely to elicit the same degree of aggressiveness in all audience members.  Selective exposure to violent content  Individual differences in inhibition levels

12 Frustration  Frustration at the time of exposure to a violent television program increases likelihood and intensity of an aggressive response

13 Justification  If the portrayed violence was justified, then the likelihood of producing aggression is increased.  Retaliatory violence  Violence to protect oneself or others  Viewers may learn patterns of justification for their own violence

14 Context  Another important factor is the similarity of the context of the media violence to the frustrations which are produced by the context of the viewer's everyday life.

15 Suffering  One factor inhibits aggression. If media portrayals of violence show the pain and anguish of victims of violence, the resultant inhibitions inspired by guilt and sympathy would lead to less violence produced.

16 Observational learning theory  The most influential theory concerning the effect of violent portrayals on aggressive or violent behavior was developed by Albert Bandura— observational learning theory.  Social learning theory  Social cognitive theory  Bandura was trying to determine how humans could develop such complicated and wide- ranging behaviors so quickly  Existing learning models argued that we learn by trial and error

17 Observational learning theory  Bandura and Walters (1963) said that aggressive behavior is learned through observation and modeling  Actors engaging in violence provide the viewer with behavioral models that they can learn and express under similar circumstances

18 "The probability of audience members' exhibiting learned violent behavior is enhanced by such factors as an expectation of being rewarded by others for such behavior, similarity between the situation presented in the television portrayal and the social situation encountered by viewers after exposure, and anticipation of social support from a co-viewer who praises the violent action of the television characters."

19 The good perp  Another feature of the depiction that will enhance its effect is when the perpetrator is an appealing character or attractive model for the behavior.

20 Bobo Doll research

21 Reinforcement theory  Reinforcement theory is identified with the work of Joseph Klapper (1960). It is based on the assumption that "television portrayals of violence reinforce whatever established pattern of violent behavior that viewers bring with them to the television situation.“  Klapper wrote the most famous “limited effects” analysis of media studies  He emphasized selectivity on the part of the audience member

22  "Reinforcement theorists look to such factors as cultural norms and values, social roles, personality characteristics, and family or peer influences as the primary determinants of violent behavior as well as the effect of violent content.”  These factors guide the selective exposure, perception, interpretation and recall of violent media content.  The violent content, then, acts merely to reinforce the predispositions the viewer brings to the screen.

23 There may be some stronger effects  Effects may be more direct and pronounced among people who are unstable and lack social support networks. These people lack alternative forms of socialization and learning and thus can become particularly dependent on mediated contact.

24 What does this say about violent depictions?  Recent scholarly analysis looks beyond the mere total of violent acts in media content. More subtle distinctions regarding depictions of violent acts and the role of violence in the story have come to be considered as important as the volume.

25 National Television Violence Study (NTVS)  The NTVS staff found 80 experiments where some contextual feature of media violence was manipulated to see how it affected outcomes. Based on these studies, the NTVS staff identified the following contextual features in violent media that can affect young viewers:

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27 Amount of violence in prime time by channel type Broadcast network (90 hrs) Independent broadcast (31 hrs) Public broadcast (17 hrs) Basic cable (232 hrs) Premium cable (48 hrs) Programs with violence 67%77%23%65%88% # of violent interactions ,2961,123 Rate of violent interactions/hour Programs w/ saturated violence 31%43%021%73%

28 Amount of violence in prime time by genre Drama (66 hrs) Comedy (49.5 hrs) Children’s (29.5 hrs) Movies (215.5 hrs) Videos (32 hrs) Reality (74 hrs) Programs with violence 82%43%80%93%50%46% # of violent interactions , Rate of violent interactions/hour Programs w/ saturated violence 34%3%16%68%0%17%

29 Amount of violence across subgenres of children’s programming Source: Wilson, Smith, Potter, Kunkel, Linz, Colvin & Donnerstein, 2002 Journal of Communication SlapstickSuperheroAdventure/ mystery Social relationship Magazine % of programs with violence Number of violent PATs per hour Number of violent scenes per hour % of time devoted to violence

30 PTC findings

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34 Source: Signorielli, 2003

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39 Character attributes of perpetrators n=660 n=1,019 n=12,959

40 Context of Violence in Children’s vs. Nonchildren’s programming: Nature of perpetrator

41 Proportion of characters involved in violence [Primetime, ] Source: Signorielli, 2003

42 Proportion of characters involved in violence [Primetime, ] Source: Signorielli, 2003

43 Context of violence

44 Proportion of characters involved in violence [Primetime, ] Source: Signorielli, 2003

45 Proportion of characters involved in violence [Primetime, ]

46 Graphicness

47 Perpetrators go unpunished in 73% of all violent scenes.  This pattern is highly consistent across different types of programs and channels. The portrayal of rewards and punishments is probably the most important of all contextual factors for viewers as they interpret the meaning of what they see on television.

48 Rewards/punishments

49 Proportion of characters involved in violence [Primetime, ] Source: Signorielli, 2003

50 Reinforcements for violence

51 Consequences

52 Consequences to victim

53 Proportion of characters involved in violence [Primetime, ] Source: Signorielli, 2003

54 Only 4% of violent programs emphasize an anti-violence theme.  Very few violent programs place emphasis on condemning the use of violence or on presenting alternatives to using violence to solve problems. This pattern is consistent across different types of programs and channels.

55 Humor/fantasy

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57  The NTVS continues to find that cartoons contain high rates of violence portrayed in ways that many existing studies agree will increase the probability of harmful effects. Children under 7 years are particularly at risk because of limited ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

58  Cartoon violence is (frequently) performed by attractive characters, seems justified, goes unpunished, and results in minimal consequences for the victim — all characteristics likely to promote young children’s learning of aggressive behaviors.


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