After studying this chapter you should be able to:Discuss ho…

After studying this chapter you should be able to:Discuss how portrayals of violence in different media may affect human behaviourDescribe a key piece of research by Albert Bandura and colleagues into childrenā€™s imitation of violent actsOutline why findings of associations between events and behaviour do not provide conclusive evidence of cause-and-effect relationshipsOutline how and why experiments can identify causes of behaviourSummarise the findings of psychological research into the topic of media violence and behaviourOutline the policies designed to protect children from negative effects of screen violence.

Introduction

The influence of media on human behavior has been a subject of continuous research and debate. One aspect of media that has garnered particular attention is the portrayal of violence across various forms of media, such as television, films, video games, and social media. Numerous studies have investigated the effects of media violence on human behavior, with researchers attempting to understand how exposure to violent content may influence individuals, particularly children, and their propensity to engage in violent acts.

This essay will discuss the potential effects of portrayals of violence in different media on human behavior. It will examine a key piece of research conducted by Albert Bandura and colleagues, which explored the imitation of violent acts by children. Furthermore, it will outline the limitations associated with associational findings and why they do not provide conclusive evidence of cause-and-effect relationships. Additionally, the essay will highlight the significance of experimental research in identifying causes of behavior and summarize the findings of psychological research regarding media violence and behavior. Finally, it will outline policies designed to protect children from the negative effects of screen violence.

Effect of Portrayals of Violence in Different Media on Human Behavior

The portrayal of violence in various forms of media has the potential to affect human behavior. Research suggests that exposure to violent media content can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior and desensitization to violence (Anderson et al., 2003). The presence of violence in the media can shape individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children (Huesmann, Moise-Titus, Podolski, & Eron, 2003). Children who are frequently exposed to violent media may internalize aggressive scripts and perceive violence as an acceptable means of problem-solving (Huesmann & Taylor, 2006).

Research by Albert Bandura and Colleagues on Children’s Imitation of Violent Acts

One influential study conducted by Albert Bandura and colleagues provided important insights into the imitation of violent acts by children (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961). In this study, children were exposed to an adult model who engaged in aggressive behavior towards a Bobo doll, a large inflatable toy. The children who observed the aggressive behavior were more likely to imitate it in their own interactions with the doll compared to those who didn’t witness any violence. This research demonstrated that children can learn aggressive behaviors through observational learning and imitation, highlighting the potential impact of media violence on behavior.

Limitations of Associational Findings in Establishing Cause-and-Effect Relationships

Findings that associate media violence with behavior do not establish causal relationships. Although correlational studies can provide valuable insights into potential relationships, they are limited in establishing cause and effect due to various confounding variables. For example, individuals who are more prone to aggressive behavior may be more likely to seek out violent media content. Additionally, other environmental factors and personal characteristics may contribute to individuals’ propensity to engage in violent acts, making it challenging to isolate the effects of media violence alone.

Significance of Experimental Research in Identifying Causes of Behavior

Experimental research plays a crucial role in identifying causes of behavior. By manipulating variables and controlling extraneous factors, experimental studies can provide stronger evidence of causation. For instance, studies that randomly assign individuals to exposure to violent media or nonviolent media conditions can help establish a cause-and-effect relationship between media violence and aggressive behavior. Experimental designs allow researchers to control for confounding variables and increase the internal validity of their findings.

Psychological Research Findings on Media Violence and Behavior

Psychological research has extensively explored the relationship between media violence and behavior. Meta-analytic studies have consistently found a small to moderate positive association between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior (Anderson et al., 2010; Ferguson et al., 2013). Longitudinal studies have further shown a significant relationship between exposure to violent media in childhood and aggression in later life (Huesmann et al., 2003). However, it is important to note that media violence is just one of many factors that contribute to aggressive behavior, and its effects can vary based on individual characteristics, context, and other socioenvironmental factors.

Policies designed to Protect Children from Negative Effects of Screen Violence

Given the potential negative effects of media violence on children’s behavior, various policies have been implemented to protect them. These include age restrictions for violent media content, parental control measures, and public awareness campaigns highlighting the importance of monitoring children’s media consumption. Additionally, educational programs promoting media literacy can help individuals develop critical thinking skills and evaluate media messages, including those related to violence.

Conclusion

In conclusion, portrayals of violence in different forms of media have the potential to affect human behavior, particularly among children. Research, such as the study conducted by Bandura and colleagues, suggests that exposure to violent media can lead to imitation of aggressive behaviors. However, establishing causation remains challenging due to the limitations of associational findings. Experimental research is crucial for identifying causes of behavior and controlling for confounding variables. Psychological research has shown a consistent association between media violence and aggressive behavior, although its effects are influenced by various factors. Policies have been implemented to protect children from the negative effects of screen violence, emphasizing the need for parental guidance and media literacy education. Further research is needed to better understand the complex relationship between media violence and behavior.