mechanisms mediating long-term effects of media violence

The mechanisms via which long term effects of media violence are mediated differ from those of short-term effects. A prolonged cognition and behavioral observational learning has been advanced to be one of the mechanisms (Huesmann s8). This is argued on the basis of behavior modulating processes that occur during child development. It is noted that children store social perceptions in their memory during the middle infancy and later in childhood and that such stored information serves as the guide in their future behavior (Huesmann s8). These stored scripts are obtained by observing peers, family members and mass media. The imitation of such observed behavior takes place after some time from the period of observation and as clarified or modified by the social structures where these grow (Huesmann 8). The mass media forms part of the social structures that alter or confirm the stored perceptions thus influencing subsequent behavior.

A second mechanism advocated to mediate long term effects of media violence is desensitization. Such involves the attenuation or abolishment of cognitive and emotional attributes of behavior and eventually loss of behavioral responses to a stimulus (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 25). Repeated exposure to violent sceneries in the media could result in the conditioning of some of the natural reactions characterized by emotions (Huesmann s8). Such desensitization is characterized by: a “reduced arousal and emotional disturbance” when in a violent scene hence reduced urge to intervene in fights, and declined levels of sympathy for persons suffering violent situations (Cantor 32). Such effects could be related to empathy and an individual’s attitudes towards aggression. Since empathy is generated from positive social interactions that provide opportunities to view and go through responses from behavioral choices (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 26), conditioning to violence behavior could diminish such development of empathy. Further, the intentional and purposeful manipulation of desensitization as exemplified in behavior shows how repeated stimuli could influence an individual’s perspective regarding a given phenomenon. Systemic desensitization has for example been an applied psychological remedy in children and has shown success in altering “feelings, emotions and behaviors” (Weersing and Weisz, as cited in Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 25). In relation to violence whether from real-life or media experiences, the process is noted to occur in subtle ways with an initial numbing of emotional responses to stimuli that would have otherwise elicited a strong response (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 24). Ultimately cognitive desensitization occurs which makes the individuals to perceive violence as an ordinary course of life thus decreasing the probability that the violent behavior would be excluded (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 24). Studies have supported such effect of desensitization in respect of media violence where children who had an earlier encounter with a violent film subsequently took more periods to seek adult assistance to halt what they perceived as a row between younger children (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 24).

The long term effect mediators however do not work in isolation. The involvement of other psychological aspects provides a niche for the estimation of the form of mass media that provides a greater association with real life outcomes. One of such aspects regards enactive learning processes that form part of the effectors of conditioning and reinforcement. This occurs in continuity rather than discreetly hence video games that incorporate both observation and enacting a given role could have greater long term effects than other media forms (Huesmann s8). These have been argued to be a greater risk since the player must first identify and choose strategies they view to be violent enough to guarantee their success (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 24). Since behavior can be influenced through provision of requisite rewards – negative or positive – recurrent violent player choices result into a constant cycle of rewards that lead to the perception of violence as a justified course that does not possess negative outcomes but rather embodies fun (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold and Baumgardner 24).  Further, complex conditioning also can result from multiplayer games which in most cases are done between individuals of the same peer grouping (Huesmann s8). This however does not discount the other factors in leading to real violence following media violence. Go to conclusion.

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