January 10th, 2018
Negative effects of media violence and mechanisms mediating these events
The mechanism through which media violence is thought to contribute to real life violence has been argued mainly on psychological theories. Such theories do not only argue on how this is brought about but also why the observation of violent acts could contribute to ones engagement in similar activities. Zuckerman (86) for example notes that at the level of observational learning both genetic and sociological factors interact to influence an individual’s behavioral and personality traits. The processes mediating such effects have however been postulated to differ depending on whether the effects are short-term or long run. Short-term effects of exposure to media violence have for example been attributed to “priming process, arousal processes” and subsequent emulation of specific acts observed (Huesmann s7). Long term effects on the other hand have been proposed to arise from a prolonged “observational learning of cognition and behaviors” accompanied by “activation and desensitization of emotional processes (Huesmann s8).
Short-term effects can for example be explained by the social cognitive theory. These include minor imitation of the aggressive acts meted on objects such as toys and numbing of normal responses to emotional stimuli. The social cognition theory proposes that children have a tendency to imitate observed behaviors (Cantor 31). Such behaviors then can be learnt through observing the society components such as peers, adults and teachers but the mass media also provides avenues through which the behaviors can be observed. Safety oriented “commercial breaks” that feature in violent programs such as wrestling perhaps have been informed by the realization that children imitate the acts exhibited in the programs leading to massive injuries. Imitation of observed behavior was actually noted in Israel following the introduction of Wrestling Federation programs in 1994 (Cantor 31). A second psychological based theory that explains the observed short-term effects has been proposed to be excitation transfer theory [arousal process] (Zillman, as cited in Cantor 31). It is noted that the responses to a stimuli that evokes emotions might be more pronounced due to miss-attribution of such emotions to the stimuli though these could actually have been elicited by the initial viewing of violent media (Huesmann s7). An alternative proposal is that the increased arousal following the viewing of violent media could have attained a peak level that on subsequent stimulation the safeguards available to restrict inappropriate responses are overwhelmed (Huesmann s8). Short lived arousal peaks have however been implicated in a portion of media violence mediated effects but not others (Cantor 31). Go to long-term mechanism.