The problem I am researching is the desensitizing of Americas youth through violence in the mass media, specifically television and video games. I am interested in studying it because as violence on television and the violent content contained in video games has increased, so has youth violence. I want to find if the increasing violence shown on television and video games has a desensitizing effect on Americas youth, thus, increasing the probability that they will commit an act of violence. I believe that this research is important because I think violence on television and video games is a form of classical conditioning. In the movie, A Clockwork Orange, the character was given negative reinforcement whenever he sees acts of violence shown to him on television.
Eventually, he becomes repulsed by it and feels ill every time he sees or thinks of committing an act of violence. I think television and violent games are having a reverse effect on Americas youth. Violence is glorified in the mass media, thus youth become to associate killing with entertainment, they see violence as the manly thing to do, and they see how violence on television often goes unpunished. I feel this is a cause of youth violence because of the desensitizing nature of violence on television. One study showed that network programming averages 36.6 violent acts per hour.
Is there any question that this would have a desensitizing effect on Americas youth over time?
I looked at five other studies that were related to my research. The first was from an article from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitled Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life by Craig Anderson and Karen Dill. In the article, the effects of violent video games on youths were studied. What was found was that real-life violent video game play was positively related to increased aggressive behavior and delinquency. Also, academic achievement was negatively related to the overall amount of time spent playing games. This study involved two different forms of observation.
The short-term effects (laboratory aggression) of the video games was studied using laboratory observation, while the long-term effects (increased delinquency) were studied using surveys.
Another study I looked at was an article from the Sociological Spectrum entitled Violence, Morality, and Television Commercials by Brenden Maguire, Diane Sandage, and Georgie Ann Weatherby. This study examined whether violence in television commercials was related to declining morality and rising crime among youths. A content analysis was performed of 1699 commercials shown over sixteen days and evenings in January and February of 1996 and June and July in 1997. What was found that only a small percentage of commercials contained violence and a small number of commercials exhibited behavior or attitudes contrary to conventional moral standards. Maguire et al concluded that although advertisers sponsor programs that feature violence, they do not wish to associate violence with their products.
Therefore, commercials have little to effect on the increasing aggressive tendencies of Americas youth.
The third article I studied was from the journal, Aggression and Violent Behavior 4, entitled Film Violence and Young Offenders by Amanda Pennell and Kevin Browne. In this article, Pennell and Browne found that screen violence can affect consumer behavior by: imitation of violent roles and aggressive acts; triggering of aggressive impulses in predisposed individuals; desensitizing feelings of sympathy towards victims; creating indifference towards use of violence; and creating a frame of mind that sees violent acts as socially acceptable responses to stress and frustration. Pennell and Browne found young offenders like violent videos because of their aggressive backgrounds and behavioral tendencies, but concluded that whether such tastes in film reinforce violent behavior and increasing frequency of aggressive acts is debatable. The methodology used in this study was laboratory observation, with each youth being shown a violent video and their immediate reaction as well as their impression of the video late being noted.
The fourth article I used was entitled Cutting Film Violence: Effects on Perceptions, Enjoyment, and Arousal by Mike Berry, Tim Gray, and Ed Donnerstein.
This article was taken from the Journal of Social Psychology. This study investigated the effects of cutting specific graphic scenes .