How The Effects Of Media On Antisocial Behaviour Contributed To The London Riots

821 words - 3 pages

Aggression can be defined as ‘behaviour performed with intent to harm another’, whilst Violence can be defined as ‘behaviour designed to cause physical injury or damage’. It would be safe to say that both of these actions took place during the London riots. Bandura and Walters (1963) believed aggression could not necessarily be explained using the traditional learning theory; where direct experience was seen as responsible for the acquisition of any new behaviour. The revised Social Learning theory suggests that we are also able to learn through observing others’ behaviour and the outcomes of that behaviour. This would suggest that many rioters were simply ‘copying’ behaviour they witnessed in others. Due to the large amount of televised material surrounding the riots many spectators may have been encouraged to join in as they saw the existing rioters reaping rewards for their actions. This is heavily supported by the Bobo doll study conducted by Bandura et al (1961) results of which show that those within the sample that were exposed to a model acting aggressively toward the doll reproduced a large amount of the aggression and violence they had witnessed, however those that had experienced a model who was non-aggressive toward the doll exhibited virtually no violence toward the toy.
Huesmann and Moise (1996) suggested five ways in which exposure to violence in the media may lead to aggression, these were; Observational learning and imitation, Cognitive priming, Desensitisation, Lowered physiological arousal and Justification. The London riots can be used to support all sections of this theory such as observational learning and imitation, as individuals are more likely to imitate behaviour shown on television if they respect the people they are observing or are sympathetic to their views. Philips (1983) examined crime statistics during days following televised heavy-weight boxing contests. He found a significant rise in numbers of murders committed during that period, whilst no such rise was discovered after the televised Superbowl; a less violent sport.
Another of Huesmann and Moise’s ways is Desensitisation; this assumes that anxiety about aggression inhibits the use of violence. Media violence however may desensitise viewers thus making violence and aggression more acceptable the more it is televised. This is often learnt from a young age. Giles (2003) stated that there are stronger desensitisation effects for men than women. It is also interesting to note that Jacklin and Maccoby (1974) found that Males are easier to desensitise and are therefore both physically and verbally more abusive than Females, this view is supported by the...

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