The Influence of the Media on Antisocial Behavior
There are many studies and examples to indicate that the amount of
violence children witness on television or see through other forms of
media are reflected in their own levels of aggression and violence.
Studies into this include Bandura’s Bobo Doll study, Parke’s and
Leynes’ studies into teenage aggression, Black and Bevan’s study into
violence and the cinema and the St. Helena study. These studies had
varying results but on the whole they support the theory that
prolonged viewing of violence in the media equates to increased
violence and aggression in real life.
Bandura conducted a laboratory experiment to see whether aggressive
acts by adults towards a Bobo doll would be copied by the children
watching and whether the way in which the adult was treated after,
either rewarded, punished or no feedback, would affect the results.
Bandura found that children who had witnessed the model-rewarded or no
consequences condition were more likely to imitate observed behaviour
than the children who had witnessed the model-punished condition.
However, in a second part of the study when children were offered
rewards to recall the behaviour witnessed it was found that all three
groups scored equally well suggesting that whilst punishment, or the
threat of punishment, may stop the copying of acts it does not stop
one from learning them. Bandura’s study is good because, as a
laboratory experiment, it was conducted in a controlled environment
and one can easily establish cause and effect. Also there is tight
control over extraneous variables. However, the fact that it was a
laboratory experiment means that it has low ecological validity.
Although it can easily be repeated it was not in a natural setting.
The results achieved may also be due to demand characteristics and the
ethics of the study are also in question. Should experimenters really
encourage acts of violence in children?
Field experiments have far higher ecological validity than laboratory
ones but there is poor control over extraneous variables as it is in a
natural setting and it can only measure short term effects. Parke et
al investigated boys in an institution where the amount of television
and the type of television could be controlled. The juvenile offenders
were shown films that either did or did not contain violence.
Observers then coded the amount of violence demonstrated by the two
sets of boys during that day. It was found that those who had watched
the violent films were more likely to demonstrate violent behaviour.
In a second part of the experiment the boys gave fake electric shocks
to someone who had provoked them. The boys who had seen the violent
films were found to be more likely to give more shocks. Whilst this
study clearly demonstrates a correlation between...