Outline and Evaluate explanations of media effects on anti-social behaviour
Outline and Evaluate explanations of Media effects on anti-social behaviour.
One explanation of media effects on anti-social behaviour is called observational learning, which is described to be where we observe and identify with onscreen hero models. We will start to imitate their behaviour depending on the consequences and since we see that heroes are successful we wish to repeat the success. This is social learning theory since the reward of success increases the chances of imitating the behaviour. However, since heroes also use violence and can still gain success it means that observing an onscreen hero may lead an individual to repeat the violent behaviour and an explanation for anti-social behaviour.
In support of this explanation Bandura set up an investigation using a bobo doll and children aged 3 to 5 years old. Bandura wanted to see whether children observing behaviour will imitate them, so split the children into groups were they either watched adults beat the bobo doll or act gently towards it. In a variation to the original study the violent group also used an action word such as ‘pow’. The findings show that the children who watched the violent adult when allowed to interact with the bobo doll also showed higher levels of violence compared to the children who watched the gentle adult. Although the gentle group showed violent behaviour it was shown that anti social behaviour is imitated since the group that watched adults that shouted action words also shouted the action words. This all suggests that observational learning is an explanation for media effects on anti social behaviour.
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However, criticisms of the study can be found from the findings by Noble that suggest the study had demand characteristics. He goes on to quote a girl who said to her mother: “look mummy that’s the doll I have to hit”. Since the girl already knows what she has to do it undermines the finidngs as the children were already going to show violent so whether not they are imitating behaviour cannot be confirmed.
Another explanation of media effects on anti social behaviour is cognitive priming which is where we are said to be primed to respond aggressively after watching onscreen violence since a network of memories are retrieved. Moreover, frequently watching violent or aggressive tv and movies leads to schemas being produced. For example this means that if a situation arises that is similar to a scene from you memory the response appropriate may be perceived to react violent according to the schema. This is another explanation of the effects of media on anti social behaviour.
Evidence for this comes from the study by Josephson and the junior ice hockey players. In the study junior ice hockey players were purposely wound up and aggravated before a match and shown a video tape. They were split into different groups and watched different videos where one had a referee with a walkie talkie and the other with a ref without a walkie talkie. Then when the match started it was found the group who had a ref in the game with a walkie talkie and watched the video with the walkie talkie showed the highest levels of aggression and frustration. These findings suggest that the walkie talkie acted as a que for the primed response which was aggression and does support cognitive priming.
A methodological issue can found from this study, and that is that its unethical to get children angry and frustrated before a match and actually looking to make them violence since it would be unethical, moreover there is an increased chance they may start to fight each other. Therefor this all goes on to show how the study can be undermined since it isn’t ethical.
A third explanation of media effects on anti social behaviour is called desensitisation. This where constantly watching onscreen violence leads the person to become desensitised to the effects of violence to the point it is normalised and isn’t shocking anymore. Essentially, the more you witness onscreen violence the less sensitive it becomes. This makes it easier to do since it feels more acceptable and produces less feelings of guilt and therefore an explanation for media effects on anti social behaviour.
However, Cumberbatch argues that watching onscreen violence does not make you violent. He comments that it is different; onscreen violence and real world violence and that frequent viewing of onscreen violence desensitises you to that and not real world violence. Cumberbatch argues that onscreen violence makes you frightened and not frightening, undermining this explanation.
Finally is the explanation called justification; this explanation is defined as television offers children a justification for their behaviour since television is used as a moral guideline for what is and for what isn’t acceptable. Since children watch their heroes often display violence to beat the bad guy they may look to use that behaviour as a justification for their own. It diminishes concern and guilt over consequences of their actions as anti social behaviour on screen goes unpunished.
In support of this explanation are shows like ‘A-team’ often use violence to win the battle and this may lead a child to believe it is ok to use the same, ‘appropriate’ behaviour just because their onscreen hero has, so this means our actions can be justified and means children will be more inclined to use anti social behaviour.
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