Critically discuss the evidence that viewing violent media causes aggression

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Critically discuss the evidence that viewing violent media causes aggression

From time to time, the media industry comes under political attack.  Allegations are frequently made that viewing violent media has an adverse affect on the viewer.  It appears that many a time allegations are linked to a particular tragedy at that moment e.g. the Hungerford Massacre, the columbine shootings, the James Bulger murder, etc.  A moral panic is created and people look for something or someone to blame and the media is an easy target.  The allegations usually has no support, people have not examined the facts or read the evidence.  Violence in the media causing violence in society is such a common claim that probably most people will think its true. Many blame crime rates on the media but the British crime survey shows that the victimisation rates have fallen back to what they were in 1981 so if crime has fallen but yet there is more violence within the media there is no correlation between the two.  

In Hungerford 1987, Michael Ryan shot dead 16 people before killing himself with a pistol.  The media blamed Rambo films for the Hungerford disaster simply because he had a headband on his head at the time.  However there has been no evidence ever found that Michael Ryan has ever seen a Rambo film.  The Bulger case was another case where the horror film Childs play 3 was blamed for the Bulger killing simply because the father of one of the boys had rented out the film a couple of months earlier.  It was actually found that the boy was not even living at the house at that time so the boy may not have seen the film and in a psychiatric report it was found that neither boy liked horror films.  The columbine shootings blamed the computer game doom.  However, it was found that most of their classmates had played doom.  Yet, they had not been involved in carrying out the killings.

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Leyens et Al. (1975) carried out an experiment with participants in a boarding school in Belgium. Boys were housed in four dorms. 2 dorms had high levels of aggression, whereas the other 2 dorms did not. During the experiment, boys in 2 dorms (1 high aggression, 1 low aggression) watched violent films, whilst the other 2 dorms watched non-violent films.

Increased levels of physical aggression were reported in the boys who watched the violent films, whilst this was not the case with the boys who watched the non-violent films. However, verbal aggression in those exposed to non-violent films decreased, ...

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