New Consensus Links Viewing Media Violence With Acting Violently

Long considered an area in which willpower reigned supreme, new scientific analyses suggest there is a positive correlation between viewing violence and acting violently.

What's the Latest Development?


Long considered an area in which willpower reigned supreme, new scientific analyses suggest there is a positive correlation between viewing violence on the screen or page, or listening to it through speakers, and acting violently in real life. "In a meta-analysis of 217 studies published between 1957 and 1990, the psychologists George Comstock and Haejung Paik found that the short-term effect of exposure to media violence on actual physical violence against a person was moderate to large in strength." The researchers liken the correlation to contracting lung cancer through secondhand smoke—a tenuous position, but one that is gaining ground.

What's the Big Idea?

While meta-studies show broad scientific trends over many thousands of people over many years, what is missing in the media-violence-causes-actual-violence debate is evidence showing a direct link between media content and physical behavior. To be sure, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association all consider media violence exposure a risk factor for actual violence. While exposure to violent media isn't the strongest risk factor for violence, "it’s more easily modified than other risk factors (like being male or having a low socioeconomic status or low I.Q.)."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at the New York Times

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less