showing of media violence and real life violent or aggressive behaviour.
Albert Bandura hasdeve
loped a “social learning theory”
based on observation which may then disinhibit a
person‟s views on violence or it may just result in direct im
itation of the act.
Other modelshave developed such as social cognition, social information-processing and cognitive neo-association.
For the purpose of this essay it is only necessary to note that the theories takethe overtly positivist approach, that media has a direct influence on behaviour.
With behaviourism being the pre-
eminent theory behind the “media effects” debate,
most of the research is based on the immediate and direct relationship between stimulus andresponse. John Watson stated this made behaviourism
“eminently suitable for investigation
by laboratory experimentation, or by studies that followed the basic logic of experimentation.
Bandura developed the early experiments involving nursery school children. Thechildren were split into four groups; one group saw a real life demonstration of a personhitting an inflatable doll, another was shown the same situation only on film, and a third sawa cartoon cat hitting the doll. The final group was a control group who saw nothing. Thechildren who saw the film and the cartoon aggressed the most.
This was taken as evidenceof a direct relationship between screen violence and juvenile aggression. Bandura laterdeveloped this experiment and found that the reward or lack of punishment for the perpetratorof the violent act increased the level aggression that the child would inflict against the doll.
Research has developed and experiments have taken different forms, many showing apositive relationship between violent media consumption and violent or aggressivebehaviours:
Crime, Media and the Law
(Chichester: Wiley, 1998) at 21.
See Albert Bandura,
Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis
(London: Prentice-Hall, 1973).
For a good summary of the theories see Steven Kirsch,
Children, adolescents, and media research: a criticallook at the research (
London: SAGE, 2006), or Jennings Bryant, Susan Thompson,
Fundamentals of Media Effects
(London: McGraw Hill, 2002).
John Watson as quoted by Graham Murdock, „Reservoirs of Dogma: An archaeology of popular anxieties‟, in
Martin Barker and Julian Petley eds.
Ill Effects: The Media/ Violence Debate
ed., London: Routledge, 2001)at 164.
Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ro
ss and Shelia Ross, „Imitation of film
mediated aggressive models‟, 66(3)
Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology
Albert Bandura, „Influence of models‟ reinforcement contingencies on the acquisition of imitative responses,‟
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology