Taking these assumptions further, authorities rationalized varying crime rates as partly caused by delinquents driven to commit illegal acts under the influence of the violence shown by the media. Being that media violence and its effect on the viewers have been a source of much controversy, analysts have taken up the challenge of studying this topic in great depths and exploring the degrees by which it affects the viewers, or if it does affect them at all. In 2003, Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, and Wartella released details and results of their research, The Influence of Media Violence on Youth.
Their research banked highly on theories constructed to explain why and when media violence affects those exposed to it. A theory presented in the research is that media violence affects those exposed to it in both the short and long term. In the short term, the research states that media violence ¦produces increases in aggression by activating (priming) aggressive thoughts, increasing physiological arousal, and triggering an automatic tendency to imitate observed behaviors (especially among children) (Anderson et al 2003).
Simply put, this theory assumes that humans already possess aggressive thoughts and the tendency to imitate observed behaviors, and that exposure to violent acts in the media activates these tendencies to follow what was seen and heard. Moreover, the element of physiological arousal that is supposedly derived from watching violent movies entails the assumption that humans derive interest and pleasure in being exposed to acts of aggression and hostility. On the other hand, long term effects on individuals comprise ¦
increases in aggression and violence by creating long-lasting (and automatically accessible) aggressive scripts and interpretational schemas, and aggression-supporting beliefs and attitudes about appropriate social behavior (Anderson et al 2003). In other words, Anderson et al (2003) theorize that enduring exposure to media violence aggravates the assumed existing violent tendencies of humans by making aggresion and violence as their ready mindset and nature. According to the theory, such an outcome of long term exposure to media leads the individual to perceive aggressive and hostile acts and beliefs as social norms.
Moreover, the research proposes that constant exposure to media violence desensitizes the individuals attitude against criminal and negative mindsets and actions, and thus causing them to become more prone or inclined to committing related acts with little regard for their victims. While this research by Anderson et al (2003) puts forth theories that can be easily accepted by the basis of logic alone, it must be noted that they actually undermine human behavior by giving the notion that it is almost inhumane at the primary level.
This is because assumptions on humans having aggressive thoughts and tendencies by nature is almost tantamount to saying that humans are creatures of violence and that their expected behavior is indeed that of aggression and hostility. Dahl and Vigna (2008) also tackled the controversial topic on whether media violence does trigger viewers to commit related acts. Their methodology is supported not only by theories but also research based on laboratory experiments and field work.
In the study they have conducted, Dahl and Vigna (2008) have developed a model in which viewers who naturally aim to maximize their benefits and satisfaction choose between watching a violent film, watching a non-violent film, or involving themselves in an alternative activity. Some key points in their analysis include results focused on the net effect of increased exposure of individuals to media violence and their decreased involvement in social activities during periods of exposure.
The data gathered for the study comprised revenues mainly of top grossing films that showed significant acts of violence, violence ratings, the number of assault cases that sprung up in the community. The results of the study produced results that are contrary to the assumptions. One finding is that exposure to such violent movies have caused a decline in incidences of crime during the evening of the same day of exposure.
A rationale for this occurrence is referred to as voluntary incapacitation, which is a state in which individuals who do have tendencies and capabilities to commit a crime are prevented from doing so by their own choice to stay in movie theaters to watch a violent movie rather than out in public. It can also be said of this scenario that while the criminal is spending time watching a violent film instead of holding up victims in dark alleys, he is at the same time making use of an outlet for his malicious inclinations.
With the use of a regression formula, , where ? v represents the percent increase in assault for a million people exposed to strongly violent movies on day t (Avt), Vigna (2009) was able to provide a quantitative proof that the exposure has no effect during mornings or afternoons, as shown in columns 1 and 2 in the table below, there is a negative effect in the evening and a stronger negative effect at night as shown in columns 3 and 4. To clarify, the negative effect referred to in this regression analysis connotes the degree by which any effect is present.
Thus negative and stronger negative results from the formula show the complete lack of effects for evenings and nights of the same day of viewing violent movies. Source: The Economics of the Media: A Behavioral Take by Stefano Della Vigna (2009) The second finding is that exposure to violent movies cause a decline in crime the night after the said exposure. This finding shows the difference between direct effects of watching violent movies as compared to the degree of violence caused under the influence of an alternative activity. Exposure to violent movies cannot be the sole cause for the high crime rates.
Committing a crime does necessitate the malicious and criminal mind of the individual but more than that, related activities such as alcohol and drugs heighten ones tendencies and potentials to do such acts. Thus when potential criminals spend time inside a movie theater for their movie fix, they also forego instances where they could have been drinking alcohol or doing drugs. With these enabling factors reduced, the inclinations of the said potential criminals are not as heightened as when they are involved in such activities, and as a general result less crime are committed after exposure to the violent film.