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Discuss the influence of media on aggressive behavior, including the effects of computer games.

Aggression

Psychology Essays

 A Level/AS Level/O Level

Free Essay Outline

Outline: The Influence of Media on Aggressive Behavior

I. Introduction
Introduce the topic of media violence and its potential influence on aggressive behavior. Briefly define aggression and the various forms it can take.

II. The Role of Media in Shaping Behavior
Discuss the role of media in shaping individual behaviors and attitudes. Explore the various theories of media influence, such as social learning theory and the cultivation theory.

III. Effects of Violent Media
Examine the evidence for the link between violent media consumption and aggressive behavior. Discuss studies that show a correlation between exposure to violent media and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and actions.

IV. The Specific Effects of Violent Video Games
Explore the unique characteristics of violent video games and their potential effects on aggression. Discuss the interactive nature of video games, the desensitization effect, and the potential for aggression priming.

V. Factors that Moderate the Effects of Media Violence
Discuss the individual, social, and situational factors that can moderate the impact of media violence, such as age, gender, personality traits, and parental mediation.

VI. Ethical Implications and Practical Recommendations
Consider the ethical implications of media violence and discuss potential solutions, such as parental control mechanisms, media literacy programs, and responsible media content creation.

VII. Conclusion
Summarize the findings and reiterate the importance of understanding the potential influences of media violence, particularly computer games, on aggressive behavior. Emphasize the need for further research and responsible media consumption.

Free Essay

The Influence of Media on Aggressive Behavior

I. Introduction
The ubiquitous presence of media in our lives has sparked ongoing debate regarding its potential influence on human behavior, particularly aggression. Aggression, defined as any behavior intended to harm another person physically or psychologically (Anderson & Bushman, 2001), can manifest in various forms, ranging from verbal abuse to physical violence. While the relationship between media and aggression remains complex and multifaceted, a growing body of research suggests a significant link between exposure to violent media, including computer games, and increased aggressive tendencies. This essay will delve into the theoretical frameworks underpinning this connection, examine the empirical evidence, and explore the factors that moderate the effects of media violence.

II. The Role of Media in Shaping Behavior
The influence of media on behavior is a topic that has fascinated scholars for decades. Various theories attempt to explain how media shapes individual attitudes and behaviors. One prominent theory is social learning theory (Bandura, 1977), which proposes that individuals learn new behaviors through observation and imitation. In the context of media, this means that children and adults can learn aggressive behaviors by observing them in movies, television shows, or video games. For instance, a child watching a violent cartoon might be more likely to engage in aggressive play after witnessing the violent actions of the characters.

Another influential framework is cultivation theory (Gerbner et al., 1986), which argues that exposure to media, particularly television, can cultivate perceptions of reality that align with the messages presented. This theory highlights how heavy media consumption, especially of genres like action films and violent video games, can lead individuals to believe that the world is a more dangerous and violent place than it actually is. This distorted perception, in turn, can contribute to an increased tolerance for violence and a greater likelihood of engaging in aggressive behaviors.

III. Effects of Violent Media
Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between violent media consumption and aggressive behavior. A meta-analysis by Anderson et al. (2010) reviewed over 400 studies and concluded that there is a significant and consistent association between exposure to violent media and increased aggression. This association holds true for a variety of forms of aggression, including physical, verbal, and relational aggression. The studies examined in this meta-analysis considered multiple forms of violent media, including television, movies, and video games.

The results suggest that exposure to violent media can increase aggression in several ways. Firstly, it can induce desensitization, making individuals less emotionally affected by violence and more likely to engage in aggressive acts. Secondly, violent media can prompt aggressive thoughts and feelings by activating existing aggressive schemas or priming individuals to interpret ambiguous situations in a hostile manner. Finally, violent media can provide models for aggressive behavior, teaching viewers how to engage in violent acts and making them more likely to imitate those behaviors.

IV. The Specific Effects of Violent Video Games
Violent video games present a unique challenge due to their interactive nature, which allows players to actively participate in violence and experience its consequences. The immersive nature of these games can enhance the likelihood of learning and rehearsing aggressive behaviors. Additionally, video games often incorporate a reward system for aggressive actions, further reinforcing violent behaviors.

Studies on violent video games have shown that they can induce a desensitization effect, making players less sensitive to the suffering of others. For example, a study by Bushman and Anderson (2001) found that participants who played a violent video game were less likely to help a person in need than those who played a non-violent game. This desensitization can lead to increased tolerance for violence and a reduced likelihood of intervening in situations of aggression.

Furthermore, violent video games can trigger aggressive priming, activating aggressive thoughts and schemas in players' minds. This priming effect can make players more likely to interpret ambiguous situations in a hostile manner and react more aggressively to provocations. For instance, studies have shown that individuals who play violent video games exhibit increased aggression in laboratory settings, such as in a task involving delivering noise blasts to an opponent (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).

V. Factors that Moderate the Effects of Media Violence
While the evidence for the link between media violence and aggression is strong, it's important to note that this relationship is not deterministic. The influence of media violence is moderated by a number of factors, including individual, social, and situational variables.

Individual factors that influence the effects of media violence include age, gender, personality traits, and pre-existing levels of aggression. For example, younger children are more susceptible to the influence of violent media due to their underdeveloped cognitive abilities and limited capacity to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Similarly, individuals with aggressive personality traits, such as impulsivity and hostility, are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior after exposure to violent media.

Social factors, such as parental mediation and peer influences, can moderate the effects of media violence. Parents who actively discuss media content with their children and set limits on media consumption can mitigate the negative effects of exposure to violence. Conversely, peer groups that endorse violence can increase the likelihood of aggressive behaviors.

Situational factors, including the context in which media violence is consumed, also play a role. For instance, watching a violent movie in a group setting with peers can amplify the effects of media violence compared to watching it alone. Additionally, the presence of real-world stressors, such as bullying or family conflict, can increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior in individuals who have been exposed to violent media.

VI. Ethical Implications and Practical Recommendations
The potential influence of media violence on aggressive behavior raises ethical concerns and necessitates responsible action. Parental control mechanisms, such as media rating systems and parental lock features, can help restrict children's access to violent content. Media literacy programs can empower individuals to critically analyze media messages and develop a healthy understanding of the relationship between media and behavior.

Responsible media content creation is crucial to minimizing the potential negative effects of media violence. This includes promoting prosocial values and messages, depicting the consequences of aggression, and avoiding gratuitous violence. Furthermore, the media industry should implement stricter content guidelines and ethical standards to ensure that violent content is presented responsibly.

VII. Conclusion
The evidence overwhelmingly suggests a connection between exposure to violent media, including computer games, and increased aggression. This relationship is complex and influenced by a multitude of factors, including individual characteristics, social contexts, and the specific nature of the violent content. While further research is needed to fully understand the nuances of media violence and its effects, it is essential to acknowledge its potential negative influences and take proactive steps to mitigate its impact. Responsible media consumption, parental guidance, and media literacy initiatives are crucial in fostering a media landscape that promotes healthy development and minimizes the risks associated with violent content.

References:

Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of media violence on aggression: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353-359.
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). The effects of violent video games on aggression: A critical review of the literature. Psychological Science, 13(4), 331-337.
Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, S., Ihori, N., & Bushman, B. J. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, hostility, and prosocial behavior in the laboratory and in life: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151-173.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bushman, B. J., & Anderson, C. A. (2001). Violent video games and hostile behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(4), 160-163.
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., Signorielli, N., & Jackson-Beeck, M. (1986). Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects (pp. 17-40). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


Please note: This is a sample essay outline and introduction. You should conduct further research and expand on the points outlined here to develop a comprehensive and well-supported essay for your A-Level Psychology coursework. It is also crucial to cite specific studies and research findings related to the effects of media violence and computer game usage.

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