Correlational Violence…Research finds that media violence simply does not correlate with actual societal violence

Posted: 6 January, 2015 in Research
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Call Duty Advanced Warfare Xbox Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When

By Christopher J. Ferguson*

Abstract

This article presents 2 studies of the association of media violence rates with societal violence rates. In the first study, movie violence and homicide rates are examined across the 20th century and into the 21st (1920 – 2005). Throughout the mid-20th century small-to-moderate correlational relationships can be observed between movie violence and homicide rates in the United States. This trend reversed in the early and latter 20th century, with movie violence rates inversely related to homicide rates. In the second study, videogame violence consumption is examined against youth violence rates in the previous 2 decades. Videogame consumption is associated with a decline in youth violence rates. Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates.

Research, led by psychologist Christopher Ferguson and published in the Journal of Communication , has found that there was no link between violent media and behaviour and has also questioned the methodology of previous studies suggesting the two were related.

Ferguson and his team point out that many laboratory-based studies into the effect of media violence have measured aggression in test subjects through less aggressive outcomes ranging from filling in the missing letters of words through delivering nonpainful noise bursts to a consenting opponent.

The study points out that these studies also commonly provide exposure to brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences and that the resultant aggressive behaviors are also outside a real-world context in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves.

In the first of two historical studies the researchers examined the correlation of violent films and societal violence, analysing the frequency of violent acts in the top-grossing titles between 1920 and 2005.

The study notes that film violence followed a rough U pattern during this time period, but that societal violence fluctuated differently, with the latter half of the 20th century even showing an increase in film violence associated with reduced societal violence .

A second study into video game violence used data from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to estimate the violent content of popular games from 1996 to 2011. This was then compared with data on youth violence during the same years, with the study finding a correlation between falling youth violence and the popularity of violent games.

During this time period youth violence dropped precipitously , despite maintaining very high levels of media violence in society with the introduction of videogames.

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Comments
  1. terry33 says:

    His article fails to take into consideration the fact that the incarceration rate has increased 500%. Perhaps taking so many violent criminals off the streets has had an effect?

    No one is arguing that violent media is the only cause (or even a main cause) of real life violence. Real-life violence has many causes, so many factors will effect the violent crime rate.

    http://tvsmarter.com/documents/aggression.html