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Media Effects Research

jeremy | Thursday June 28, 2012

Categories: Theory, Audience Theory

Before we look at an example it is important to consider some criticisms of effects research in general.

It is argued that because the research sets out to prove a link exists the findings of effects research are not valid. The idea is that you must already accept that the link exists to try and find it (like you can only have a witch-hunt if you believe in witches).

Also, if a link has not been proven in 60 years of studying then maybe there isn’t one.

Bandura & Bobo The Doll

The experiment was conducted in laboratory conditions so that the environment could be controlled. One group of children were shown a video in which an adult strikes a doll with a mallet. The control group were shown a neutral video. Both groups of children were then placed in a room containing (amongst other things) a mallet and an identical doll to the one used in the video. It was found that those children who had seen the ‘violent’ video were more likely to strike the doll. The experimenters concluded that this demonstrated that watching violence makes us more likely to be violent.

Criticisms

  1. Experimenter expectation: the children believed that they were supposed to strike the doll.
  2. Striking a doll with a hammer is not violence – it is not the equivalent of copying an assault on a person.
  3. Can an experiment replicate real life?
  4. The effects are short term.
  5. Media products rarely show violence that is not punished.

Note | There are lots of other experiments, many of which are not as methodologically flawed as Bandura’s, however, the more effective the methodology the less conclusive the results have been.

Desensitisation

Long term or heavy use of violent media products makes you less likely to be shocked by violence. As you are less shocked by violence you are more likely to behave violently yourself.

According to Eysenck and Nias, man has erected barriers to violent and sexual impulses and these have been internalised through conditioning....


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