The Evidence on Television Violence.

by George A. Comstock

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Evaluates the evidence on whether violent television entertainment contributes to greater aggressiveness by young viewers. Laboratory experiments using both nursery school children and college-age subjects demonstrate that exposure to television violence increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior immediately subsequent to viewing. The Surgeon General's study in 1972 added surveys demonstrating a positive correlation between viewing of TV violence and aggression among adolescents. Many varied types of empirical evidence lead to the tentative conclusion that television violence does indeed increase aggressiveness on the part of young viewers but it tells us nothing about the degree of criminal anti-social behavior attributable to television. There are some experimental findings suggesting that viewing TV violence desensitizes viewers to real-life violence. Surveys indicate that heavy viewers consistently perceive the world more in line with that portrayed in TV drama than lighter viewers, suggesting that viewing TV violence creates an impression of the world that is both false and fear-provoking. 14 pp. Ref.

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