Television Portrayals and Aggressive Behavior.

by George A. Comstock


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Reviews what research evidence suggests about the specific attributes of portrayals which play a positive or negative role in affecting aggressive behavior. Specifically: (1) Cartoon as well as live portrayals of violence can lead to aggressive performance by the viewer. (2) Repeated exposure does not eliminate the possibility that new exposure will increase the likelihood of aggressive performance. (3) Aggressive performance is not dependent on atypical frustration, although frustration facilitates aggressive performance. (4) Although the "effect" in some experiments may be aggressive but not antisocial play, implications in regard to the contribution of television violence to antisocial aggression remain. (5) The factors in a portrayal which increase the likelihood of aggressive performance are the suggestion that aggression is justified, socially acceptable, motivated by malice, or pays off. (6) Exposure to violent television portrayals may desensitize young persons to responding to violence in their environment. Present research results not in firm conclusions but in hypotheses for which there is some empirical support. 15 pp. Ref.

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