"Bio-psycho-social’ explanations of behaviour Essay Example

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Media Violence (4)

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How does media violence affect our behaviour?

Media violence is generally what most people see on television, movies, and experience in video games showing horrible or violent criminal acts such as killing, carnage, rape, and other shocking atrocities. According to Carnagey et al. (2007), these are those media presentations that increase psychological arousal that can amplify viewers’ aggressive thoughts and other unpleasant behaviour (p.179).

The social concern over media violence particularly on its harmful effects on children have been around for years as some studies shows that such media presentations are often linked to viewer’s short and long term violent behaviour (Carnagey et al., 2000, p.179). In violent video games for instance, even short exposure can lead to increased aggression and those that were exposed to such violence for a long time often becomes aggressive through their lifetime (Anderson 2004, p.2). The problem with media violence is its influencing effect on the different aspects of a person’s internal state that can result to arousal induced aggression or reduced physiological sensitivity when exposed to violence in a later time (Carnagey 2007, p. 180).

Another problem is the reality that human beings are social creatures who often responds to the power of social situations and affected by what we watch and read (Social Psychology Chapter 7, p, 33-34 <<<maybe you have the author). The copycat crimes for instance, are violent acts imitated from movies, television, and video games (Potter 2003, 32) indicating the people particularly children and young adults are responding to situations by which at their age seems a reality of life.

The effects of medial violence according to Potter (2003) can be immediate or long-term and it can be behaviours, physiological, emotional, attitudinal, cognitive, and societal (p.33). Moreover, contrary to watching non-violent media, violent scenes activate regions of the brain that processes emotional stimuli, memory encoding, and motor programming which in other words can negatively affects our thoughts and feelings (Carnagey et al. 2007, p.180). The real danger however is when people’s copying behaviour takes place and energized by the violence presented on media which can either result to change of attitude or motivation to commit the same act (Potter 2003, p.36-40).

In the short term, some of negative effects of medial violence include short-lived copying behaviour, sudden change of behaviour stimulated by violent or aggressive media presentation, disinhibition or reduced reactivity to violence, attraction to more violent media, high blood pressure and heart rate, fear, and desensitization of normal emotional responses. The long-term negative effects are in general extensions of these short-term effects with the exception of continuous crave for arousal that often results to drug use (Potter 2003, 40-47).

However, although media violence results to unfavourable outcome for some does not necessarily harmful to everyone. This is because the same studies that presented its negative effects also cited various positive conditions resulting to media violence exposure such as catharsis or temporary release of aggressive drive and higher physiological tolerance to such kind of situation (Potter 2003, p.42). Anderson (2004) also noted that due to the confusion between causality and correlation, absence of necessary and sufficient factor, and misinterpretation of research report some positive outcomes of such media exposure are concealed (p.4). For instance, a lot of people one way or another was exposed to media violence but still a large majority of population are good citizens.

Media violence does affect our behaviour in a number of ways but it does not necessarily negative or distressing all the time. Children may be no doubt more vulnerable to these exposure but again not all are necessarily affected. Similarly, some adults may be affected but not entirely of media violence. This is because it is also possible that they already have the tendencies as discussed by Anderson (2007) in his analysis of video games wherein scientific facts are pointing to risk factors such as history of violence, psychological disorders, and others as common contributors to violent behaviour (p.4).

If one would analyse this using psychology’s level of analysis, it will be easier to understand the influence of media violence on people. For instance, in the biological level one can say at it did in some way affects people’s brain processes similar to other influencing factors around us. Our thoughts, feelings, and motivation are affected by media violence such as fear, aggression if one would become so psychological involved with it, and amused if one would see it as pure entertainment like anybody else. Environmentally, does our culture easily influenced by these violence or it is a norm that affects our behaviour (Individual Society Chapter 1, p, 4-5 <<<maybe you have the author).

In the same manner, knowledge of correlation and causation can greatly enhance our understanding of the issue and as mentioned earlier, “causality is probabilistic rather necessary and sufficient” (Anderson 2004, p.3) and therefore not applicable to all. Similarly, correlation is relationship between two or more things but does not necessarily mean it is a relation between cause and effect or media violence affecting all children negatively (Individual Society Chapter 1, p.46) <<< Author. Understanding how media violence can affect our behaviour thus requires a number of considerations and careful examination of the data and information being suggested by numerous studies because it is always important to know the truth.


Anderson C, (2004), Violence in the media: Its effects on children, Presentation for the Victorian Parenting Centre & Young Media Australia: Issues in Parenting Education, September 11, 2003

Anderson C, (2007), “The video game industry has been lax in its responsibilities”, Focus, September Issue, 180, p.3

Carnagey N, Anderson L, & Bartholow D, (2007), Medial violence and social neuroscience: New questions and new opportunities, Current directions in psychological science, 16, pp.178-182

Potter W, (2003), The 11 myths of media violence, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications, Chapter 2 – Myth 1- Violence in the media does not affect me, but others are at high risk, pp. 31-51.