.. that the viewing environment set up in experiments is artificial and cannot be generalised to real-world television experiences. This is an important point since, as already mentioned, according to the social learning theory a key determinant of the likelihood to model behaviour is the extent to which a child can identify with a particular model. This is supported by research illustrating an effect of realistically filmed violence on children`s levels of aggression and no effect when unrealistically filmed violence was viewed by children. (Noble, 1973). An explanation for performance of modelled aggression during laboratory experiments could be explained by experimental demands for imitation rather than aggressiveness per se.
Friedrich-Cofer and Huston maintain that although such demand may occur, there is no evidence that it accounts for the effects of violent television. On the contrary, their work found that violent television is more likely to produce aggressive behaviour when the experimenter leaves the child alone than when the adult remains during the test for aggression. (Stein & Friedrich, 1975). It has also been argued that the stimuli used in laboratory experiments were not typical of normal program viewing. Most children`s television diet consists of pro-social as well as aggressive models.
It is therefore difficult to isolate the effects of violent television programs on children. However, content analyses have shown that since 1968 there have been 5 or 6 incidents of violence per hour in prime television and 15 to 16 incidents per hour in cartoons (Signorielli, Gross, & Morgan, 1982) This suggests that laboratory studies do not misrepresent levels of violence shown to children in the real world. This concern is however legitimate and should be investigated in further research. While concerns remain over the atypical nature of stimuli, strong arguments exist to support the studies conducted within the social learning framework . Friedrich-Cofer, et al., maintain that the potential biases in the laboratory method are both positive and negative. On one hand, the effects of television violence could be magnified since the effects of other variables are minimised (eg pro social models).
On the other hand however, effects could be underestimated as stimuli used in laboratory experiments are brief and often less violent than the programs typically viewed on television. Researches have consistently shown a genetic influence on aggression. (Miles, & Carey, 1977; Carey, 1994; Bouchard, & McGue 1990). A potential weakness in research emphasising the importance of environmental influences, such as television on aggression, is that biological and genetic evidence could be ignored. From a biological perspective, it may be that children who are predisposed to aggression watch violent television. That is, there could be a bidirectional relationship between violence viewed on television and levels of aggression in children.
(Freedman, 1984). This perspective is consistent with the arousal theory of human aggression. This states that aggressive individuals are internally under aroused and therefore seek compensatory stimulation from their external environment. It is this need for extra stimulation which leads the individual to become more aggressive. This criticism has been addressed by Friedrich-Cofer et al., on two levels.
Firstly, random assignment of subjects to treatments ensures that any differences shown between groups are not a function of other unmeasurable variables such as naturally occurring violent tendencies. Secondly, the theory and research supporting a bidirectional relationship between television violence and aggression is consistent with social learning theories which articulate the reciprocal effects of environmental variables and qualities of the individual. (Mischel, 1979). Independent assessment of each direction of causality supports the conclusion that there is a small though positive correlation between viewing violent television and later aggressive behaviour (Fredrich-Cofer et al.). In conclusion, the weight of social learning theory and convergent evidence supports the likelihood that television contributes to aggression in many children. Social learning is great Should consider evidence presented with policy making and also maybe in terms of behaviour modification.
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