Effect of media violence larger in normal societies than war-torn societies


A new research by the department of psychology at Iowa State University offers convincing evidence that media violence affects aggressive behavior.

This first-of-its-kind study, led by Craig Anderson, a Distinguished Professor of psychology at Iowa State University, confirms six decades of research showing the effect is the same, regardless of culture.

The research by Craig Anderson and a team shows that the effect of media violence was larger than all other risk factors, except peer delinquency. The effect of media violence was significant even after controlling for several risk factors.

The paper  published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin identified many key findings from the study. Violent media use was positively and significantly related to aggressive behavior in all countries like Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Romania and the United States. The paper said that the media violence remained significant even after controlling for other risk factors.

“This is strong evidence that the main psychological processes that cause repeated media violence exposure to lead to increased aggressiveness are essentially the same across cultures, at least during normal times,” Anderson said. “However, we believe that local cultural and social conditions may influence such processes when those conditions are more extreme.”

Anderson went on to explain that in war-torn societies, media violence exposure might have heightened effects due to the real violence children and teens experience daily. On the other hand, the media violence effect could be smaller in such extreme conditions.  

Researchers surveyed 2,154 adolescents and young adults in Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Romania and the United States. The average age was 21 years old and 38 percent of participants were male. Researchers asked participants to list their most frequently watched or played TV shows, movies and video games, and to rate the level of violence. They also collected data on aggressive behavior and empathy.


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