Article

Why It Is Hard To Believe That Media Violence Causes Aggression

L. Rowell Huesmann, Eric F. Dubow and Grace Yang

in The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398809
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195398809.013.0009

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Why It Is Hard To Believe That Media Violence Causes Aggression

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Research studies on how media violence influences aggressive and violent behaviors face unusual hurdles in having an impact on the public, journalists, and even other scientists. Despite the existence of compelling empirical evidence that media violence causes increased aggression in the observer or game player, intelligent people still doubt the effects. A fundamental reason is that the outcomes of such research have implications not only for public policy, but also for how one views oneself. Through several well-understood psychological processes, this leads to many people denying the results of the scientific research. There are four psychological processes that together can account for most denials of media violence effects: (1) the need for cognitive consistency; (2) reactance; (3) the “third-person effect”; and (4) desensitization. This chapter illustrates how these processes lead to disbelief. Finally, it offers conclusions and ideas for future directions of how research may contribute to public opinion and public policy.

Keywords: media violence; psychological processes; public perceptions of research; violent video games

Article.  9819 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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