11 Media and Game Violence

(Pictured: Video Game Violence) 

Based on Research by L. Rowell Huesmann, Ph.D. and Albert Bandura, Ph.D. Psychology Science Minute written by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D.

Psychology Science Minute brought to you by the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.

Should the Supreme Court have overturned California’s law to ban selling ultraviolent violent video games to minors?

For years psychological science has helped us understand the consequences of watching violence.  Dr. Albert Bandura’s 1961 classic Bobo doll experiments found that when preschool children saw an adult commit violent acts towards a doll, they were more likely to copy the same violent acts when allowed to play with the doll.  They copied violent acts even if they saw them in a movie or TV show.  Other studies show that nursery school children actually engage in more physical fights during recess after watching aggressive videos in comparison to children who watched nonviolent videos.

Longitudinal studies over 20 years indicate that 6-10 years old children who watch more TV, prefer more violent programs and identify more with the violent characters are more likely as adults to have committed interpersonal crimes of domestic violence and murder.

Bandura explained aggressive behaviors in several ways. 1. We learn new behaviors by watching others 2. Watching may lower our inhibitions to refrain from violent acts or desensitize us to violence.  3. If the behavior is something we’ve done before, TV may just elicit our own behavior.

So the next time you purchase a video game or movie for your child, give thought to its aggressive models and its impact on children.

That’s your Florida Tech Psychology Science Minute. I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.


Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S.A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575-582.

Huesmann, L. R.,  Moise-Titus, J., Podolski, C, Eron, L. D.( 2003). Longitudinal relations between childhood exposure to media violence and adult aggression and violence: 1977-1992. Developmental Psychology, Vol 39(2), 201-221.

Paik, H. and Comstock, G. (1994). “The Effects of Television Violence on Antisocial Behavior: A Meta-Analysis,” Communication Research, 21:4, 516–546.

Steur, F.B., Applefield, J.M, and Smith, R. (1971). Televised aggression and the interpersonal aggression of preschool children.  Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 11, 3, 442-447.


Johnson, M.S.N. (1996). Television violence and its effect on children.  Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 11, 2, pp 94-99.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Key facts on TV violence: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/Key-Facts-TV-Violence.pdf

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