Television Violence Essay

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Television violence and its effects on viewers has been a controversial issue for many years. Some viewers believe that there is an increasingly large amount of violence on television and this widespread public concern has "led to calls for stricter controls on the depiction of violence in programmes" (Gunter and McAleer 1990:92). Exactly how much violence is there on television though?

Many cultivation theorists have studied this, acquiring data in the form of content analysis. They agree on a definition of a violent act, for example Gerbner in his study used the definition, "an overt expression of physical force against self or other, compelling action against ones will on pain of being hurt or killed, or actually
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It is clearly obvious from the research already done concerning television and its effects, that violence is quite prevalent on British television. Of more concern however is the effect that those can have on its viewers. Does the violence on television really increase the violent attitudes and behaviour in individuals? Violence on television can do one of three things. The first is make us more violent (Huesmann 1982), the second is make us less violent (Feshbach 1972) and the third is to have no effect at all (Freedman 1984, Kaplan and Singer 1976). Most evidence has supported the first argument namely that television violence does increase our own violent behaviour. There are four main effects that cause this violent behaviour when viewing it on television.

The first of these affects is arousal. It is believed that a violent programme increases levels of arousal and thus causes us to become more violent as we are not only excited by the programme but also agitated and nervous. This effect is not limited to violent programmes however, as a comedy programme may induce arousal in the form of amusement in the same way as a violent programme induces arousal in the form of anger. It is the type of arousal that occurs in the first place that determines the effect the programme has. Condry (1989:11) found that suspense programmes, comedy programmes and sport events
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