Glorifying (and Selling) Guns

"The demand for assault rifles among people who, in many cases, had not previously owned or fired one can be attributed to the popular culture depictions of the weapon in movies, its numerous mentions in national and international news reports, and a paranoid narrative about government control of weapons and losing constitutional freedoms."  -  Raw Story (March 2013)

"The Glock story offers an apt case study for how gun manufacturers use shoot-em-up flicks to flog their brands. In Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, reporter Paul Barrett argues that the ubiquity of the Austrian pistol was in part a consequence of the business boom Smith & Wesson experienced after its .44 Magnum was treated to its extended Clint Eastwood soliloquy. Glock, Barrett explained, wanted "its Dirty Harry moment."... On screen, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke flicks touted a Glock's (nonexistent) ability to avoid metal detectors. Tommy Lee Jones contrasted the weapon with "sissy pistols" while extolling its all-weather durability to Robert Downey Jr. in 1998's U.S. Marshals. Pretty soon, the gun was everywhere. In 2010, Brandchannel, a website dedicated to spotting product placement, gave Glock a lifetime achievement award after it appeared in more than 15 percent of that year's box-office-topping films."  -  Mother Jones (Jan 2013)

"As improbable as it sounds, there's an important moment in the '98 thriller U.S. Marshals. In the middle of their introduction, Tommy Lee Jones throws Robert Downey Jr. a withering stare and snarls: ''Get yourself a Glock. Lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol.''

It's a throwaway line in a subpar movie, but it serves as a reminder of one of Hollywood's dirtiest little secrets — that, just like chips or beer, guns get product placement. In fact, for years now, the adversarial gun and film industries have indirectly been in business together, using each other to sell their products even as they cudgel one another on the op-ed pages.

It shouldn't be surprising. By common estimate, approximately 60 percent of Hollywood films feature at least one firearm, and they're almost always recognizable brands. And while it's no secret that movies have long used guns to sell tickets, few know that the placement of guns in films can have a direct effect on firearm sales.

''The .44 Magnum Model 29 is the classic example,'' explains Andrew Molchan, director of the National Association of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers. ''It was a slow-selling, overly powerful handgun, then Dirty Harry happened [in 1971] and sales exploded. It just goes to show how powerful this kind of advertising can be.''"  -  Entertainment Weekly (June 1999)

"High gun ownership makes countries less safe, US study finds"  -  The Guardian (Sept 2013)

"In region- and state-level analyses, a robust association between rates of household firearm ownership and homicide was found."  -  NCBI (Dec 2002)

The Influence of Media Violence on Youth

"The report takes sharp aim at the notion that aggression is not bad. Most studies define "aggression" as behavior intended to harm another person. So when Tiger Woods attempts to drive the green on a short par-4, that wouldn't meet the psychological definition of aggression. Some critics of research on media and aggression suggest that research shows only "aggressive thoughts" or "aggressive beliefs," but in fact this report takes care to refer to "aggression" only when describing actual aggressive behavior." - Cognitive Daily - The influence of media violence on youth - Part 1

Cognitive Daily - The influence of media violence on youth - Part 2

Cognitive Daily - The influence of media violence on youth - Part 3

Cognitive Daily - What watching violent movies does to kids' brains

The influence of media violence on youth - Report (pdf)

Websites on Media Violence

Common Sense Media


Media Violence Resource Center

Violent TV and Aggression - Two Theories

"What happens when a child is exposed to violent entertainment? Two theories are helpful in answering that question. One, social cognitive theory (formerly called social learning), posits that children learn ideas, values, emotions, and even behaviors by observing others in their social environment.75 Children can imitate people in their immediate surroundings or they can imitate characters in the media. Indeed, children as young as one are capable of imitating simple behaviors displayed on television.76 According to social learning theory, children are more likely to imitate observed behaviors that are rewarded than those that are punished.77 Children will also imitate behaviors that produce no consequences because, especially in the case of antisocial acts, the lack of punishment can serve as a tacit reward.78 The type of media role model also makes a difference. Children are most likely to learn from models that are attractive and from those they perceive as similar to themselves.79"

"Social cognitive theory, then, helps explain how children can acquire new behaviors from watching a media character on the screen. Rowell Huesmann uses a second theory, information processing theory, to explain the long-term effects of media exposure. Focusing on the learning of scripts—mental routines for familiar events that are stored in a person's memory—Huesmann theorizes that children develop scripts for bedtime routines, for going to the doctor, and even for getting ready for school.80 He argues that a child who is exposed to a great deal of violence, either in real life or through the media, will acquire scripts that promote aggression as a way of solving problems. Once learned, these scripts can be retrieved from memory at any time, especially when the situation at hand resembles features of the script. The more often an aggressive script is retrieved, the more it is reinforced and becomes applicable to a wider set of circumstances. Thus, children who are repeatedly exposed to media violence develop a stable set of aggressive scripts that are easily prompted and serve as a guide in responding to social situations."

- The Future Of Children - Princeton Brookings

Why Violent TV Increases Aggression - Quick Overview

"47% of violent television programs show the victim going unharmed, especially in cartoons.

73% of individuals who commit crimes in cartoons and children's shows go unpunished in violent scenes

Violence is a good way to solve problems.

Television creates heroes out of the people who commit the crimes

Television reduces the value of life

Children cannot tell the difference between real and unreal." - ThinkQuest

"Why do media have the effects they do? Let's consider several explanations." - (2009)

Normalizing Violence

"Are Imaginary Social Norms Increasing School Violence? Students may be overestimating how much their peers condone aggression "  -  Psychology Today (March 2013)

"The more children are exposed to violence, the more they think it's normal, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE). Unfortunately, the more they think violence is normal, the more likely they are to engage in aggression against others."  -  Science Daily (March 2011)

Why Violent TV Increases Aggression - Violent Scripts

"According to Huesmann, the process through which scripts are formed is a learning process involving both observational and enactive components. The primary learning process is one in which the child observes sequences of behavior by others and encodes these sequences into a cognitive script. This is observational learning. The secondary learning process occurs when the child utilizes this script to guide his or her own behavior and is reinforced (positively or negatively) for the resulting response. This is enactive learning. Both learning processes may alter the structure of a script, affect the strength with which it is encoded, and its connections to other elements in the child's cognitive schema. Cognitive rehearsal of a script will also strengthen its encoding and connectedness. Furthermore, through a process of cognitive abstraction, subsets of learned scripts may be converted into more general scripts that provide overall guiding principles for social behavior. Thus, the scripts that guide the child into "childish" aggressive behavior form the basis for a set of more general scripts guiding the adult into adult "aggressive" behavior.

It is clear that, according to this theory, the child's observation of dramatic or real violence in childhood could contribute to the construction of lasting cognitive structures that would affect the child's behavior in childhood and when he or she was grown. The theory suggests, however, that the role for adult exposure to media violence in the learning of aggressive behavior is limited. Scripts for social behavior may still be learned during adulthood, but we adopt the developmental perspective that scripts learned early are the most influential. In practical terms this means that the theory predicts little relation between adult aggression and an adult's exposure to media violence but a significant relation between childhood exposure and childhood aggression. Furthermore, childhood exposure to media violence should be related to adult aggression to the extent that childhood aggression is related to adult aggression." - University of Illinois (Chapter 7)

Violent TV/Video Games and Aggression - GAM and GAAM

General Aggression Model (GAM)  - Wiley Online Library (Dec 2012)

General Affective Aggression Model (GAAM)  - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (April 2000)

George Gerbner - Cultivation Theory

Atlantic Monthly article about George Gerbner "The Man Who Counts the Killings"

Atlantic Monthly article about George Gerbner "A Culture of Violence"


"Other research has found that young people who engage in cyberbullying have less empathy  (defined as sharing another person’s emotional state) than students not involved in cyberbullying (Steffgen, Konig, Pfetsch, & Melzer, 2010)." - Psychology Today (April 2013)

"In a study of over 700 American children, Gianluca Gini and his colleagues found that bullies, despite being quite competent at reasoning about beliefs, outcomes, and the moral permissibility of different actions, were "woefully deficient" in moral compassion compared to victims and children who defend victims (Gini et al 2011)." - Parenting Science (March 2013)

"Could A Lack Of Empathy Explain Cruelty?" - NPR (Sept 2011)

"Evil comes from empathy erosion and "turning people into objects."" - Psychology Today (June 2011)

"Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty" - The Independent (April 2011)

"Viewing media violence increases aggressive behavior and decreases empathy." - Psychology Today (August 2010)

"College students today are significantly less empathic than students of the 80's or 90's, according to a new study by the University of Michigan. The 30-year longitudinal study of nearly 14,000 students found a 40% drop in empathy from the late 70's, with the sharpest decline occurring after the year 2000." -  Psychology Today (May 2010)  and  Science Daily (May 2010)  and  Scientific American (Jan 2011)  and  The New York Times (June 2010) 

"Cross-lagged panel analyses showed significant pathways from T1 media violence usage to higher physical aggression and lower empathy at T2." - Science Direct (Feb 2010)

"According to a new study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (the largest ever undertaken of the attitudes and conduct of high school students), half of all high school students (50 percent) admit they bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half (47 percent) say they were bullied, teased, or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in the past year. The study reports the responses from 43,321 high school students. The margin of error is less than one percent."  Josephson Institute (2010)

"Half of Sixth-Graders Bullied"  -  LiveScience (March 2005)

Aestheticization of Violence

"Morales argues that "...Tarantino manages to do precisely what Alex de Large was trying to do in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange: he presents violence as a form of expressive art...[in which the]...violence is so physically graceful, visually dazzling and meticulously executed that our instinctual, emotional responses undermine any rational objections we may have. Tarantino is able to transform an object of moral outrage into one of aesthetic beauty...[, in which,] all art forms, the violence serves a communicative purpose apart from its aesthetic value." When the female sword-wielding protagonist "...skillfully slices and dices her way through...[the opposing fighters]...we get a sense that she is using them as a kind of canvas for her expression of revenge...[,] an artist who expresses herself through brush and paint,...[she]...expresses herself through sword and blood."[5]" - Wikipedia


"Selected Publications 2001-2010" - University of Michigan

"Effects of televised violence on aggression" - Handbook of Children and the Media (2001)

"Longitudinal relations between childhood exposure to media violence and adult aggression and violence: 1977-1992" - Developemental Psychology (2003)

"The case against the case against media violence" - Media Violence and Children (2003)

"The influence of media violence on youth" - Psychological Science in the Public Interest (2003)  and  Iawa State (2003)

"A cognitive-ecological model of aggression" - Revue Internationale de PsychologieSociale (2004)

"Imitation and the effects of observing media violence on behavior" - Perspectives on imitation: From neuroscience to social science (2005)

"The role of the mass media in violent behavior" - Annual Review of Public Health, 26 (2006)

"Media effects in middle childhood" - Developmental Context of Middle Childhood: Bridges to Adolescence and Adulthood  (2006)

"Short-term and Long-term Effects of Violent Media on Aggression in Children and Adults" - Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (2006)

"Media and Youth Socialization: Underlying Processes and Moderators of Effects." - The Handbook of Socialization (2006)

"Media and Youth Socialization: Underlying Processes and Moderators of Effects." - The Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression (2007)

"The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research" - Journal of Adolescent Health (2007)

"Violence as media content: Effects on children" - The International Encyclopedia of Communication (2008)

"Continuity of Aggression from Childhood to Early Adulthood as a Predictor of Life Outcomes: Implications for the Adolescent-Limited and Life-Course-Persistent Models." - Aggressive Behavior (2009)

"The role of violent media preference in cumulative developmental risk for violence and general aggression" - Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2009)

"Violent media effects" - Media processes and effects (2009)

"The effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behaviors: International evidence from correlational, longitudinal, and experimental studies" - Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2009)

"Aggression" - Handbook of social psychology  (2010)

"Nailing the coffin shut on doubts that violent video games stimulate aggression: Comment on Anderson" - Psychological Bulletin (2010)

"Desensitization to media violence: Antecedents, consequences, and content specificity" - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2011)

Increased TV Leading to Increased Isolation Leading to Increased Aggression?

"In 1985, when researchers asked a cross-section of Americans how many confidants they had, the most common response was three. When they asked again in 2004, the most common answer -- from 25% of respondents -- was zero, nil, nada." - The Los Angeles Times (Feb 2009)

"Teens who spend more time watching television or using computers appear to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine..." - EurekAlert! (March 2010)  and  Science Daily (March 2010)  and  MedPage Today (March 2010)

"In both conditions the isolation reared rats displayed more aggressive behaviours, in particular biting and boxing the partners which did not occur with the socially reared rats." - PubMed (Feb 1996)

"People who feel socially rejected are more likely to see others' actions as hostile and are more likely to behave in hurtful ways toward people they have never even met, according to a new study. The findings may help explain why social exclusion is often linked to aggression – which sometimes boils over dramatically, as in the case of school shootings, for example." - Science Daily (Jan 2009)

Mass Killings

"Yes, Mass Shootings Are Occurring More Often" - Mother Jones (Oct 2014)

"Mass shootings on the increase in U.S." - SFGate (Sept 2014)

"The First Mass School Shooting" - Slate (Dec 2013)

"Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) released a National Sciences Foundation advisory committee report that identified violent media as one of three major risk factors associated with mass shootings." - Broadcasting & Cable (Feb 2013)  and  Report of the Subcommittee on Youth Violence of the Advisory Committee to the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, National Science Foundation (Feb 2013)

"How many, indeed? There have been 62 public shootings in the last 30 years, according to an article in Mother Jones. Before Newtown there had been six mass shootings this year alone. We now have them more often than we have presidential elections, more often than we have the Olympics and the Grammy awards."

"The public shootings began in the 1980s. There were two gun massacres in the two decades before Ronald Reagan took office, one in 1966 and one a decade later. There were, by some estimates, more than 30 mass killings during his time in office alone."

"There were mass shooting prior to this, but they were mostly rational acts of violence, not random rage murders. On February 14, 1929, for instance, seven men were machine gunned to death in Chicago. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, while horrific, was a very a simple case of mobsters murdering rivals during Prohibition in order to retaliate for an earlier attempt to control the city’s bootlegging business."  -  Washington Monthly (Dec 2012)

"Mass shootings in the US are on the rise" - Mother Jones (Dec 2012)

Mass Killings and Fame

"Both rampage killers and terrorists are motivated by the desire to broadcast their complaints—and to become famous for the grand scale of the carnage they cause. Rampage killers and terrorists are motivated by media attention." - Psychology Today (Dec 2013)

"On MNSBC Tuesday, Cullen said he doesn't think that it's realistic to simply scale back coverage, but questioned whether the media needs to always use the gunman's name on air or in print. "You just call him the killer, the perpetrator, the gunman, the suspect, all sorts of different things," Cullen said. "It's very easy to do. We disappear him."" - Huffington Post (Sept 2013)

"Does media coverage of mass shootings inspire copycat crimes?" - ITHP (Feb 2013)

“The American Psychiatric Association agreed with Steele and Coleman in 2007 when, after the shootings at Virginia Tech, it distributed a letter calling on news organizations to stop disseminating the murderer’s self-made promo materials. Such publicity “not only seems insensitive to the grieving and traumatized families, friends and peers of those murdered and injured, but also seriously jeopardizes the public’s safety by potentially inciting ‘copycat’ suicides, homicides and other incidents,” read the statement. The APA cited a World Health Organization Report, saying the “scientific evidence in this area is clear.” The APA also suggested that the assailant may have taken inspiration from “the Columbine tragedy.””  -  Salon (Dec 2012)

“Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he'll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.”  - (Dec 2012)

“We should investigate who the perpetrators were; what kind of families they came from; how they were treated at school by classmates and teachers. And, of course, where they got the guns.  But, I said, we could do all that and simply not reveal their names. Not show their pictures. Not make them famous. Just call them Murderer 1 and Murderer 2. Deny them any kind of personal exposure. Sentence them to a death in absolute obscurity.”  -  Huffingtonpost (Dec 2012)

Individualism, Consumerism, Lack of Trust and Aggression

"The study also shows that people in the middle-aged generation and people who volunteer are associated with an increase in trust, while having conservative ideology and media usage correlate with decreased levels of trust." - E! Science News (March 2010)

"He concluded that people's views about the legitimacy of government and how much they identify with their fellow citizens play a major role in how often they kill each other -- much more so than the usual theories revolving around guns, poverty, drugs, race, or a permissive justice system." - Science Daily (Dec 2009)

"Hall said: “Britain and the US have the worst violent crime rates of the industrialised west – far worse than Western continental Europe – because we have the most competitive, individualist culture and the least developed sense of solidarity and common fate. In addition, consumer culture instils in so many individuals from an early age that their identities are incomplete without the status symbols carried by consumer goods, which of course makes crimes an attractive option for those who simply cannot afford to buy these goods.’’" - Science Daily (Sept 2009)

"When journalist Eric Weiner traveled the world to discover what made some countries happier places than others, he found one primary common denominator among the happiest. The essential ingredient was trust. The happiest countries are those in which people feel they can trust their government, trust social institutions, and trust their neighbors..."  -  Psychology Today (May 2011)

"Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows. Opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb. " - Wall Street Journal (April 2010)

More on the importance of trust:

"Weakness of trust has been identified as a key factor perpetuating the cycle of poverty for the working and self-employed poor of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia." - Psychology Today (July 2013)

"Herrmann and collaborators replicated the previous results in subject pools in the U.S., Australia, England, Switzerland, Germany, China, and South Korea.  However, when they conducted the identical experiment with subjects in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Muscat, they found that the opportunity to punish other group members had much less ability to stave off a decline in contributions, and that the likely cause was that in those subject pools, punishing cooperators was almost as common as punishing non-cooperators.   As a consequence, subjects in the “bad” subject pools earned less in the experiment than did their counterparts in the “good” ones.

It wasn’t lost on the experimenters that people in the countries having “well behaved” subjects also tend to earn more on average in everyday life than do those in the other countries.  Might this have something to do with the quality of social norms?  The researchers speculated that it might indeed.  They presented evidence showing that in the countries in which punishing of cooperators was rampant in the experiment, survey evidence shows that people generally trust one another less, and that measures of the quality of government, for instance absence of corruption, are also lower.  The case could be made, if not fully proven, that subjects carried into the lab with them the norms and expectations regarding others’ willingness to cooperate and not to take advantage of one another that are pervasive in their societies and that go hand in hand with a well-functioning economy and political system." - Psychology Today (Sept 2012)

"The only people who dispute the connection between smoking and cancer are people in the tobacco industry. And the only people who dispute the TV and violence connection are people in the entertainment industry."

- TV researcher Dr. Leonard Eron of the University of Michigan

"The real impact is not so much that violent images create violent behavior, but that they create an atmosphere of disrespect. The kid who sees a violent movie and imitates what he sees is very unusual, but we're seeing pushing, shoving, and hitting among children occurring with increasing frequency. It's a subtle shift, from 'Have a nice day' to 'Make my day.'"

- Dr. David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, on the consequences of media violence.

"Klebold and Harris do not seem to have been inspired by Hitler, as early theories in the press suggested, but by a desire to see their stories told in a Hollywood movie."

-The Washington Times on the motivation for the Columbine killers.

"I think the thing that comes across so often to our young people is the idea that if someone disrespects you, violence is the best solution. By the time you're 21, 22 years old, you've probably seen between 20,000 and 30,000 people blown away on your TV set…. At some point, the tide needs to turn a little bit."

- Tom Osborne, former head coach of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers

"The evidence shows that consistent exposure to stories and scenes of violence and terror can mobilize aggressive tendencies, desensitize some and isolate others, intimidate many and trigger violent action in a few."

-George Gerbner, Violence and Terror in the Mass Media, reprinted in the Vancouver Sun.

Quotes from

Media Violence Increases Aggression - Why so hard to believe?

"While any individual publication can be picked apart and perhaps even dismissed, it is highly unlikely that dozens would skew the same way.   Every month in the medical journals new papers suggest that without skillful management from adults, media influences children for the worse.  Not only behavior but poor sleep, attention problems, obesity and even long term adult lifespan have been linked to screen time.   Much like Nate Silver’s view on the elections, the odds are poor that study after study would randomly reveal these negative effects."  -  Huffington Post (March 2013)

"Why Do People Deny Violent Media Effects? Many people ignore overwhelming scientific evidence on violent media effects."  -  Psychology Today (Feb 2013)

"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 many people denying  the results of the scientific research."  -  The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology (Dec 2012)

TV and Social Aggression

"Children ages 2-11 view an alarming amount of television shows that contain forms of social bullying or social aggression. Physical aggression in television for children is greatly documented, but this is the first in-depth analysis on children's exposure to behaviors like cruel gossiping and manipulation of friendship."  -  Phys Org (Sept 2012) 

"This content analysis investigated 19 live-action children's half-hour sitcoms and discovered the presence of relational aggression and superiority humor, both of which rely on treating other humans as inferior for the sake of a canned laugh track. The television characters in this study seek revenge on each other, intentionally make others look bad or stupid, humiliate peers and parents, and are rarely punished for their mean-spiritedness and cruelty. The children's sitcoms are behavioral blueprints of lies and deceit, as the characters unashamedly cheat others, defraud parents and other adults, and attempt to make peers and teachers look stupid and in the vernacular of the culture, "clueless." Further, stereotypes are not only presented as acceptable, but are reinforced by frequent inclusion into the action. Stereotypes include the brilliant but socially awkward geek (male or female), the blonde bimbo who isn't very intelligent, the unwanted nerdy girlfriend or boyfriend, and the rich teenager who is often female and is uncaring, cold and aloof. This study discovered myriad examples of mean-spiritedness and cruelty on the part of characters in the programs, ranging in frequency from 7 to 31.25 per half-hour episode, averaging 33.75 per hour for all programs viewed."  -  Udini (2011)

"They successfully spread rumours, damage relationships, distort reality, and destroy the reputations..."  -  The Psychologist (Dec 2004)

Increased Aggression Leading to Increased Uncivility

"I might go further. I might say that whether or not specific jurisdictions define self-defense to include a duty to retreat, and whether or not specific juries are charged to apply it, America is quickly becoming one big “stand your ground” state, as a matter of culture if not the letter of the law."  -  Slate (Feb 2014)

"Why Are So Many People in a Blind Rage These Days?"  -  Mother Jones (Oct 2013)

"By studying Midwestern youths, the study found that the more profanity they are exposed to through television and video games, the more accepting they are of swearing and the more likely they are to use profanity themselves. Those kids who swore more were also more likely to engage in physical aggression."  -  Live Science (Oct 2011)

"The ideology of hardness and cruelty runs through American culture like an electric current, sapping the strength of social relations and individual character, moral compassion and collective action, offering up crimes against humanity that become fodder for video games and spectacularized media infotainment, and constructing a culture of cruelty that promotes a pageant of suffering and violence. While much of this violence is passed off as entertainment, it should not be surprising when it travels from the major cultural apparatuses of our time to real life, exploding in front of us, refusing to be seen as just another entertaining spectacle."  -  Truth-Out (Jan 2011)

"College students today are significantly less empathic than students of the 80's or 90's, according to a new study by the University of Michigan. The 30-year longitudinal study of nearly 14,000 students found a 40% drop in empathy from the late 70's, with the sharpest decline occurring after the year 2000." -  Psychology Today (May 2010)  and  Science Daily (May 2010)  and  Scientific American (Jan 2011)  and  The New York Times (June 2010) 

"The "Messin' with Sasquatch" ads for Jack Link's beef jerky were always irritating and pointless, but with this new wave of tragic teen suicide prompted by being bullied to death, these ads are offensive. They are clearly saying it's not only fun to be cruel to someone different, but it's so acceptable that we are going to use the concept to sell our product."  -  Psychology Today (Oct 2010)

"Cross-lagged panel analyses showed significant pathways from T1 media violence usage to higher physical aggression and lower empathy at T2." - Science Direct (Feb 2010)

"According to a new study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (the largest ever undertaken of the attitudes and conduct of high school students), half of all high school students (50 percent) admit they bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half (47 percent) say they were bullied, teased, or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in the past year. The study reports the responses from 43,321 high school students. The margin of error is less than one percent."  Josephson Institute (2010)

"Half of Sixth-Graders Bullied"  -  LiveScience (March 2005)

"They successfully spread rumours, damage relationships, distort reality, and destroy the reputations of those in their inner circle, while appearing the nicest, prettiest, and most popular people in school. (See the boxes

below and on the following pages for further examples of indirect aggression in the media.)"  -   The Psychologist (Dec 2004) 

"Exposure to the gratuitously violent film also produced this effect without provocation by the experimenter. The study showed that prolonged exposure to gratuitously violent films is can escalate hostile behavior in both men and women and instigate such behavior in unprovoked research participants. They determined that the effect is not short lived, but remains for some time after the viewing of the films."  -  Science from Virginia Tech (1999) 


"The Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system fails parents and children in its misuse of the PG-13 rating. According to the association (M.P.A.A.), the rating means parents should be “strongly cautioned” that “material may be inappropriate for children under thirteen,” but PG-13 movies are heavily marketed to preschoolers through commercials, kid’s-meal promotions and toys. To make matters worse, research shows that films rated PG-13 today would have been rated R or “restricted” in the past, which means that young children are exposed to more violence and adult content than ever before."  -  The New York Times (Nov 2013)

"Rate for Violence, Not Sex"  -  The New York Times (Nov 2013)

"Results found that violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13–rated films has more than tripled since 1985. When the PG-13 rating was introduced, these films contained about as much gun violence as G (general audiences) and PG (parental guidance suggested for young children) films. Since 2009, PG-13–rated films have contained as much or more violence as R-rated films (age 17+) films."  -  Pediatrics (Nov 2013)  and  Psychology Today (Nov 2013)  and  Raw Story (Nov 2013)

"In 2006, the Annenberg Public Policy Center  reviewed the top grossing movies since the rating system began.  In fact, they reviewed movies all the way back to 1950. They found that explicit sex and violence had both increased over time, but that “ratings creep” affected only violence. Explicit sex is still reserved for “R” rated films; explicit violence is not."  -  Alternet (Dec 2012) 

"They found higher levels of physical aggression in designated children's programs (rated TV-Y and TV-Y7) than among programs for general audiences (rated TV-G, TV-PG, etc.)." - Science Daily (March 2009)

"In a paper published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers document the alarming numbers of young adolescents age 10-14 who are exposed to graphic violence in movies rated R for violence." - Science Daily (Aug 2008)

"Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children's Television" - Parents Television Council (March 2006)


Peaceful Schools Project Tackles Bullies

"Girl swagger and blood lust: Rihanna, Taylor Swift and repackaging toxic masculinity for a female audience"  -  Salon (July 2015)

"Violence is not a product of mental illness; violence is a product of anger. When we cannot modulate anger, it will control our behavior."  -  Slate (April 2014)

"That puts us fans in a morally queasy position. We not only tolerate this brutality. We sponsor it, just by watching at home. We’re the reason the N.F.L. will earn $5 billion in television revenue alone next year, three times as much as its runner-up, Major League Baseball."  -  The New York Times Magazine (Jan 2014)

"The "Dexter" Murders, The popular TV series has inspired some very bizarre copycat acts."  -  Psychology Today (Jan 2014)

"But there is still a place for movies that suggest all we need to solve our problems is guts and ammo..."  -  Salon (Jan 2014)

"As our society becomes more intent on addressing mental illness and nurturing brain health, each of us can play a vital role by refusing to drink the poison. Don’t view or share violent images, stories, TV shows, films, or video games. Don’t censor-- boycott. Be mindful of how witnessing violence and cruelty influences the human brain, and especially protect the developing brains of youth. I invite you to become a part of the village it takes to stop exposing our brains to violence and cruelty, and imagine a world brimming with respect, kindness, and compassion."  -  Psychology Today (Dec 2013)

"One way of managing disappointment and frustration is to think you’re in a thriller, to assume that setbacks are obstacles put before the hero by nefarious forces. This way of managing setbacks is called paranoia. It has some serious drawbacks. It distances you from other people because, like the hero of a thriller, it’s an outlook that turns all your friends into suspects."  -  Psychology Today (Dec 2013)

"Kit was an anti-hero, if not an outright villain, but Natural Born Killers turns its serial killers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) into folk heroes. Although Stone makes fun of teenagers and the media for extolling the coolness of Mickey and Mallory, his film amounts to an elaborate version of the same thing. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a Charles Manson T-shirt. The Silence of the Lambs may have been a bit more subtle, but its portrayal of Hannibal Lecter had the same effect. When it was released, few people, apart from critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, noted with any alarm that it turned a serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, into a kind of charismatic guru. Sure, he might dine on your liver, the film told us, but he’d do it with wit and sophistication, while revealing to you the secrets of your soul. Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his winning portrayal, and the movie was a blockbuster, the fourth biggest film at the box office that year."  -  Slate (March 2013)

"Why Violent Media Matters. What our children can teach us about the power of media."  -  Psychology Today (Feb 2013)

"Participants who saw the guns were more aggressive than were participants who saw the sports items. This effect was dubbed the “weapons effect.”"  -  Psychology Today (Jan 2013)

"As Americans continue to grieve over Friday’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Hollywood is responding by censoring violent or disturbing content from network programming this week... Four movie premieres have also been canceled or delayed, the latest being Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” originally scheduled for tonight."  -  Salon (Dec 2012) 

"Honour Killing in the South"  -  Psychology Today (April 2012)

"I can’t tell you the number of times I have been approached by TV producers and news media with offers of big money for my vault of crime scene photos and videos. Some have offered to make me famous if I just handed over my most horrible cases. I have been offered my own television series many times, and I have always come to the conclusion that such a thing would be wrong. The victims whose cases I have had the honor to work on are human beings, not bloody paintings for deviant voyeurs. They were daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and spouses when they were cruelly taken. Yet they are not viewed that way. Their deaths are lusted after by an entire industry that descends like locusts when the death is particularly awful. Not only did the killers see these precious humans as objects, but much of the media and the entertainment industry look at them as nothing but dollar signs as well."  -  Psychology Today (April 2012)

"Why is there so much graphic violence in contemporary entertainment? Producers will tell you the answer is simple: because people enjoy it. According to newly published research, the real reason may be: Because it’s easy to market. When it comes to graphic gore, there’s a gap between what whets our appetite and what we actually find satisfying. That’s the conclusion of a study by Indiana University scholars Andrew Weaver and Matthew Kobach, which found students were enticed by descriptions of violent scenes, but actually enjoyed the programs more when those elements were edited out."  -  Pacific Standard (March 2012) 

"Do chimpanzees in the wild want to kill others? Is murder common among wild chimpanzees?"  -  Psychology Today (March 2011)

"Heated political rhetoric can encourage aggressive behavior. "  -  Psychology Today (Feb 2011)

"Collective Efficacy and crime abatement - Can Block Clubs Block Despair?"  -  The American Prospect (April 2007)

Watching Violent TV May Cost Kids Friends - Washington Post (April 2006)

"Regardless of the direction of the effect, however, our results indicate that family interactions (in this case conflictual interactions) are indeed related to the content of electronic media used by children (in this case violent content)."  -  Media Psychology (2005)  and  Taylor Francis Online (2005)

"Studies of the impact of antiviolence media productions reveal that although such efforts can be effective, unanticipated "boomerang" effects are prevalent. Overall, the effectiveness of the 3 types of interventions was highly variable, and age and gender differences were prominent."  -  APA PsyNet (Dec 2003) 

"The evidence is stronger for the influence of reports in the news media than in fictional formats. However, several studies have found dramatic effects of televised portrayals that have led to increased rates of suicide and suicide attempts using the same methods displayed in the shows."  -  SAGE Journals (May 2003) 

"Of the 44 movies rated R for violence the Commission selected for its study, the Commission found that 35, or 80 percent, were targeted to children under 17. Marketing plans for 28 of those 44, or 64 percent, contained express statements that the films target audience included children under 17. Plans for the other seven movies were either extremely similar to the plans of the films that did identify an under-17 target audience, or they detailed plans indicating they were targeting that age group, such as promoting the film in high schools or publications with majority under-17 audiences."  -  FTC (Sept 2000) 

"Stores renting "death videos" to minors"  -  New Citizen (Fall 1992)

"Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence"  -  Amazon

How TV Promotes Torture



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