The effects of viewing indirect aggression on television

Coyne, Sarah Marie (2003) The effects of viewing indirect aggression on television. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Over the past 50 years, reseafch has focussed on the effects of viçwing violence in the media. However, another form of aggression ekists, one that is much more subtle and harder to recognize. Indirect (and relational) aggression are manipulative and often covert forms of aggression where the aggressor uses a variety of techniques including gossiping, spreading rumours, and back-biting to hurt another person. This thesis consists of 5 studies, which examined indirect aggression in the media. Study 1 examined the perception of these forms of aggression in adolescents' social environment. These frequencieswere compared with Study 2, a content analysis of indirect aggression on television. It was found that individuals view nearly 10 times more indirect aggression on television than they do in their social environment. Indirect aggression was portrayed on television to be more rewarded, justified, and realistic than physical or verbal aggression. The effect of viewing indirect aggression in the media on subsequent indirectly aggressive behaviourwas measured in Study 3.
Participants who viewed indirect or direct aggression were more aggressive to an arrogant confederate than participants who viewed no-aggression. Study 4 examined perceptions of indirect aggression on television when portrayed by a male or a female actor. Confirming existing stereotypes, participants rated the male indirect aggressor as being more justified and
more rewarded than participants who viewed a female actor. The longer-term relationship between indirect aggression viewed at home and aggressive behaviour later on was examined in Study 5. This revealed that the amount of indirect aggression viewed on television predicted indirectly aggtessive behaviour in school, even when partialling out other contributing factors. Combined, these studies provide the first systematic evidence that indirect aggression not only ekists in the media, but that it has a negative influence on viewers. Suggestions for parents, schools, and media producers are proposed to help curtail the spread the development of indirect and relational aggression in children.

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