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Running Head: CONSEQUENCES OF FICTIONAL DEPICTIONS IN MEDIA

Consequences of Fictional Depictions in Media: Effects of Media Violence on Criminal and Educational Behaviors Paul M. Short and Sharon E. Stein
Ferrum College

Abstract
The present study investigated the relationship between exposure to media violence and behavioral problems in college students. Prior research has demonstrated a link between media violence and behavior. In this study college students, completed a questionnaire about their past and present media consumption and criminal behavior. Several significant relationships were found. Results and implications are discussed.

Consequences of Fictional Depictions in Media: Effects of Media Violence on Criminal and Educational Behaviors
Past research has consistently showed a strong relationship between media violence and age related changes that occur in mental activities such as attending, perceiving, learning, and remembering of adolescents (Shaffer, 1994). On April 20th, 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched an assault on Columbine High School killing 13 people and wounding 23. Although it is impossible to know what drove these individuals to commit such a heinous act, one contributing factor may be the violence in video games that the two of them both enjoyed. The results of a study conducted by Anderson and Dill (2000) showed that individuals who were exposed to violent media mirrored the same actions as those portrayed in the violent media presented. Hence, the results expressed that when violent media is consumed over long periods of time the scholastic performance of adolescents seems to decline as the violent media input is taken in by the adolescent. Anderson and Dill’s research is closely related to that conducted by Konjin, Nije, and Bushman (2007) in which it was found that many adolescents look to violent media as role models for how to live one’s life. Although much of the research in this area is concentrated directly on violence, much of the findings have shown a positive correlation with media violence and lower levels of achievement in the cognitive areas of learning, completion, and remembering. Additionally, adolescents who choose to be involved with violent video games are more likely than not to have lower levels of educational goals and ambitions (Kotulak, 1997).

Media violence also has an adverse effect on adolescent’s ability to discriminate between realistic depictions and fictional situations, while increasing aggressive behavior (Josephson, 1995). Josephson suggests that this blur of our youths perception is driven by the fact that in North America primetime television children are more likely than adults to be depicted as victims of violence and ill-health. In his 1987 study on childhood aggression and television violence participants responses to violent stimuli illustrated the relationship between violent depictions and aggressive behavior. Participants were separated into two groups. One group was exposed to violent and unrealistic media while the other group had minimal exposure to violent depictions. Each group was then interviewed after viewing horror or slasher movies and asked how they felt about different scenarios, such as rape or murder. The participants in the group who viewed the violent material were much less sympathetic or empathetic for these victims while the minimal exposure group tended to respond with compassion. This study seems to reinforce the notion of how violent media has a desensitization effect of the viewer’s perceptions. This finding begs the question; does one improper act advocate and justify another?

These types of influences are not solely limited to visual media. Music lyrics and genres have received less attention over the years then other media outlets, however it would be careless to investigate media’s role in development and not examine...
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