There are many influences on the developing child which originate from the outside the immediate family structure (Murray, 1985). One of these influences is television. Since the 1960’s there has been much debate focusing on the impact of violence on television on the aggressive behaviour in children. It will be shown in this essay that a relationship exists between television violence and aggressive behaviour in children. Evidence from Bandura’s “Bobo Doll” experiment and from an experiment conducted by Stein and Friedrich will be examined and subsequently reviewed in this essay. This will be followed by discussion of some important issues related to the experiment findings and opinions on how one should manage this potential problem will be considered.
Bandura, Ross and Ross (1963) conducted an experiment to determine the cause and effect relationship between television/film violence and aggressive behaviour in children. The experiment used ninety-six subjects consisting of forty-eight boys and forty-eight girls with a mean age of 52 months. The subjects were divided into three experimental groups and one control group consisting of twenty-four subjects in each. The first experiment group observed real-life models portraying aggression. The second group observed these models portraying aggression on a film, while a third group viewed a cartoon depicting a character acting aggressively. The fourth group served as the control group for the experiment and they had no exposure to any of the aggressive models. Prior to the experiment, all subjects both experimental and control, were subjected to mild aggression arousal to insure that they were under some degree of instigation to aggression. The subjects in the three experiment groups viewed either a real-life model, a film depicting a real like model or a character in a cartoon acting aggressively towards the “Bobo” doll. The aggressive acts directed to the doll included kicking, punching, using a mallet to strike the doll and sitting on the doll. Following the exposure experience, the experimenter took the subject into another room which contained a variety of highly attractive toys. The experimenter then explained that the toys were for the subjects to play with, however as soon. As the subjects became sufficiently involved in the material, the experimenter remarked that these were her very best of toys and that she did not let just anyone play with them and that she had decided to reserve these toys for the other children. However, the subjects could play with any of the toys in the next room. The next room contained variety of toys that could be used aggressively and non-aggressively. The aggressive toys included the “Bobo” doll, a mallet, a peg board and two dart guns. The non aggressive toys consisted of a tea set, crayons, and colouring paper, a ball, two dolls, three bears, cars and trucks. The toys were placed in a fixed order for all the sessions. The experimenter then observed the behaviour of the child playing with the toys through a one-way mirror and ranked the child’s behaviour according to the levels of aggression displayed.
The results of the study provided strong evidence to suggest that the exposure to filmed aggression heightens aggressive reactions in children. The subjects who viewed the aggressive real-life models and cartoons models exhibited nearly twice as much aggression than did the subjects in the control group who were not exposed to any of the aggressive film content (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963). The findings that children modeled their behaviour to some extent after the observed models suggests that television and more broadly pictorial mass media may serve as an important source of social behaviour (Bandura et al.,1963).
Another experiment conducted by Stein and Friedrich (1972) presented ninety-seven preschool children with a diet of either anti-social, pro-social or neutral television programs during a four-week program. The...
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