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Examining Media Effects

The General Aggression and General Learning Models

Christopher P. Barlett and Craig A. Anderson

ABSTRACT

The study of screen media effects is becoming especially important because people spend increasing amounts of time on visually realistic entertainment media. This chapter applies two related theoretical frameworks to the study of media effects: the general aggression model (GAM) and the general learning model (GLM). Both theories posit relations between media exposure and internal processes, behavior, and the development of long-term knowledge structures and attitudes. GAM focuses on the development of aggressive knowledge structures and attitudes derived from exposure to violent media depictions (amongst other aggression-related stimuli), and their relation to aggressive behavior. GLM, a broad extension of GAM, posits how long-term attitudes and knowledge structures are formed with continued exposure to any type of media (violent or nonviolent), and how “media-trained behavior” can ensue. How these processes operate, the role of individual differences, and short- and long-term consequences of media exposure are discussed.

Lessons Learned from Media

Mass media are powerful teachers. As we, and many others, have noted, the contents of mass media determines what they teach (e.g., Anderson et al., 2008; Gentile et al., 2009). For instance, Swing and Anderson (2007) noted that electronic media have been used in the classroom to teach topics ranging from ...

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