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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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18

Callous/Malice

An Examination of Desensitizing and Aggression-Causing Media Effects

Ron Leone and Angela Paradise

ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the complex relationship between exposure to media violence, aggression, and desensitization across various effects dimensions, from physiological and cognitive to affective and behavioral. The impact of contextual factors of media violence is explored, supported by a discussion of Leone's work on “ratings creep.” Susceptibility to media violence is also discussed, informed by Paradise's videogame research dealing with trait aggression and playing style. The authors conclude that the relationship between exposure to media violence, aggression, and desensitization is not linear. Short-term increases in responsiveness to violent media – suggesting aggression-causing effects – can cede to decreased responses – indicative of a desensitization effect – over time. It is this pattern, the authors assert, that is most likely to guide future research into these phenomena.

Key Outcomes of Media Violence

Startling statistics have been published on the number of violent and aggressive acts committed in the United States. According to the FBI (2010), more than 1.3 million violent crimes (e.g., murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) occurred in the United States in 2009. That same year, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009), which collects data on reported and unreported crime from the victim's perspective, measured approximately ...

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