I wonder what TV George Bush watched as a kiddy. They
surely must have cause of his conversion from being a mere nutter to being an arch war criminal.
Children who watch violent television shows, identify with the characters and believe they are realistic are more likely to be aggressive as adults, U.S. researchers recently reported.
But the researchers found the most violent shows did not have the strongest effects, the shows children liked the best did. These included shows that by today's standards would not be considered especially violent.
But if parents watch television with their children and discuss the differences with reality, they may be able to temper the effects of TV violence, the team of psychologists said.
Chicago-area children aged 6 to 10, their teachers and parents, and analyzed their television viewing habits. They waited for 329 of them to grow up and marry, then interviewed them again, talked to their spouses and checked criminal records.
Fifteen years later, the men and women who had most watched, enjoyed and identified with violent television programs tended to be more aggressive, the team reported in this week's issue of the journal Developmental Psychology, published
by the American Psychological Association. Psychologists Rowell Huesmann and colleagues at the University of Michigan caught up with children first interviewed in 1977 about which violent TV shows they watched.
were the same even when a child's economic status, race, parents' personalities and occupations and other factors were taken into account. Some of the "violent" programs included Starsky and Hutch , The Six Million Dollar Man and
Men who really liked such television shows as children were much more likely to have pushed, grabbed or shoved their spouses, shoved someone who insulted them, been ticketed for speeding or
convicted of another crime.
Women who enjoyed violent shows, including Charlie's Angels , were four times more likely to have thrown something at their husbands, shoved or punched someone else, or been caught speeding
or committing another crime.
The researchers did not believe that children predisposed to aggression or violence tended to watch such shows. It is more plausible that exposure to TV violence increases aggression than that
aggression increases TV-violence viewing, Huesmann said in a statement. Also, the study suggests that being aggressive in early childhood has no effect on increasing males' exposure to media violence as adults and only a
small effect for females.
The researchers were especially struck by their finding that it is a child's identification with characters rather than the degree of violence that predicts later aggression.
Violent scenes that children are most likely to model their behavior after are ones in which they identify with the perpetrator of the violence, the perpetrator is rewarded for the violence and in which children perceive the scene as
telling about life like it really is. Thus, a violent act by someone like Dirty Harry that results in a criminal being eliminated and brings glory to Harry is of more concern than a bloodier murder by a despicable criminal who is brought to justice.