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Media Violence
Organizer: Ed Donnerstein, University of California, Santa Barbara

This symposium will examine current research regarding mass media violence and aggressive behavior. It will consider issues such as (the content and context of violence on American television, (2) the conceptualization of media violence from a global perspective, and (3) the role of media literacy in mitigating the impact of exposure to violent media content.

The National TV Violence Monitoring Study
Ed Donnerstein (University of California, Santa Barbara, CA)
The National Television Violence Study (NTVS) is a three-year effort to assess violence on American television.  Funded by the National Cable Television Association, the project involves the efforts of media scholars at four university sites, and an oversight Council of representatives from national policy organizations.  We have collected what we believe to be the largest and most representative sample of television content ever evaluated by a single research project.  In total, we have collected approximately 8000 hours of television programming that includes over 10,000 programs.   Our findings focus on the levels of violence that are found on all sources of television content, including the broadcast networks; independent broadcast; public broadcast; basic cable; and premium cable.  We also address variability in the presence of violence in different program types or genres, including children's programming; and at different times of day and night.  Throughout all of our analyses, we emphasize the importance of the context in which violence is depicted, separating portrayals that pose the greatest risk to viewers from those that are pro-social and would likely discourage violence. This presentation will examine the year to year changes in violent depictions found by our analysis.The National TV Violence Monitoring Study(back to top)

Media interventions for preventing violence
Ron Slaby (Education Development Center & Harvard University, Cambridge, MA)
Television is an effective teacher that can contribute to the problems of violence or its remedies.  Unfortunately, television has for decades fostered viewer aggression, fear, and desensitization by presenting unrealistic, misleading, and glorified portrayals of violence.  Several new interventions and a "bystander strategy" are presented that use media to help prevent violence.  Interventions include a media literacy program for juvenile offenders, video spots designed to change viewers' habits of thought, and programming designed to increase viewers' violence prevention efficacy.(back to top)