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Adolescent Perceptions on the Presence of the Seven Contextual Features of Animation Violence as an Indicator of Aggress...


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ADOLESCENT PERCEPTIONS ON THE PRESENCE OF THE SEVEN CONTEXTUAL FEATURES OF ANIMATION VIOLENCE AS AN INDICATOR OF AGGRESSIVE ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS By JOSHUA HIRSCH A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

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Copyright 2005 by Joshua Hirsch

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I would like to dedicate this paper to Homer J. Simpson. Without him, none of this would have been possible. D’oh.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the many people who have contributed to my success and development as a student and as an individua l. First, I would like to thank Dr. Rose Barnett for being my thesis chair and provi ding me guidance and di rection with not only my study but life itself. I would also like to extend my thanks to my other committee members Dr. Gerald Culen, Dr. Heather Gibs on and Dr. Joy Jordan for their continued support, insight and constant be lief in me and in my work. It was invaluable to me to have all four committee members’ continued su pport. I would also like to thank Dr. Ken Portier and Dr. Glen Israel for their assistan ce. When it came down to it, they shed the light on my statistics darkness. I would al so like to thank my family: Terry, Elissa, Jonathan and Lindsey. With all of their love, care and support I was able to finish this journey. Lastly I would like to thank my Aly ssa. My life would not be the same without her.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES...........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..x CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Purpose/Significance of the Study................................................................................1 Definition of Terms......................................................................................................4 Research Questions.......................................................................................................5 Primary Research Questions..................................................................................5 Secondary Research Questions..............................................................................5 Hypotheses....................................................................................................................5 Assumptions.................................................................................................................6 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................7 Introduction................................................................................................................... 7 Adolescence..................................................................................................................7 Aggression and Violence............................................................................................10 The Problem................................................................................................................12 Adolescent Patterns of Media Use..............................................................................12 Theories......................................................................................................................1 4 Social Learning Theory.......................................................................................14 Cognitive Priming Theory...................................................................................16 Media Cultivation Effects Theory.......................................................................18 Program Content Research.........................................................................................19 The Simpsons..............................................................................................................22 Personal Characteristics and Environmental Conditions............................................24 Desensitization............................................................................................................26 Summary.....................................................................................................................27 3 METHODS.................................................................................................................30 Population and Sample...............................................................................................30

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vi Settings....................................................................................................................... 32 Research Design and Subject Recruitment.................................................................33 Instrumentation...........................................................................................................33 Television Viewing.............................................................................................34 Beliefs and Perceptions.......................................................................................35 Cartoon Viewing.................................................................................................35 The Simpsons .......................................................................................................37 General Information............................................................................................38 Descriptive Results.....................................................................................................39 Age......................................................................................................................40 School Classification...........................................................................................40 Television Viewing.............................................................................................40 Beliefs and Perceptions.......................................................................................41 Cartoon Viewing.................................................................................................42 The Simpsons......................................................................................................42 Statistical Analysis......................................................................................................43 Primary Research Questions................................................................................43 Secondary Research Questions............................................................................43 4 RESULTS...................................................................................................................44 Analysis of Research Questions.................................................................................44 Primary Research Questions................................................................................44 Secondary Research Questions............................................................................58 Other Significant Findings..........................................................................................72 Summary.....................................................................................................................73 5 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................74 Primary Research Questions................................................................................74 Secondary Research Questions............................................................................74 Television Viewing Habits.........................................................................................75 Viewing Violence on Television................................................................................75 Viewing Violence in Animation.................................................................................76 Viewing Violence on The Simpsons ...........................................................................78 Television Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World.................79 The Simpsons Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World............80 Violence Portrayed on The Simpsons is Justified.......................................................81 Summary.....................................................................................................................82 Limitations..................................................................................................................82 Delimitations...............................................................................................................82 Implications for Practice.............................................................................................84 Recommendations for Future Research......................................................................88 APPENDIX A INTERNAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTERS.........................................90

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vii B INFORMED CONSENT FORM................................................................................92 C SURVEY INSTRUMENT..........................................................................................94 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................102 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................109

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viii LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Participant gender.....................................................................................................39 3-2 Participant ages........................................................................................................40 3-3 School type...............................................................................................................4 0 4-1 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television and boys are more affected by television violence Crosstabulation........46 4-2 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television and after watching viol ence on television, it bothers me Crosstabulation.........................................................................................................47 4-3 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television and after watching violen ce on television, it makes me angry Crosstabulation.........................................................................................................48 4-4 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seei ng violence in cartoons and my favorite type of television program is funny Crosstabulation.....................50 4-5 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seei ng violence in cartoons and boys are more affected by carto on violence Crosstabulation............................51 4-6 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seei ng violence in cartoons and violence goes unpunished in my favor ite cartoon show Crosstabulation..........52 4-7 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons and I like cartoon violence Crosstabulation.............................................................53 4-8 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and after I watch violence on The Simpso ns, I become angry Crosstabulation.............55 4-9 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and shortly after I see violence on The Simps ons I become violent Crosstabulation.....56 4-10 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and violence on The Simpsons is realistic Crosstabulation............................................57

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ix 4-11 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and when I see violence on The Simpsons it bothers me Crosstabulation....................58 4-12 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life and the older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence Crosstabulation..60 4-13 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life and when I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem Crosstabulation.........................................................................................................61 4-14 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life and I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with some of my problems Crosstabulation..............................................................................62 4-15 Comparison of violence on The Simps ons is realistic and after watching violence in a cartoon, I feel angry Crosstabulation..................................................64 4-16 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I beco me violent Crosstabulation..................................65 4-17 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become a ggressive Crosstabulation.........................................66 4-18 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry Crosstabulation........................................................67 4-19 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm Crosstabulation.........................................................68 4-20 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me Crosstabulation.....................................................69 4-21 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I look away Crosstabulation.......................................................70 4-22 Comparison of I think violence is jus tified on The Simpsons and I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems Crosstabulation.............................................................................72

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x Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science ADOLESCENT PERCEPTIONS ON THE PRESENCE OF THE SEVEN CONTEXTUAL FEATURES OF ANIMATION VIOLENCE AS AN INDICATOR OF AGGRESSIVE ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS By Joshua Hirsch December 2005 Chair: Rosemary V. Barnett Cochair: Gerald Culen Major Department: Family, Youth, and Community Sciences The purpose of this study was to examine th e beliefs and perceptions of adolescents on whether or not viewing violence on tele vision contributes to an increase in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive atti tudes and behaviors, as well as the effects humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also explored to what extent the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic and justified by adolescents viewing the show. Two hundred forty-five research partic ipants between the ages of 13 and 17 attending the 2005 State 4-H Congress particip ated in my study. A survey instrument was created, revised, pilot-te sted, edited and then administ ered in dorms during a floor meeting. The demographic portion of the survey requested information related to gender,

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xi age, and school classificati on. Data were analyzed usi ng descriptive statistics and frequency chi-square tests. Results showed exposure to violent cont ent by viewing it on television, animation and The Simpsons does not have effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Resu lts also showed adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on television, animation and The Simpsons do not produce an unrealistic view of vi olence in the real world. The study has implications for understanding adolescents’ beliefs and percepti ons of television violence, animation violence and violence on The Simpsons. Recommendations for future research include e xploring the effects of school environment on adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of television violence, anima tion violence and violence on The Simpsons.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION When children and adolescents are exposed to violent content in the media, they have a greater chance of exhibiting violent a nd aggressive behavior later in life, than children who have not been exposed to vi olent content in the media (Congressional Public Health Summit, 2000). In a longit udinal study, television viewing habits and aggressive behavior of particip ants were measured at three different points in time: at the age of 8, 19 and 30 years (Huesmann, Eron, Le fkowitz, & Walder, 1984). The results of the study revealed that among boys, the relati onship between viewi ng television violence in the third grade and aggressive beha vior 10 years later was positive and highly significant. Exposure to violent content on televisi on during early childhood was predictive of higher levels of aggressi on at age 19 (Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz, & Walder). In contrast to violent content of television exposure at an early age leading to higher levels of aggression at a later age, a ggressive behavior in the third grade was not predictive of violent televi sion consumption at age 19. Purpose/Significance of the Study This study assessed the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents on three separate levels. The first level is whether or not vi ewing violence on televi sion contributes to an increase in adolescents’ abiliti es to learn aggressive attit udes and behaviors. The second level explored the effects that humor and sa tire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on adolescents’ abilities to learn a ggressive attitudes and behaviors. The

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2 final level explored to what extent the viol ence portrayed in the show is believed to be realistic and justified by adol escents viewing the show. Numerous researches have studied the e ffects of television and violence (Belson, 1978; Cantor, 1998; Congressional Public Health Summit, 2000; DuRant, Treiber, Goodman, & Woods, 1996; Huesmann, Eron, Le fkowitz, & Walder, 1984; McIntyre & Teevan, 1972; Rich, 2000;). Rich concluded th at repeated exposure to violent content in electronic media can lead to increased feelings of hostility, expectati ons that others will behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of others, and increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence. A st udy conducted by DuRant and colleagues found that the stronge st single correlate of viol ent behavior was previous exposure to violence. Results of correlati onal studies concluded that children whose favorite programs were more violent also were higher in overall aggressive and delinquent behavior (McIntyre & Teevan). Another study found that higher exposure to violent content on television was positively associated with higher levels of aggressive behavior (Belson). Research has also found that when children and adolescents are exposed to violent content in the media, they have a greater chance of exhibiting violent and aggressive behavior later in life, than children who have not been exposed to violent content in the media (Congression al Public Health Summit). An example of this can be seen in a study conducted by Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz and Walder in which they concluded exposure to violent content on television during early childhood was predictive of higher levels of aggression at age 19. Other studies have focused on the contex tual features of violence (Atkin, 1983; Baron, 1978; Berkowitz, 1990; Geen, 1981; Liss, Reinhardt, & Fredriksen, 1983; Wilson

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3 et al., 1997; Wotring & Gree nberg, 1973;). Wilson and colleagues identified seven contextual features of viol ence that affect the likelihood that a viewer will learn aggressive attitudes and behavi ors from a portrayal. The first is an attractive perpetrator increases the risk of learning aggression. The second contextual feature of violence is the motive or reason for violence is important. Th e third feature of violence is the presence of weapons in a portrayal, particularly conve ntional ones such as guns and knives, which can enhance aggressive responses among viewer s. The fourth cont extual feature of violence is violence that seems realistic ca n promote the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors among viewers (Atkin, 1983). Th e fifth feature refers to Bandura’s (1965) social learning theory and how violence that is explicitly rewarded or that simply goes unpunished increases the risk of imitative aggression, whereas violence that is condemned decreases the risk. The sixth featur e is the consequences of violence for the victim are an important contextual cue; expl icit portrayals of a victim’s physical injury and pain actually can decrease or inhib it the learning of aggression among viewers (Wotring & Greenberg, 1973). The final contextu al feature is violen ce that is portrayed as humorous can increase aggres sion in viewers (Baron, 1978). Despite the substantial b ody of knowledge on the general link between television and violence, there is a lack of research on the effects of violence in humorous situations on television programming. In order to bette r understand the effect s of cartoon violence on youth, there is a need for more studies (Hapkiewicz, 1979 and Wilson, Smith & Potter, 2002). This study added to the exis ting body of knowledge from past research on adolescents’ desensitization towards violen t content on cartoon s hows for children and adolescents by focusing on to what extent e xposure to violent c ontent on television and

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4 on the animated television series The Simpsons has on adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and beha viors. It also focused on adolescents’ perceptions of violence in the real world. Definition of Terms Adolescence: the transition between childhood a nd adulthood. The exact period of adolescence, which varies from person to person, falls approximately between the ages 12 and 20 and encompasses both physio logical and psychological changes. Psychological changes generally include que stioning of identity and achievement of an appropriate gender ro le; movement toward persona l independence; and social changes in which, for a time, the most im portant factor is pe er group relations. (Steinberg, 1999) Aggression: behavior designed to harm or in jure another person (Dictionary.com, 2005) Animation: the creation of artificial movi ng images (Dictionary.com, 2005) Cartoon: a drawing depicting a humorous situation, often accompanied by a caption (Dictionary.com, 2005) Cognitive priming theory: a theory of youth development that posits a violent stimuli in the media can activate or elic it aggressive thoughts in a viewer (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994) Desensitization: to render insensitive or le ss sensitive (Dicitionary.com, 2005) Humor: that which is intended to induce laughter or amusement (Dictionary.com, 2005) Media: a means of mass communication, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, or television (Dictionary.com, 2005) Social learning theory: a theory of youth developm ent that posits children can learn new behaviors in one of two ways : by direct experience through trial and error or by observing and imitating others in their social environment (Bandura, 1977) Television violence: any overt depiction of the use of physical force or credible threat of physical force intended to physically harm an animate being or group of beings (National Television Viol ence Study, Executive Summary, 1996) Violence: the exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (Dictionary, 2005)

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5 Research Questions The purpose of this study was to determine the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents as to whether exposure to viol ent content on televisi on and the animated television series The Simpsons has an effect on the abilities to learn aggres sive attitudes and behaviors of participants ages 13-17. Primary Research Questions 1. To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive a ttitudes and behaviors thr ough exposure to violence by viewing it on television? 2. To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive att itudes and behaviors through exposure to violence in animation on television? 3. To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive a ttitudes and behaviors thr ough exposure to violence by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons ? Secondary Research Questions 4. Do adolescents perceive violence portray ed on television produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world? 5. Do adolescents perceive the vi olence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world? 6. Do adolescents perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is justified? 7. Does gender play a role in the va rying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons ? 8. Does age play a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons? Hypotheses 1. Exposure to violent conten t by viewing it on television has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive att itudes and behaviors. 2. Exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents ’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

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6 3. Adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world. 4. Adolescents perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons to be justified. 5. Gender plays a role in the varyi ng perceptions of violence in The Simpsons 6. Age plays a role in the varyi ng perceptions of violence in The Simpsons. Assumptions It is assumed that all adoles cents participating in this study have a desire to make a change in their community. It can also be assumed that all adolescents participating in the study are accurately reporting their perceptio ns of television violence. The final assumption is that a census sample will provide significant results.

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7 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction This chapter presents a literature revi ew on adolescence and television violence. The review includes the following topics: de velopmental indicators of adolescence, adolescents’ perceptions of television violence, aggressi on and violence, adolescents’ patterns of media use, developmental theo ries associated with youth development, program content, The Simpsons, and other potential risk factors associated with desensitization to television vi olence and the abilities to l earn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The chapter concludes with a su mmary linking these areas together to set a research rationale for the present study. Adolescence Adolescence is often characterized as a time of challenge and turbulence (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2000). This is a time in which adolescents experien ce many changes in their life. They undergo many physical, as we ll as psychological, changes with the onset of puberty and throughout. There are several de velopmental indicators of adolescence. Identity formation is one of the main indicato rs of adolescence. Boys and girls begin to ask questions about who they are and how th ey differ from their parents (Brown, 2000). The second indicator is increased independence. During this time, adolescents have more responsibilities inside and outsi de of the home. They begin to get jobs and with the ability to drive at age 16, they no longer need their parents to take them places. Larson, Richards, Moneta, Holmbeck, and Duckett ( 1996), found the percentage of waking hours

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8 that teens spent with their families fell from 33% to 14% between the 5th and 12th grade. Adolescents also are more susceptible to anti social peer pressure when they have poorer relationships with their parents (Dishion, 1990). This proves to be a problem since teens that spend less dinner time w ith parents have been found to have significantly higher rates of smoking, drinking, marijuana use, a nd getting into serious fights (Council of Economic Advisors, 2000). Peers are also a very important developmen tal indicator in an adolescent’s life. Adolescents spend a great deal of time w ith friends and place a high value on these relationships. Peers are so influential in an adolescents’ life that they will engage in reckless behavior in order to be accepted by a peer group (Arnett, 1992). This desire for acceptance can cause adolescents to partic ipate in activities they normally would otherwise not. One example of this would be membership in a gang. The media has become a developmental indica tor in adolescent’s lives. Strasburger (1997) proposed that the media should now be considered a “super-peer.” According to Strasburger, the messages that are both portrayed in the media and conveyed by the adolescent are a form of influence or peer pressure. These messages can come in the form of a negative influence when violence is portrayed in a humorous or rewarding situation. Adolescents can convey these message s to be acceptable forms of behavior. Youth spend their time using electronic medi a an average of six hours and 32 minutes each day (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999). When considering the amount of time media consumes in an adolescent’s life a nd Bandura’s (1994) Social Learning Theory, it is understandable to see why Strasburger makes the argument for the media to be considered a “super-peer.”

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9 The fourth developmental indicator of adol escence is risk taking. This is a time of experimentation with reckle ss activities (Arnett, 1992). The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (1999) found that 17% of the teens surveyed in the study carried a weapon during the 30 days preceding the surv ey, 50% had drunk alcohol, 27% had used marijuana, and 42% of sexually active stude nts had not used a condom. With findings from this study and the fact that adolescen ts tend to believe they are invulnerable to negative consequences (Greene, Krcmar, Walte rs, Rubin, & Hale, 2000), it is not hard to understand why adolescence is such a trying time. Television interferes with the developmen t of intelligence, thinking skills and imagination (Kinderstart, 2000). A crucial element of thinking is being able to extrapolate from what you know and determine how it applies in a new situation. School requires this method of thinki ng, while television does not. A dolescents who socialize to learn from television have lower than norma l expectations about the amount of mental effort required to learn from written texts, and tend to read less and perform relatively poorly in school. Habitual television viewi ng denies the opportuni ties for adolescents’ imagination to develop (Kinderstart, 2000). They need unstructured time to allow their imagination skills to form by thinking about a book read or a stor y heard, a conversation in the home, or an event in school. The persistence of television sound and rapidly changing images can condition a child to expect that level of dual stimulation in other circumstances. The average length of a program between commercial breaks is seven minutes. This can condition adolescents to ha ve lower level attention spans (Kinderstart, 2000).

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10 Aggression and Violence There are many different perceptions of the definitions of aggre ssion and violence. To some individuals, aggressi on is transferring their emotions into hard work through exercise. To others, aggression is yelling at the top of their lungs at someone or something. Aggression is generally defined by re search literature as behavior designed to harm or injure another person. The intent to harm another distingui shes violence from accidents. Violence is a more serious form of aggression that causes serious harm. Dictionary.com (2005) defines violence as the ex ertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse. Violence is also intense, turbulent, furious and often destructive actions or forces and can also be vehement feelings or expressions. The National Cable Television Association (1996) defines tele vision violence as “Any overt depiction of the use of physical force or credible threat of physical force intended to physically harm an animate being or group of beings. Violence also incl udes certain depictions of physically harmful consequences against an animate being or gr oup that occur as a resu lt of unseen violent means” (National Television Violence Study, Executive Summary, 1996). Correlational studies were conducted in the 1970s to determin e if children and adolescents who were heavy user s of violent television conten t also reported higher levels of aggression. One study that surveyed 2,300 junior and senior hi gh school students in Maryland asked them to list their four fa vorite television programs. These programs were analyzed for violent content and measures of aggression were compiled from a selfreported checklist of activities using five scal es that ranged from aggressive acts (e.g., fighting at school) to serious delinquency (involvement with the law). Results of the study concluded that children whose favorite programs were more violent also were higher in overall aggressive and delinquent behavior (M cIntyre & Teevan, 1972).

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11 Higher exposure to violent content on television has been positively associated with higher levels of aggressive behavior (Belson, 1978). In a correlational study conducted by McLeod, Atkin and Chaffee ( 1972), peer ratings were used to measure levels of aggression as well as self-reports of willingne ss to use violence in hypothetical situations (Dominick & Greenberg, 1972). The findings of these studies conducted across different areas of the country were consistent. The la rge sample sizes and representativeness used in these studies suggest that the causal effect s observed can be generalized to a greater degree. Not one single causal factor has been linke d to episodes of violence. For children under the age of 13, the most important fact ors include: early involvement in serious criminal behavior, early substance use and abuse, being male, a history of physical aggression toward others, low parent educati on levels or poverty, and parent involvement in illegal activities have been identified as predictors of vi olent behavior. As adolescents grow older: the importance of friends and peers are much greater, friendships with antisocial or delinquent peers, membership in a gang, and involvement in other criminal activity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 1). In adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18, the strongest predictors of violence are: weak ties to conventional peers, ties to antisocial or delinquent peers, gang member ship, involvement in other criminal acts, and substance use and abuse. Possibly one of the most influential factors on adolescent violence is violent content in th e media (Mental Health, 2004), yet research is still being conducted to i nvestigate its real effect.

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12 The Problem Children and adolescents are influenced a nd affected by media that they observe and interests them. As they develop, th ey learn by observing, imitating, and making these observed behaviors their own. Adolescents learn aggressive a ttitudes and behaviors by imitating observed models of violence and aggression (DuRant et al., 1996). Repeated exposure to violent content in the media can, therefore, lead to increased feelings of hostility, expectations that others will behave aggressivel y, desensitization to the pain of others, and increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence (Rich, 2000). This repeated exposure can also cause adol escents to become desensitized to the point where they lose their ability to empath ize with both the victim and the aggressor. This is known as the “mean-world” syndrom e (Bryant, Carveth & Brown, 1981). Other predictors of desensitization to violence and the learning of aggressive behaviors are the presence of the seven contextual features of violence, exposure to violent television as well as humorous violent televi sion content, age and gender. The more realistically violence is portray ed, the greater likelihood that it will be tolerated and learned (Cantor, 1998). Studies have found that there is a wide range of violent behaviors child ren and adolescents can exhibit. These consist of: explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others, use of weapons, cruelty towards animals, fire set ting, intentional destru ction of property and vandalism (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004). Adolescent Patterns of Media Use In 1950, only 10% of American homes had a television while today, a television can be found in 99% of homes (Nielson Me dia Research, 1995). In a national study

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13 conducted by Roberts, Foehr, Rideout, and Br odie (1999), an in-depth examination of the media habits of more than 3,000 American children ages 2 to 18 was conducted. The average child in the United States lives in a home with three televisions, three tape players, three radios, two videocassette reco rders, two compact disc players, one video game player, and one computer. More than half of all children in the United States have a television in their room and nearly 30% ha ve a videocassette recorder. The average child and adolescent in the Un ited States spends an averag e of six hours and 32 minutes each day using electronic media (Kaiser, 1999). This is more time than they spend on any other activity, with the excep tion of sleeping. The aver age child watches more than two and one-half hours of televisi on per day; one out of every si x children in this country watches more than five hours of television a day (Roberts et al., 1999). When multiple forms of media are used simultaneously the e xposure increases to eight hours a day. By the time an average American adolescent is 18 years old, they will have viewed more than 200,000 acts of violence, including mo re than 16,000 murders (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1995). The highest proportion of violence was f ound in children’s shows. In programs targeted to children, of which nearly all ar e cartoons, violence is far more prevalent. Roughly seven out of ten children’s shows cont ained some violence, as opposed to nonchildren’s shows containing si x out of ten incidents (Wilson, Smith, et al., 2002). A typical hour of children’s progr amming contained 14 different violent incidents, or one incident every four minutes. On the ot her hand, non-children’s programming featured about six violent incidents pe r hour, or one every 12 minutes Children’s programs were also shown to be substantially more likely than other types of programming to depict

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14 unrealistically low levels of ha rm to victims compared with what would happen in real life (Wilson, Smith, et al., 2002). Theories Social Learning Theory Social learning theory posits that childr en can learn new beha viors in one of two ways: by direct experience thr ough trial and error or by obser ving and imitating others in their social environment (Bandura, 1977). So cial learning theory posits a child observes a model enact a behavior and also witnesses th e reinforcements vicariously. If the model is rewarded, the child too feels reinforced and will imitate or perform the same behavior, although the actions may still be stored in memory and performed at a later date (Bandura, 1965). Besides imitation, early research showed that the media could encourage children to act aggressively in ways th at differed from the precise be haviors seen in a portrayal. An example of this can be seen in a study conducted by Lovaas (1961). In this study, nursery school children viewed either a violent or a nonviolent cartoon and then were given two toys with which to play. One toy had a lever that caused a doll to hit another doll over the head with a stick; the other t oy consisted of a wooden ball that maneuvered through obstacles inside a cage. Compar ed with those in the nonviolent condition, children who had seen the violent cartoon used the hitting doll more frequently. This process, known as “disinhibition”, shows that exposure to violent content in the media can weaken a child’s normal i nhibitions or restraints ag ainst behaving aggressively, resulting in acts of violence th at are similar but not identical to what was seen in a program (Bandura, 1965).

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15 Bandura divides the observationa l learning process into f our sub-processes. The first component is the attentional processes. The only way an individual can imitate a model is by observing and paying attention to the model. Models often attract our attention because they are distinctive, or because they possess the trappings of success, prestige, power, and other winsome qualities (Bandura, 1977). Television is especially successful at presenting mode ls with engaging characteri stics and exerts a powerful influence on our lives (Bandura, 1977). Th e second component of observational learning is retention processes. Stimul us contiguity is the associa tions among stimuli that occur together. Bandura (1965) thinks of symbolic processes in terms of stimulus contiguity. He summarizes experimental evidence that s uggests that models can help children learn to use verbal rehearsal and other techniques (Bandura, 1986). The third component of observational learni ng is motor reproduction processes. To reproduce behavior accurately, the person must have the necessary motor skills (Bandura, 1977). For example, a son might watch his father use a saw but find that he cannot imitate very well because he lacks the physic al strength and agilit y. From observation alone, he picks up a new pattern of re sponse but no new physical abilities. The final component of observational lear ning is reinforcement and motivational processes. Bandura distinguishes between th e acquisition and the pe rformance of a new response. One can observe a model, and thereby acquire new knowledge, but one may or may not perform the responses (Bandura 1977). Performances are governed by reinforcement and motivational variables; we will actually imitate another if we are likely to gain a reward. Performances are also influenced by vicarious reinforcements; the consequences one sees accrue to the model (Bandura, 1977).

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16 Interactive participation increases effective learni ng (Griffiths & Hunt, 1998). Video games are an ideal environment in which to learn violence. They place the player in the role of the aggressor and reward him or her for successful violent behavior. Rather than passively observing part of a violent interaction, video games allow the player to rehearse an entire behavior al script, from provocation, to choosing to respond violently, to resolution of the conflict. Since video games have been found to be addictive, the repetition of playing them increases thei r negative effects (Griffiths & Hunt). Bandura’s original social lear ning theory was criticized fo r being too behavioristic, focusing mostly on reinforcements and how pe ople act. The evolution of his original theory became known as social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). Social cognitive theory acknowledges that cognitiv e processes such as attenti on and retention are involved in observational learning. These mental ac tivities place more emphasis on how children symbolically construe or make sense of a model’s behavior. Children selectively pay attention to different features of a model’s behavior, bring forth different experiences to interpret and evaluate the model’s actions, a nd store different info rmation in memory. These types of cognitive processes can be used to help explain why some children might imitate a model but others do not (Bandura, 1986). Cognitive Priming Theory Cognitive priming is a theoretical perspective developed by Berkowitz and his colleagues to explain short-term reactions to media violence (Jo & Berkowtiz, 1994). Cognitive priming theory posits violent stim uli in the media can activate or elicit aggressive thoughts in a viewer. These though ts can then “prime” other closely related thoughts, feelings, and even motor tendencies st ored in memory. For a short time after exposure, a person is in a state of act ivation whereby hostile thoughts and action

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17 tendencies are at the forefront of the mind (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). Findings from other studies support the idea that violent media content can “prime” aggressive thoughts in people (Bushman & Geen, 1990). An example of the cognitive priming theory can be seen in a study conducted by Anderson, Benjam in, and Bartholow (1998). In this study, college students viewed images of guns a nd other weapons on a computer screen. The appearance of the guns and other weapons pr imed aggressive-related thoughts in the college students. There are several conditions associated with aggressi ve thoughts and feelings progressing into aggressive beha vior. The first condition is the person’s emotional state. Individuals who are experienci ng negative affect, particularly anger or frustration, are more likely to be primed to act aggressively by the media because th ey are in a state of readiness to respond in a fight-or-flight ma nner (Berkowitz, 1990). Angered individuals have been shown to be influenced strongl y by media violence (Paik & Comstock, 1994). The second condition associated with aggr essive thoughts and feelings progressing into aggressive behavior is justification. Wh en violent content in the media is shown to be morally proper, it can help to reduce a person’s inhibitions against aggression for a short time afterward, making it easier to act out such behavior. Violent content in the media that is justified can l ead an individual to rationalize his or her own aggression (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). Paik and Comstock found evidence indicating that justified violence can facilitate aggression in individuals. The final condition associat ed with aggressive thoughts and feelings progressing into aggressive behavior are cues in the environment that remind people of the media violence they have just seen and can trigge r aggressive behavior (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994).

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18 These cues help to reactivate and sustain the previously primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies. The reactivation of these primed aggressive thoug hts and tendencies leads to the prolonging influence of the violent conten t in the media (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). One example of this reactivation of previously primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies can be seen in a study conduct ed by Josephson (1987). In this study, cueing was demonstrated by exposing secondand third-grade boys to either a violent or a nonviolent television program. The violen t program prominently featured walkie-talkies in the plot. Imme diately afterward, the boys were taken to a school gymnasium to play a game of floor hockey. At the start of the game, an adult referee interviewed each boy using a walkie-t alkie or a microphone. Results revealed that aggression-prone boys who had viewed the violent program and then saw the real walkie-talkie were more aggres sive during the hockey game th an were those in any other condition, including boys who had seen the vi olent shows but no real walkie-talkie (Josephson, 1987). In accordance with cognitive priming theory, the walkie-talkie served as a cue to reactivate aggressive thoughts a nd ideas that had been primed by the earlier violent program (Josephson, 1987). Media Cultivation Effects Theory “Media cultivation effects” theory sugge sts that television influences people’s perceptions of the real world. When adoles cents watch an exorbita nt amount of violent content on television they develop an exaggera ted fear of being victimized and believe the world is much more violent than it actual ly is. This perception of the world as a dangerous place is known as the “mean world” syndrome (Bryant, Carveth & Brown, 1981). A strong motivation for some adoles cents to carry a weapon, to be more aggressive, and to “get them before they ge t me” is the fear of being the victim of

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19 violence (Rich, 2000). In some adolescen ts, prolonged exposure to violent visual electronic media leads to sy mptoms of anxiety, depre ssion, and posttraumatic stress disorder further enhancing their fear of the world around them (Singer et al., 1998). Program Content Research The Television Violence Monitoring Project conducted from 1995 through 1997 examined the amount of inte rpersonal violence on Ameri can television as well as contextual variables that may make it more likely for aggression and violence to be accepted, learned, and imitated. Of all televi sion program examined, 61% contain some violence and only 4% of television with viol ent content feature an antiviolence theme (Federman, 1997). As well as such a low proportion of antiviolence themes, 75% of violent scenes on television feature no im mediate punishment for or condemnation of their violence and only 40% of programs featur e “bad” characters that are rarely punished for their aggressive acts (S mith & Donnerstein, 1998). The National Television Violence Study (1998) was conducted to assess the violent content of programming on broadcast as well as cable television (Smith & Donnerstein). Researchers randomly selected program ming during a nine-month period across 23 channels from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seve n days a week. This method produced a composite week of television consisting of more than 2,500 hours of content each year. For three consecutive years ( 1996-1998), the researchers f ound that a steady 60% of all program contained some violence. More th an 80% of the programs on premium cable channels featured violence, as opposed to the programming on public broadcasting that contained less than 20%. Smith and Donnerstein also examined cont extual features of violence. Some examples of these contextu al features are who commits the aggression, whether the

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20 violence is rewarded or punish ed, and whether it results in negative consequences. Three general conclusions resulted from the fi ndings. The first conclusion was violence on television is frequently glamor ized. “Good” characters that can serve as role models for viewers perpetrated 40% of the violent incidents. More than 70% of all violent scenes on television contained no remorse, criticism or penalty for violence. The second conclusion was violence on televi sion is frequently sanitized. Close to half of the violent incidents on television showed no physical harm or pain to th e victim. Less than 20% of the violent programs portrayed the long-term negative repercussions of violence for family and friends of the victim. The fina l conclusion is violence on television is often trivialized. More than half of the violent incidents featured inte nse forms of aggression that would be deadly if they were to occur in real life. Despite such serious aggression, 40% of the violent scenes on televi sion included some type of humor. Other studies have looked at the contextual features of violence. In one such study, seven contextual features of violence that affect the likelihood that a viewer will learn aggressive attitudes and behavi ors from a portrayal were iden tified (Wilson et al., 1997). The first contextual feature of violence is that an attractive perp etrator, or good-looking character, increases the risk of learning aggression. According to Bandura’s (1994) social learning theory, children as well as a dults are more likely to attend to, identify with, and learn from attractive role models than unattractive ones. Liss and colleagues (1983) note the most obvious way to make a perp etrator appealing is to make him or her a hero. Research has shown ch ildren are more likely to imitate peer rather than adult models (Hicks, 1965).

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21 The second contextual featur e of violence is the motive or reason for violence is important. Consistent with the cognitive priming theory, violent actions that seem justified or morally defensible can facilita te viewer aggression, whereas unjustified violence can actually diminish the risk of learning aggression (Geen, 1981). Meaning when a character has a good reason to justif y the use of violence, it can lead to the learning of aggressive behaviors. The thir d feature is the presence of weapons in a portrayal, particularly conventional ones such as guns and knives, can enhance aggressive responding among viewers. Weapons are assume d to function as a vi olent cue that can prime aggressive thoughts in a viewer (Berkowitz, 1990). The fourth contextual feature is violen ce that seems realistic can promote the learning of aggressive attit udes and behaviors among viewers (Atkin, 1983). An example of this would be Bart Simpson trying to defend his sister Lisa from bullies by using karate moves to beat them up. An adolescent can associate the use of violence as an appropriate means to solve a problem and jus tify their behavior accordingly. The fifth feature refers to Bandura’s ( 1965) social learning theory and how violence that is explicitly rewarded or that simply goe s unpunished increases the risk of imitative aggression, whereas violence that is condemned decreases th e risk. The viewing of a perpetrator by an adolescent on television co mmitting a violent act and not getting caught and/or punished can lead to the justificati on by the adolescent of committing violent acts themselves, since the perpetrator was not punish ed. The sixth feature is the consequences of violence for the victim are an important contextual cue; explicit portrayals of a victim’s physical injury and pain actually can decrease or inhibit the learning of aggression among viewers (Wotring & Greenberg, 1973). For example, the cartoon Itchy

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22 & Scratchy seen on The Simpsons is a horrific cartoon depic ting a cat (Scratchy) and mouse (Itchy) continually attacking and mutila ting each other with a variety of deadly weapons. Both Itchy and Scratchy are fine by the next episode, no matter how mutilated they were in the previous episode. Sin ce the actual consequences of the injuries sustained by both Itchy and Scratchy are not po rtrayed, this can lead to the learning of aggressive behaviors. The final feature is violence that is portrayed as humorous can increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978). Humor has the ability to trivialize the seriousness of violence (Gunter & Furnham, 1984) and that humor also may serve as a positive reinforcement or reward for violence (Berkowitz, 1970). The study of humor’s association with vi olence has continued over the years. When violent scenes involve humor either dir ected at the violence or used by characters involved with the violence, positive values ca n be assigned to viewing acts of violence and lead to acceptance of thes e (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). These scenes make up 43% of violent scenes observed. Violent interactions on television involving perpetrators who have some attrac tive qualities worthy of emulation also have positive values attributed to them and account for 44% of the violent interactions on television. The Simpsons This study included an examination of the perceived effects of one television show containing animated violence. The show selected for this study was The Simpsons because it frames violence with humor and satire and contains imbedded violence The animated violence in The Simpsons is often portrayed in a humorous manner. The Simpsons started out as 30-second long “buffer” cartoons shown before and after commercials on The Tracey Ullman Show and is now the longest running animated

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23 sitcom in primetime network television history. The Simpsons are the fourth longest running television program, in terms of ep isodes (Simpson Crazy, 2001). Whether it is being viewed in syndication on any one of nume rous channels or it is Sunday’s latest installment of the new Simpson’s episode, sixteen years later it is still creating inventive storylines appealing to millions. The Simpsons are your typical nuclear family livi ng in Springfield, USA. Homer is a father who gives bad advice and works as the safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant; Marge is a loving, nurtu ring mother and wife who tries to keep peace in the family; Bart is a rambunctious 10year-old; Lisa is a smart, philosophical 8year-old, who loves to play the saxophone ; and Maggie is the baby, who communicates by sucking her pacifier (Simps on Crazy, 2001). The cartoon is f illed with political satire and topical commentary, written by Harvard and Yale graduates, marketed towards youth, and enjoyed by adults. Over the past 16 seasons in the town of Springfield, USA The Simpsons have not aged a day. It is th is agelessness that allows for The Simpons to be enjoyed by fans of any age (Simpson Crazy, 2001). The first half-hour episode of The Simpsons premiered on FOX on January 14, 1990 (Simpson Crazy, 2001). Critics and fans alike have acclaimed The Simpsons as one of television’s truest and mo st hilarious portraits of the American family. The series received the 1990, 1991, 1995 and 1997 Emmy Aw ards for Outstanding Animated Program. The Simpsons has had a greater impact on the na tion than most television series. The show has created such phrases as "Aye carumba!," "Eat my shorts, man!" and "Don't have a cow, man!," which have become a part of everyday language for many people (Simpson Crazy, 2001).

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24 Satire is defined as trenchan t wit, irony, or sarcasm us ed to expose and discredit vice or folly (Dictionary.com, 2005). The Simpsons uses satire, in rela tion to violence, as a means to both convey a message and evoke thought. The intended satirical purpose is not always the end result. Sometimes the m eaning can be construed and adapted to the individuals thought process. Personal Characteristics a nd Environmental Conditions Various personal characteristic s and environmental conditions have been identified that link youth to violent behavior. These f actors are present not onl y within individuals but also in every social setting in which th ey find themselves: family, school, peer group, and community (Mental Health, 2004). Ps ychological conditions, poor parent-child relations (inadequate monitoring or supe rvision and low parental involvement), aggression in males, antisocial parents, an tisocial attitudes and beliefs, low family socioeconomic status, abusive parents, and substance use and abuse have also been identified as influential factors. When race and ethnicity are considered mutually exclusive from other life circumstances, they are found to not be causal factors in adolescent violence. Certain situations and conditions can influence the likelihood of violence occurring. Some of these situ ational factors are provoking, taunting, and demeaning interactions. Adolescents with preexisting tendencies to wards aggression and violence, as well as “normal” adolescents, can both be draw n towards violent cont ent in the media. Research has shown that certain individuals who have high levels of arousal towards “sensation seeking” will generally seek out novel and stimulating activities. Another study has shown that sensation seeking pred icts exposure to viol ent television shows among adolescents and adults. Other studies have shown that children who are more

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25 aggressive prefer violent tele vision; in one specific study pare nts who rated their children as aggressive also rate them as more interested in violent cartoons (Cantor, 1998). Visual electronic media normalize the carrying and using of weapons and glamorize them as a source of personal pow er (DuRant et al., 1997). A study of the top 50 grossing Gand PG-rated non-animated fi lms revealed that 40% of the movies featured at least one main character carrying a firearm (Pelletier et al., 1999). Of the films reviewed, a total of 127 persons carried firearms, resulting in a median of 4 1/2 armed characters per film. Nearly all of th ese movies were comedies or family films likely to be seen by children. In an analysis of the data from the National Television Violence Study Smith et al. (2001) found that 26% of all violent incidents in a composite week of television involve the use of a gun. Three types of programming accounted for most of this gun violence: movies (54%), dr amatic series (19%), and children’s shows (16%). A child viewer on av erage will see nearly two gun-re lated violent incidents every hour that he or she watches television. Heroes on television and movies use violen ce as an efficient means of positive conflict resolution. They use it frequently and without re gard of the consequences. Heroes become role models for adolescents because they are rewarded for their violent behavior. This misconception can lead to a ju stification for using violence to retaliate against perceived aggressors and a means to solve their problems. Parents may be overburdened and self-absorbed and fail to give their children the nurturing, guidance, and control they need early in life to help them develop compassion, establish attachments, and learn boundaries (K inderstart, 2000). This lack of parental involvement plays a critical role in the exposure of violent content in the media by

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26 children and adolescents. Due to the fact that over half of all child ren have a television set in their bedrooms and the increased use of the television as a babysitter, parents are less likely to restrict what their children ar e being exposed to in the media (Kinderstart, 2000). Without parental guidance, adolescents are given an open doorway to the world of violent content in the media. Desensitization Through prolonged use of the media, adoles cents can become desensitized to the point where they lose their ability to empath ize with both the victim and the aggressor. One study found that boys who were hea vy viewers of television exhibited less physiological arousal during selected scenes from a violent film than did light viewers (Cline, Croft, & Courrier, 1973). Another study found that both children and adults were less physiologically aroused by a scene of real -life aggression if they had previously watched a violent drama on television than if they had watched a nonviolent program (Thomas, Horton, Lippincott, & Drabman, 1977). In the book High Tech, High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning Naisbitt, Naisbitt, a nd Phillips (1999) discuss the culture of electronic violence. They say, “The images that once caused us to empathize with the pain and trauma of another human being excite a momentary adrenaline rush. To be numb to another’s pa in is arguably one of the worst consequences our technological advances ha ve wrought. That indifferen ce transfers from the screen, television, film, Internet, and electronic game s to our everyday lives through seemingly innocuous consumer technologies.” Experiments have been conducted to determ ine if desensitizati on as a result of violent content in the media affects an indi vidual’s willingness to help a victim in distress. Thomas and Drabman (1975) exposed first and third graders to either a violent

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27 or a nonviolent television program. After vi ewing the programs, they were placed in charge of monitoring the behavior of two pr eschoolers at play. Older children who had seen the violent television program were sign ificantly slower in seeking help when the preschoolers broke into a fight than were those who had seen the nonviolent show (Thomas & Drabman, 1975). Emerging adults adolescents 18-23 years old, have been shown to become desensitized towards vi olence as well. A study conducted by Linz, Donnerstein, and Penrod (1988) exposed ma le undergraduates to five full-length “slasher” films depicting violence against women. After each film emotional reactions, perceptions of violence in the films, and at titudes toward the women in the films were measured. In accordance with desensitization, males perceived less violence in the films and evaluated the films as less degrading to women over the course of the exposure period. Summary This chapter discussed the important fi ndings surrounding adolescent’s perceptions towards violent content on television. It reported that throug h prolonged use of the media, adolescents could become desensitized to the point where they lose their ability to empathize with both the victim and the aggresso r. This chapter also reported on research on Bandura’s Social Learning Theory and Berkowitz’s Cognitive Priming Theory, finding that adolescents lear n aggressive attitudes and behaviors by imitating observed models of violence and aggression. The focus of this study is on the effects that violent television content has on adolescents’ beliefs and per ceptions. Several key factors contribute to, or predict, desensitization to violence and th e learning of aggressive behavi or. The first key factor is the presence of the seven contextual features of violence. Research has shown that the

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28 presence of the seven contextual features of violence contribute to the likelihood that a viewer will learn aggressive attitudes a nd behaviors from a portrayal (Wilson et al., 1997). Some of the contextual features of vi olence are: that an attractive perpetrator increases the risk of learning aggression, the motive or reason for violence is important in facilitating viewer aggression and desensitiza tion, the presence of w eapons in a portrayal can enhance aggressive responding among viewer s, and violence that seems realistic can promote the learning of aggressive a ttitudes and behaviors among viewers. Another predictor of dese nsitization to violence and the learning of aggressive behavior is exposure to viol ent television conten t. According to Bandura, through the process of “disinhibition”, e xposure to violent content in th e media can weaken a child’s normal inhibitions or restraints against beha ving aggressively. This “disinhibition” results in acts of violence that are similar but not identical to what was seen in a program. Research has also found that both children and adults were less physiologically aroused by a scene of real-life aggression if they had previously watched a violent drama on television than if they ha d watched a nonviolent program (Thomas, Horton, Lippincott, & Drabman, 1977). Exposure to humorous viol ent television content is another predictor of desensitization to violence a nd the learning of aggressive behavior. In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Huma n Services (2001), a major conclusion was that positive values can be assigned to viewi ng acts of violence and lead to acceptance of these violent scenes involving humor either di rected at the violence or used by characters involved with the violence. Research has s hown that when violence is portrayed as humorous, it can increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978). Other studies have

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29 shown that humor has the ability to triv ialize the seriousness of violence (Gunter & Furnham, 1984) and that humor also may serve as a positive reinforcement or reward for violence. Two other important predicto rs of adolescents’ desensi tization to violence and the learning of aggressive behavior are age and gender. Perceptions of violence varies as adolescents grow older and between genders. There are many factors that can affect adolescents’ desensitization towards violent television cont ent. This study focused on examining adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of exposure to violent television content and the presence of the seven contextual features of violence (independently) and whether they affect adolescents’ and their ow n beliefs and perceptions on desensitization towards violent television content and the ability to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

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30 CHAPTER 3 METHODS This purpose of this study was to ex amine the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents on whether or not vi ewing violence on television c ontributes to an increase in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive atti tudes and behaviors, as well as the effects humor and satire used in th e animated television series The Simpsons have on adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also explored to what extent the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic and justified by adolescents viewing the show. Lastly, the study examined whether there are differences in adolescent perceptions of violence in The Simpsons content by gender and age. This chapter discusses the population a nd sampling procedure, research design, instrumentation, data collection, and statisti cal analyses for the present study. The information in these sections describe all procedures, methods, and analyses for the study that worked toward the study’s goal of ex aming the effects humor and satire in The Simpsons have on adolescents’ beliefs and perc eptions of their abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors and their desensitization towards violence. Population and Sample The population is adolescents in 4-H ages 13-17 attending the 2005 State 4-H Congress in Gainesville at the University of Florida. 4-H is the youth education branch of the Cooperative Extension Service, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture (National 4-H Web, 2005). C ooperative Extension Service advances

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31 knowledge for agriculture, the environmen t, human health and well-being, and communities through national pr ogram leadership and federal assistance (Cooperative Extension, 2005). The total number of youth ages 5-18 pa rticipating in Florida 4-H in September 2002 through August 2003 was 241,487. There were 22,858 4-H clubs and 251,245 school enrichment programs across all of Florida’s 67 counties and on the Seminole Tribes reservations in south Florida (F lorida 4-H Statistics, 2004). The gender compositions of these 4-H programs we re 51% (123,427) female and 49% (118,060) male. Thirty-two percent of the youth i nvolved with Florida 4H programs are from minority, racial or ethnic groups with 68% (164,421) White/Caucasian, 19% (46,005) Black/African American, 11% (26,741) Hi spanic, 1.1% (2,809 youth) Asian, and .6% (1,511) American Indian /Pacific Islander. These youth live in all different types of environments. The majority of youth involved with Florida 4-H, 38.6% (93,202), liv e in towns and cities with a population between 10,000 and 50,000 people. Towns with under 10,000 people and in open country have the second most youth involved in Florida 4-H, 27.4% (66,363). Third are youth living in central cities with populations over 50,000 pe ople, 22% (53,327). Fourth are youth living in suburbs of cities w ith populations over 50,000, 8% (19,453). The least number of youth involved with Florida 4-H live on farm s, 3.7% (9,142) (Florida 4H Statistics, 2004). The majority of youth invol ved with Florida 4-H are in first through fifth grades, 62.8% (151,707). Next are youth in sixth through eight grades, 24.7% (59,877). Third are youth in kindergarten, 10.4 % (13,960). Fourth are high school aged youth in grades ninth through twelfth, 4.6% (11,210). The fewest number of youth

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32 involved with Florida 4-H are not in schoo l/post high school, 1.6% (3,786) and special education, .4% (947) (Flori da 4-H Statistics, 2004). The sample for this study consisted of a group of 13to 17-year-old adolescents attending the 2005 State 4-H Congress in Gaines ville at the University of Florida, who elected to participate after th e purpose of the study was in troduced and explained. The final sample was 245 individuals. Settings The study was conducted at State 4-H Congress in Gainesville at the University of Florida. State 4-H Congress is a gather ing of young people from throughout the state experiencing educational workshops, compe titive events, organizati onal activities, and learning about life on a campus. Youth may c hoose to participate in Congress, but may also be selected to participate based on a district competitive event. Other youth may come to be a part of the State 4-H Council, an organization of teenagers dedicated to learning leadership. Congress participants are engaged in educational workshops, grouplearning activities, and socializ ation process while housed at the University of Florida. The participants were informed of the study during a floor meeting on Monday, July 25, 2005. Data were collected that sa me evening in the dorms during this floor meeting. The participants were briefed on the topic, benefits/risks, expected length of completion, and who to contact with questions or concerns. Prior to attending the State 4-H Congress, blanket consent forms were sent to participants’ homes in informational packets. These forms acknowledged and gave permission for conference attendees to participate in studies at the State 4-H Congress. Confiden tiality was ensured through the anonymous format of the survey. Participan ts were never asked for their name on the instrument. In addition, partic ipants gave the completed surv eys to the floor supervisors

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33 face down. Identification numbers were later as signed for data analysis after the surveys had been randomly mixed. Research Design and Subject Recruitment This study is a cross-sectional which is the observation of a defined population at a single point in time or time interval. The unit of analysis, or the major entity that is being analyzed in a study, is the individual (Socia l Research Methods, 2005). Recruitment of subjects was on a voluntary basis. This study is considered cross-sectional because the population being observed and measured at a single point in time. The sample was limited to those youth who volunteered and consen ted to participate. Floor supervisors gave the participants an introduc tion to the topic, a list of all of the benefits and risks, the expected length of completion, and who to cont act with questions or concerns. Potential participants were given the option of whethe r they would like to be informed of the results of the study. Partic ipants’ exposure and outcomes were measured through the instrumentation. Exposure and outcome ar e determined simultaneously (Bandolier, 2005). Instrumentation The survey instrument consisted of 84 items and is comprised of a General Information section and four content sections. The four content sections are: Television Viewing, Beliefs and Perceptions, Cartoon Viewing, and The Simpsons Likert scalar response style and fill-in ques tion types were used in the survey instrumentation. The instrument was pilot-tested by a group of four local high school students. A second revision of the instrument was pilot tested by four local high school st udents and a team of adolescent experts. A scale considered to have good internal consistency has a Cronbach alpha coefficient reported of .85. In the current study the Cronbach alpha

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34 coefficient was .825. This scale can be consid ered to have good internal consistency for use in future studies. Previous research studies have shown th at the more realistically violence is portrayed on television, the greater likelihood it will be tolerated a nd learned (Cantor, 1998). This is one of the seven contextual feat ures of violence that can lead a viewer to learn aggressive attitudes a nd behaviors from a portrayal (Wilson et al., 1997). When any or all of the seven contex tual features of violence are present in television content, the viewer has a greater chance of learning aggressive attitude s and behaviors. Specific items of this instrument focused on the se ven contextual features of violence and adolescents’ beliefs and percep tions as a result of these bei ng present. Analyses of the results of these items were useful in determ ining adolescents’ belie fs and perceptions in regards to the learning of aggres sive attitudes and behaviors. Items were scored on a one, Strongly Disagree, to five, Str ongly Agree, Likert scale. In those instances where reverse coding was needed, it was done prior to data analysis. Television Viewing The first content section, items one th rough four, examined television-viewing habits of the participants. Items one thr ough four asked about the amount of television viewed by the participants in a certain amount of time. The fi rst item of this section, one, asked participants whether or not they watc h television. This ques tions functions as a screening item. If they answer “No” to this question, they are inst ructed to go to item number 81, the first item in the General Inform ation section. The results of these items were useful in analyzing the frequency of tele vision viewing. There is a growing trend of the television being used as a babysitter by parents, as well as the perception of the television functioning as a “s uper-peer” by youth (Strasburger 1997). Item four asked

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35 about the presence of a television in the pa rticipant’s bedroom. Since a television is present in over 53% of children’s bedrooms ag es 218-years-old, parents of these youth are less likely to restrict what their children are being exposed to in the media (Roberts et al., 1999; Kinderstart, 2000). Analyses of th is entire section helped determine the viewing habits of adolescents and the relative importance placed upon television in the home. Beliefs and Perceptions The second content section, items five th rough 21, examined participants’ general beliefs and perceptions on whether or not view ing violence on televi sion contributes to an increase in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Analyses of the results helped in determining participants’ beliefs and perceptions on the consequences of television violence. Cartoon Viewing The second content section, items 22 thr ough 50, examined cartoon violence. The first item of this section aske d participants whether or not th ey watch cartoons. This item functions as a screener. If they answer “No” to this question, they are instructed to go to question number 81. Items 25 through 32, addr essed the participan ts’ moods during and after viewing a violent situation. Analysis of the results of th ese items helped in determining whether or not a correlation exis ted between the perception of the realism of cartoon violence and the learning of aggressi ve attitudes and behaviors. A positive attraction towards violent content being observed on television could mean not only acceptance of violent content on television, bu t also the violence in the content being justified since their beliefs a nd perceptions of the violent co ntent is that the violence is acceptable.

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36 Another contextual feature of violence is that an attractive perp etrator increases the risk of learning aggression. When the attract ive perpetrator takes the role of a hero, the likelihood of learning aggression greatly increases (Liss et al ., 1983). Also, viewers pay more attention to and identify with same-s ex characters as opposed to those of the opposite-sex (Bandura, 1986). Item 39 asked wh ether or not the participant liked what the main character of their favorite cartoon li kes like, and item 40 asked whether or not the participant liked the way th e main character of their favo rite cartoon behaves. Item 41 asked the participants whether or not they be lieved the main character of their favorite cartoon behaved in a heroic manner. The analys es of the results of these items provide a correlation between the attract iveness and acceptance of the main character of a carton and the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The third contextual feature of violence is the presence of weapons in a portrayal, particularly conventional ones such as guns and knives, can enhance the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors (Ber kowitz, 1990), items 42 through 44 address this contextual feature of violence. Item 42 asked the participan ts if the main character of their favorite cartoon uses weapons The results of this item showed the frequency of use of weapons within their favorite cartoon. Item 43 asked if weapons were the answer to a problem in a cartoon. Analyses of the resu lts of this item showed the beliefs and perceptions of particip ants on the acceptance of the use of weapons within participants’ favorite cartoons. The analyses of the resu lts of these items found a de-emphasis on the severity attributed to wea pons and participants’ beliefs and perceptions regarding the ability to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

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37 The next contextual feature of violence states that when violence is explicitly rewarded or goes unpunished it can increase the risk of learning aggressive attitudes and behaviors (Bandura, 1965). Item 46 address th is contextual featur e of violence by asking the participants if the main character of their favorite cartoon is punished for using violence. Analysis of the results of this item helped in determining whether a relationship exists between the portrayals of violence and the results exhibited as well as showing participants’ beliefs a nd perceptions on the justifica tion of violence within their favorite cartoon. The next contextual feature says that th e consequences of violence for the victim are an important cue; explicit portrayals of a victim’s physical injury and pain actually can inhibit the learning of aggressive at titudes and behavior s (Baron, 1978). The analyses of the results of item 49, which aske d whether or not the results of violence are show in my favorite cartoon, showed particip ants’ beliefs and per ceptions regarding the ability to learn aggressive att itudes and behaviors when any or all of the seven contextual features of violence are present. The last item of this section asked part icipants whether or not they like cartoon violence. The analysis of the results of th is question helped in establishing a comparison between two subsets of participants, thos e who like cartoon violen ce and those who do not. This was useful when drawing final conclusions about the characteristics of participants and their preferences. The Simpsons The next content section, items 51 th rough 80, examined participants viewing habits and perceptions of The Simpsons. This section is similar in comparison to the previous content section but th e focus of this section is The Simpsons. The first item, 51

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38 asked the participant if they have ever watched the cartoon The Simpsons. This question acts as a screening item. If the participan t answers “No” to this question, they are instructed to skip this sec tion and go to question number eighty-one, if the participant answers “Yes” to this question, they are instructed to contin ue on to the next question. Item 52 measures the particip ants’ frequency of viewing The Simpsons analysis of the results of this item helped in determining the amount of heavy versus light viewers of The Simpsons. As discussed earlier, when violence is explicitly rewarded or goes unpunished it can increase the risk of learning aggressive attitudes and behavior s. In other words, if the violence appears to be justified it contribu tes to learning of aggr essive attitudes and behaviors. Item 63 asked participan ts if they believe the violence on The Simpsons is justified. Analysis of the results of this it em helped in determining a correlation between participants’ beliefs and percep tions on the portrayals of viol ence and whether or not they are justified. Item 64 asked the participants’ about thei r beliefs and perceptions in regards to their favorite character using violence to so lve their problem. As discussed earlier, presence of an attractive char acter contributes to learning of aggression. Analysis of the results of this item helped to determine whether a relationship exists between participants’ beliefs and perceptions on the ability to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors from an attractive character. General Information The first two general information items ask for the participant’s age and gender in order to conduct analyses by age and gende r differences. The final question of the General Information section asks about the t ype of school the part icipant attends. This

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39 information is useful in determining whethe r there are differences in perceptions and beliefs held by youth vary by type of school attended. Descriptive Results The sample consisted of 245 participants. A complete breakdown of the demographic characteristics of the sample can be examined in tables throughout the chapter. In addition, results were reported individually by gender and as a whole sample. Gender Girls made up more than three-quarters of the sample (82.2%), or 199 of the 245 participants, and boys composed less than a quarter of the sample (17.8%), or 43 of the 245 participants. The gender breakdown of this study was consistent with the assumptions created during data collection. Re gistered female participants, (N=288), at the 2005 State 4-H Congress outnumbered male participants, (N=140). Due to data collection occurring at the 2005 State 4H Congress, a majority-female gender breakdown was expected. However, the higher than expected female response rate is also accounted for by an overall higher wil lingness by females to par ticipate in the study, as an approximately equal opportunity for all youth participants was made available on each dorm floor. Table 3-1. Participant gender. Gender Frequency Valid Percent Female Male Total 199 43 242 82.2 17.8 100.0

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40 Age The ages of participants in the study ranged from 13 years old to 19 years old. Table 3-2. Participant ages. Age Frequency Valid Percent 13 14 15 16 17 Total 5 39 60 59 42 205 2.44 19.02 29.27 28.78 20.49 100.0 School Classification All of the study participants were member s of 4-H and attended either public school (55.9%), private school (8.2%) or were home schooled (33.1%). Table 3-3. School type. School Frequency Valid Percent Public Private Home Total 137 20 81 238 57.6 8.4 34.0 100.0 Television Viewing This section of the survey helped prov ide in-depth information on the viewing habits of participants. These specific que stions include items about whether or not participants watched televisi on, approximately how many hour s of television they watch on an average day, and whether or not they have a television in their bedroom. The first item about television viewing was used as a screening question. Th e sample reported 218 of 239 (91.2%) participants watch television, 21 of 239 (8.8%) participants do not watch television. Another item in this section asked partic ipants about their ap proximate amount of television viewing on an average day. The highest frequency hours of television watched

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41 in an average day was two, reported by 49 out of 206 (23.8%) participants. The second highest frequency hours of tele vision watched in an aver age day was one, reported by 41 out of 206 (19.9%) participants. The third hi ghest frequency hours of television watched in an average day was three, reported by 29 out of 245 (14.1%) participants. Twenty out of 206 (9.7%) participants answered they watc hed four hours of television on an average day and 18 out of 206 (8.7%) participants answer ed they watched five hours of television on an average day. The mean hours of televi sion watched by girls on an average day was slightly higher than boys at 2.96 hours versus 2.68 hours. When part icipants were asked if they have a television in their bedroom, it was pretty much half and half: 108 out of 216 (50%) participants do not have a tele vision in their bedroom and 106 out of 216 (50%) participants do have a television in their bedroom. Beliefs and Perceptions This section asked participan ts about their beliefs and perceptions about violence on television. Participants were asked about their favorite type of television program, how age affects their percepti ons of violence, how gender af fects their perceptions of violence, whether or not they display aggressive tendencie s, and what they do after watching violence on television. When partic ipants were asked whether their favorite type of television program is funny, a little more than one-third of participants 81 out of 217 (37.3%) strongly agreed, more than one-four th of participants 60 out of 245 (27.6%) were neutral, 57 out of 217 (26.3%) participan ts agreed, 11 out of 217 (5.1%) participants disagreed, and eight out of 217 (3.7%) participants strongly di sagreed. Participants were also asked if they believed their favorite t ype of television program is violent. The majority of participants eith er strongly disagreed or di sagreed, 66 out of 214 (30.8%) and 61 out of 214 (28.5%) respectively. Forty-f our out of 214 (20.6%) participants were

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42 neutral, 32 out of 214 (15%) participants ag reed, and 11 out of 214 (5.1%) participants strongly agreed. Cartoon Viewing This section asked participan ts about their cartoon viewi ng habits as well as their beliefs and perceptions about cartoons. As in the Television View ing section, the first item is a filter question. The sample repor ted 108 out of 214 (50.5%) participants watch cartoons and 106 out of 214 (49.5%) pa rticipants do not watch cartoons. The Simpsons This section asked participants abou t their viewing habits of the cartoon The Simpsons It also asked participants about their beliefs and perceptions about The Simpsons and Itchy and Scratchy, a cartoon show the Simpsons family watches often on television. As in the Television and Cartoon Viewing sections, the first item is a filter question. The sample reported 73 out of 116 (62.9%) participants watch The Simpsons and 43 out of 116 (37.1%) participants do not watch The Simpsons Another item in this section asked partic ipants about their ap proximate amount of hours of The Simpsons they view in an average week. The highest frequency hours of The Simpsons watched in an average week was one, with 19 out of 68 (27.9%) participants. The second highest frequency hours of The Simpsons watched in an average week was one-half, with 11 out of 68 (16.2%) participants. The th ird highest frequency hours of The Simpsons watched in an average week wa s three, with nine out of 68 (13.2%) participants. Six out of 68 (8.8%) part icipants answered th ey watched two hours of television in an average week and two out of 68 (2.9%) particip ants answered they watched five hours of The Simpsons in an average week.

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43 Statistical Analysis Data analysis included basic descript ive statistics of all the items. Primary Research Questions In order to investigat e the primary research questions, which ask to what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and per ceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through expo sure to violence by viewing it on television/cartoons/ The Simpsons chi-square analysis, along with Kendall’s Tau-b, was conducted. Secondary Research Questions In order to examine adolescents’ perceptio ns of violence portrayed on television and in The Simpsons and what effects it has on their unr ealistic views of violence in the real world chi-square analysis was conducte d. The next secondary research question addresses adolescents’ perceptions of the justification of vi olence portrayed in The Simpsons chi-square analysis, along with Kendall’s Tau-b, was conducted to examine these perceptions. All of these statistical an alyses were completed utilizing SPSS (version 12.0).

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44 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The primary purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents on whether or not vi ewing violence on television c ontributes to an increase in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive atti tudes and behaviors, as well as the effects humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also explored the extent to whic h the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic and justified by adolescents view ing the show. Lastly, the study examined whether there are differences in adolescent perceptions of violence in The Simpsons content by gender and age. Results for all of th ese questions are discussed in this chapter. The chapter concludes with additional significant results that were not directly related to primary or secondary research questions. Analysis of Research Questions Primary Research Questions Research Question 1. To what extent are adolesce nts’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learni ng of aggressive attitudes a nd behaviors through exposure to violence by viewing it on television? Hypothesis 1. Exposure to violent conten t by viewing it on television has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to l earn aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

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45 The purpose of this question was to determ ine if there is a relationship between participants’ beliefs and perceptions and e xposure to television violence. Conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence on television and several independent vari ables indicated the presence of some significant relationshi ps. The first independent va riable with a significant relationship with the dependent variable was Boys are more affected by television violence (n=213) (Table 4-1). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agr ee/Agree, Neutral, an d Strongly Disagree, Di sagree. Close to half of the participants, 95, Str ongly Agreed/Agreed with the item Boys are more affected by television violence (44.61%); 76 participants were Ne utral about this item (33.68%); and 42 participants Strongly Disagreed/Disagre ed (19.72%). Kendall’s tau-b was used to test concordance. It has a value of .195 with a p .000. This indica tes there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence on television Participants who Strongly Agree/Agree with this item will have linear concordance in their answ ers in relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is rela tively low, .195, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak. Kendall’s tau-b is a nonpa rametric measure of association based on the number of concordance and discordan ces in paired observations. Concordance occurs when pair ed observations vary together, and discordance occurs when paired observations vary differently (SAS Institute, 1999). The chi-square value for this item is 45.612 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research

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46 hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by viewing it on television has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-1. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television and boys are more affected by television violence Crosstabulation BoysTV Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 1.41% 1.41% .47% .94% 0% Disagree .94% 0% 2.82% 2.35% 1.41% OlderTV Neutral 2.35% 2.35% 7.04% 6.57% 2.35% Agree 2.35% 7.51% 19.72% 12.68% 4.23% Strongly Agree 7.98% .47% 5.63% 5.63% 8.45% Note. 2=45.612 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.195 p .001 By conducting chi-square analysis anothe r significant relationship was determined between the independent variable which states After watching violence on television, it bothers me and the dependent variable (n=214) (T able 4-2). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: St rongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. About one-third of the participants, 70, Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item After watching violence on television, it bothers me (32.71%); close to onethird of participants, 71, were Neutral about this item (33.18%); and 73 participants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (34.11%). Kendall’ s tau-b was determined to have a value of -.207 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistica l correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more us ed to they are seeing violence on television Participants who Strongly Disagree/Dis agree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers in relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for

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47 Kendall’s tau-b is relatively lo w, -.207, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak. The chi-square value for this item is 34.087 with a p of .005 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by viewing it on television has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-2. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television and after watching viol ence on television, it bothers me Crosstabulation. TVBother Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 0% .93% .93% 1.4% 1.4% Disagree .47% 1.4% 2.34% 2.8% .47% OlderTV Neutral 2.34% 4.67% 5.61% 5.14% 2.8% Agree 5.14% 7.48% 18.22% 10.28% 5.61% Strongly Agree 7.94% 3.74% 6.07% .93% 1.87% Note. 2=34.087 DF=16 p .005 Kendall’s tau-b=-.207 p .000 The last independent variable determined to be of significance by conducting chisquare analysis was After watching violence on television, it makes me angry (n=209) (Table 4-3). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongl y Disagree, Disagree. Close to half of the participants, 100, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After watching violen ce on television, it makes me angry (47.85%); 80 participants were Neut ral about this item (38.28%); and 29 participants Strongly Agreed/A greed (13.88%). Kendall’s taub was determined to have a value of -.188 with a p .001. This indicates there is a statistical correl ation with the

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48 dependent variable The older one gets, the more us ed to they are seeing violence on television Participants who Strongly Disagree/Dis agree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers in relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is relatively lo w, -.188, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak. The chi-square value for this item is 31.445 with a p .012 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by viewing it on television has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-3. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television and after watching violen ce on television, it makes me angry Crosstabulation. TVAngry Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree .48% 1.44% 1.91% 0% .48% Disagree .97% .97% 4.78% .48% .48% OlderTV Neutral 3.83% 6.69% 7.18% 1.91% 1.44% Agree 8.13% 10.05% 20.1% 6.22% 1.91% Strongly Agree 10.05% 5.26% 4.31% .48% .48% Note. 2=31.445 DF=16 p .012 Kendall’s tau-b=-.188 p .001 Research Question 2. To what extent are adolesce nts’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the le arning of aggressive att itudes and behaviors through exposure to violence in animation on television?

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49 Hypothesis 2. Exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to l earn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The purpose of this question was to determ ine if there is a relationship between participants’ beliefs and perceptions and e xposure to animated violence. Conducting chisquare analysis on the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons and several independent variab les indicated the presence of some significant relationships. The first i ndependent variable i ndicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was My favorite type of television program is funny (n=212) (Table 4-4). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Ag ree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. About twothirds of the particip ants, 135, Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item M y favorite type of television program is funny (63.68%); more than one-fourth of the participants, 59, were Neutral about this item (27.83%); and 18 pa rticipants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (8.49%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .180 with a p .002. This indicates there is a statistical corr elation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons Participants who Strongly Agree/Agree with this item will have linear conc ordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value fo r Kendall’s tau-b is relatively low, .180, the relationship between the dependent va riable and this item is weak. The chi-square value for this item is 45.383 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research

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50 hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-4. Comparison of the older I get, th e more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons and my favorite type of tele vision program is funny Crosstabulation. FavTVFunny Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 1.89% .47% 2.83% 2.36% 1.42% Disagree 0% 1.42% 4.72% 5.19% 4.25% OlderCartoons Neutral .47% 1.42% 9.91% 5.19% 12.26% Agree .94% 1.42% 6.6% 12.26% 9.43% Strongly Agree 0% .47% 3.77% 1.42% 9.91% Note. 2=45.383 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.180 p .002 The second independent variable indicati ng a significant rela tionship with the dependent variable was Boys are more affected by cartoon violence (n=211) (Table 4-5). Participants’ responses were broken down in to three categories: St rongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than one-fou rth of the participants, 60, Strongly Agreed/Agr eed with the item Boys are more affected by cartoon violence (28.44%); 90 participants were Neutral a bout this item (42.65%); and 61 participants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (28.91%). Kendall’ s tau-b was determined to have a value of .209 with a p .000. This indicates there is a stat istical correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is relatively low, .209, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak.

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51 The chi-square value for this item is 30.304 with a p .016 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-5. Comparison of the older I get, th e more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons and boys are more affected by cartoon violence Crosstabulation. BoysCartoon Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 1.89% 2.84 % 1.89% 1.89% % Disagree .95% 5.21% 6.64% 2.37% % OlderCartoons Neutral 2.84% 6.16% 13.27% 4.74% 1.89% Agree 3.32% 3.79% 14.69% 6.64% 2.37% Strongly Agree .95% .95% 6.13% 3.32% 4.27% Note. 2=30.304 DF=16 p .016 Kendall’s tau-b=.209 p .000 Another independent variable indicati ng a significant relationship with the dependent variable is Violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show (n=106) (Table 4-6). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and St rongly Disagree, Disagree. On ly 11 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item Violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show (10.38%); about one-third of participants, 32, were Neutral about this item (30.19%); and more than half of the participants, 6 3, Strongly Disagreed/Dis agreed (59.43%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .290 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlati on with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seei ng violence in cartoons Participants who Strongly

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52 Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variab le. Since the value for Kendall ’s tau-b is relatively low, .290, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak. The chi-square value for this item is 30.696 with a p .015 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-6. Comparison of the older I get, th e more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons and violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show Crosstabulation. ViolenceUnpunished Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 5.66% .94% 0% 0% 0% Disagree 6.6% 5.66% .94% .94% 0% OlderCartoons Neutral 9.43% 9.43% 11.32% 2.83% 0% Agree 8.49% 8.49% 10.38% 3.77% 0% Strongly Agree 2.83% 1.89% 7.55% .94% 1.89% Note. 2=30.696 DF=16 p .015 Kendall’s tau-b=.290 p .000 The last independent variable indicating a relationship with the dependent variable is I like cartoon violence (n=107) (Table 4-7). Particip ants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Only 16 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item I like cartoon violence (14.959%); more than one-fourth of the par ticipants, 31, were Neutral about this item (28.97%); and more than half of the part icipants, 60, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (50.07%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .210 with a p .018. This

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53 indicates there is a statistical corr elation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variab le. Since the value for Kendall ’s tau-b is relatively low, .210, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak. The chi-square value for this item is 27.594 with a p .035 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation has effects on the beliefs and percep tions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-7. Comparison of the older I get, th e more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons and I like cartoon violence Crosstabulation. LikeViolence Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 4.67% 0% 0% .93% .93% Disagree 10.28% .93% 1.87% .93% 0% OlderCartoons Neutral 11.21% 6.54% 14.95% .93% 0% Agree 10.28% 4.67% 9.35% 2.8% 3.74% Strongly Agree 5.61% 1.87% 2.8% .93% 3.74% Note. 2=27.594 DF=16 p .035 Kendall’s tau-b=.210 p .018 Research question 3. To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the le arning of aggressive att itudes and behaviors through exposure to violence by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons?

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54 Hypothesis 3. Exposure to violent c ontent by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The purpose of this question was to determ ine if there is a relationship between participants’ beliefs and perceptions a nd exposure to animated violence in The Simpsons By conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive and several independent variables indicated the presence of some significant relationships. The first independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry (n=69) (Table 4-8) Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to three-fourths of pa rticipants, 50, Strongly Disagreed /Disagreed with the item After I watch violence on Th e Simpsons, I feel angry (72.46%); about one-fourth of the participants, 16, were Neutral on this item (23.19%); and 3 respondents Strongly Agreed/Agreed (4.35%). Kendall’s tau-b was de termined to have a value of .445 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation wi th the dependent variable After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent vari able. Since the value for Ke ndall’s tau-b is moderately high, .445, the relationship between the depende nt variable and this item is strong. The chi-square value for this item is 74.362 with a p .000 and 12 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research

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55 hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-8. Comparison of after I watch viol ence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become angry Crosstabulation. SimpsonsAngry Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 42.03% 13.04% 10.15% 1.45% 1.45% Disagree 0% 13.04% 1.45% 0% 0% Simpsons Aggressive Neutral 2.89% 1.45% 11.59% 0% 0% Agree 0% 0% 0% 0% 1.45% Note. 2=74.362 DF=12 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.445 p .000 The second independent variable indicating a very significant relationship with the dependent variable was Shortly after I see violence on Th e Simpsons, I become violent (n=70) (Table 4-9). Partic ipants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutra l, and Strongly Disagree, Di sagree. More than threefourths of participants, 60, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item Shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent (85.71%); 9 participants were Neutral on this item (12.86%); and 1 respondent Strongly Agreed /Agreed (1.43%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .846 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disag ree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is extremely high, .846, the rela tionship between the dependent variable and this item is very strong.

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56 The chi-square value for this item is 161.034 with a p .000 and 9 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 9 DF is 16.92. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-9. Comparison of after I watch viol ence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent Crosstabulation. SimpsonsViolent Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Disagree 67.14% 0% 0% 0% Disagree 4.29% 10% 0% 0% Simpsons Aggressive Neutral 2.86% 1.43% 12.86% 0% Agree 0% 0% 0% 1.43% Note. 2=161.034 DF=9 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.846 p .000 The next independent variable with si gnificant relationship with the dependent variable was Violence on The Simpsons is realistic (n=70) (Table 4-10). Participants’ responses were broken down into three cate gories: Strongly Agree/ Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than three-fourths of part icipants, 54, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item Violence on The Simpsons is realistic (77.14%); 12 participants were Neutral on this item (17.14%); and 4 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (5.41%). Kendall’s tau-b was de termined to have a value of .387 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation wi th the dependent variable After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with

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57 relation to the dependent variab le. Since the value for Kenda ll’s tau-b is moderate, .387, the relationship between the dependent vari able and this item is slightly strong. The chi-square value for this item is 26.264 with a p .010 and 12 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-10. Comparison of after I watch violen ce on The Simpsons I become aggressive and violence on The Simpsons is realistic Crosstabulation. SimpsonsRealistic Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 41.43% 17.14% 7.14% 1.43% 0% Disagree 2.86% 7.14% 2.86% 1.43% 0% Simpsons Aggressive Neutral 4.29% 4.29% 5.71% 0% 2.86% Agree 0% 0% 1.43% 0% 0% Note. 2=26.264 DF=12 p .010 Kendall’s tau-b=.387 p .000 The final independent variable indicati ng a significant relationship with the dependent variable was When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me (n=70) (Table 4-11). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Str ongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to half of th e participants, 32, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me (45.71%); 16 participants were Ne utral on this item (22.86%); and 12 participants Strongly Agreed/A greed (17.14%). Kendall’s taub was determined to have a value of -.293 with a p .004. This indicates there is a statistical correl ation with the dependent variable After I watch violence on The Si mpsons, I become aggressive.

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58 Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is slightly moderate, .293, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is not too weak. The chi-square value for this item is 41.080 with a p .000 and 12 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ expos ure to violent content by vi ewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected. Table 4-11. Comparison of after I watch violen ce on The Simpsons I become aggressive and when I see violence on The Simps ons, it bothers me Crosstabulation. SimpsonsBother Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 35.71% 12.86% 11.43% 4.29% 2.86% Disagree 1.43% 4.29% 1.43% 5.71% 1.43% Simpsons Aggressive Neutral 5.71% 0% 10% 1.43% 0% Agree 0% 0% 0% 0% 1.43% Note. 2=41.080 DF=12 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=-.293 p .004 Secondary Research Questions Research Question 1. Do adolescents perceive that violence portrayed on television produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world? Hypothesis 1. Adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on television produces an unrealistic vi ew of violence in the real world. The purpose of this question is to determine participants’ perceptions of violence in the real world. By conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable The older I

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59 get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life and several independent variables indicated the presence of some significant rela tionships. The first independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was The older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence (n=212) (Tables 4-12). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: St rongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. About one-fourth of the participants, 52, St rongly Agreed/Agreed with the item The older I get, the more I ge t used to experiencing violence (24.53%); more than one-fourth of the participants ,58, were Neutral on this item (27.36%); and close to one-half of the participants,1 02, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (48.11%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .510 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlati on with the dependent variable The older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s ta u-b is high, .510, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is strong. The chi-square value for this item is 152.269 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the viol ence portrayed on television produces an unrealistic view of violen ce in the real world, is rejected.

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60 Table 4-12. Comparison of the olde r I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in reallife and the older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence Crosstabulation. OlderExperience Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 9.43% .94% .47% 0 % 0% Disagree 8.49% 9.43 % 1.42% .94% 0% OlderLife Neutral 3.3% 2.83% 11.79% 1.89% 1.42% Agree 2.83% 8.02% 9.43% 9.91% 1.42% Strongly Agree 1.42% 1.42% 4.25% 2.8% 6.13% Note. 2=152.269 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.510 p .000 The second independent variable indica ting a relationship with the dependent variable was When I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem (n=213) (Table 4-13). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and St rongly Disagree, Disagree. On ly 7 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item When I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem (3.29%); 29 participants were Neutral about this item (13.62%); and more than three-fourths of the participants, 177, pa rticipants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (83.09%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .266 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical corr elation with the dependent variable The older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variab le. Since the value for Kendall ’s tau-b is relatively low, .266, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak. The chi-square value for this item is 51.038 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research

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61 hypothesis, adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the viol ence portrayed on television produces an unrealistic view of violen ce in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-13. Comparison of the olde r I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in reallife and when I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem Crosstabulation. MadUse Strongly Disagree DisagreeNeutralAgree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 9.86% .94% 0% 0% 0% Disagree 15.96% 3.29% .47% 0% 0% OlderLife Neutral 10.79% 3.76% 6.1% 0% .47% Agree 20.19% 8.92% 2.82% .47% 0% Strongly Agree 6.1% 3.29% 4.23% 1.41% .94% Note. 2=51.038 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.266 p .000 The final independent variable indicati ng a significant relationship with the dependent variable was I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with some of my problems (n=216) (Table 4-14). Partic ipants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neut ral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Only 8 participants St rongly Agreed/Agreed with the item I have used aggressive actions seen on tele vision as a way to deal with some of my problems (3.7%); 24 participants were Neutral on this item ( 11.11%); and more than three-fourths of the participants, 184, Strongly Disagreed/Di sagreed (85.19%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .217 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life. Participants who Strongly Disagree /Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in thei r answers with relation to th e dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is low, .217, the relationship be tween the dependent variable and this item is weak.

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62 The chi-square value for this item is 52.270 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the viol ence portrayed on television produces an unrealistic view of violen ce in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-14. Comparison of the olde r I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in reallife and I have used aggressive actions s een on television as a way to deal with some of my problem s Crosstabulation. TVUse Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 9.72% .46% .46% 0% 0% Disagree 15.28% 4.63% 0% 0% 0% OlderLife Neutral 10.19% 3.7% 6.48% 1.39% 0% Agree 18.52% 10.65% 2.31% 0% .46% Strongly Agree 6.48% 5.56% 1.85% 1.39% .46% Note. 2=52.270 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.217 p .000 Research question 2. Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world? Hypothesis 2. Adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world. The purpose of this question was to determ ine participants’ beliefs and perceptions on their view of violence in the real worl d. By conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic several independent variables indicated the presence of some significant rela tionships. The first independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was After watching violence in a cartoon, I feel angry (n=65) (Table 4-15). Pa rticipants’ responses were broken down into three categ ories: Strongly Ag ree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly

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63 Disagree, Disagree. Close to two-thir ds of the participants, 40, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After watching violence in a cartoon, I feel angry (61.54%); more than one-fourth of the part icipants, 19, were Neutral about this item (29.23%); and 6 participants Strongly Ag reed/Agreed (9.23%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .351 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is moderate, .351, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is slightly strong. The chi-square value for this item is 25.681 with a p .012 and 12 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected.

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64 Table 4-15. Comparison of viol ence on The Simpsons is r ealistic and after watching violence in a cartoon, I feel angry Crosstabulation. CartoonAngry Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Disagree 23.08% 15.38% 9.23% 0% Disagree4.62% 6.15% 12.31% 6.15% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 3.08% 7.69% 6.15% 0% Agree 0% 1.54% 0% 1.54% Strongly Agree 0% 0% 1.54% 1.54% Note. 2=25.681 DF=12 p .012 Kendall’s tau-b=.351 p .000 The next independent variable indica ting a significant relationship with the dependent variable was Shortly after I see violence on Th e Simpsons I become violent (n=71) (Table 4-16). Particip ants’ responses were broken do wn into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutra l, and Strongly Disagree, Di sagree. More than threefourths of participants, 61, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item Shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent (85.92%); 9 participants were Neutral on this item (12.68%); and 1 participants Strongly Ag reed/Agreed (1.41%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .455 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is moderately high, 455, the relationshi p between the dependent variable and this item is strong. The chi-square value for this item is 41.351 with a p .000 and 12 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research

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65 hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-16. Comparison of violen ce on The Simpsons is realis tic and shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I b ecome violent Crosstabulation. SimpsonsViolent Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Disagree 46.48% 0% 2.82 % 0% Disagree18.31% 8.45% 1.41% 0% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 8.45% 1.41% 5.63% 1.41% Agree 1.41% 1.41% 0% 0% Strongly Agree 0% 0% 2.82% 0% Note. 2=41.351 DF=12 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.455 p .000 By conducting chi-square analysis anothe r independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive (n=70) (Table 4-17). Partic ipants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neut ral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than three-fourths of par ticipants, 57, Strongly Disa greed/Disagreed with the item After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive (81.43%); 12 participants were Neutral about this item (17.14%); and 1 participant Strongly Agreed/Agreed (1.43%). Kendall’s tau-b was de termined to have a value of .387 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation wi th the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongl y Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s taub is moderate 387, th e relationship between the dependent variable and th is item is slightly strong.

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66 The chi-square value for this item is 26.264 with a p .010 and 12 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-17. Comparison of viol ence on The Simpsons is r ealistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I beco me aggressive Crosstabulation. SimpsonsAggressive Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Disagree 41.43% 2.86% 4.29% 0% Disagree17.14% 7.14% 4.29% 0% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 7.14% 2.86% 5.71% 1.43% Agree 1.43% 1.43% 0% 0% Strongly Agree 0% 0% 2.86% 0% Note. 2=26.264 DF=12 p .010 Kendall’s tau-b=.387 p .000 Another independent variable indicati ng a significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on Th e Simpsons, I feel angry (n=70) (Table 4-18). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to three-fourths of participants, 51, Strongly Disagr eed/Disagreed with the item After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry (72.86%); 16 participants were Neutral about this item (22.86%); and 3 participants Strongly Ag reed/Agreed (4.29%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .441 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance

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67 in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is moderately high, 441, the relationshi p between the dependent variable and this item is strong. The chi-square value for this item is 63.245 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-18. Comparison of viol ence on The Simpsons is r ealistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry Crosstabulation. SimpsonsAngry Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 34.29% 8.57% 5.71 % 0% 1.43% Disagree7.14% 14.29% 5.71% 0% 0% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 4.29% 2.86% 8.57% 0% 1.43% Agree 0% 1.43% 0% 1.43% 0% Strongly Agree 0% 0% 2.86% 0% 0% Note. 2=63.245 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.441 p .000 By conducting chi-square analysis anothe r independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm (n=70) (Table 4-19). Particip ants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than half of the participants, 37, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After I watching violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm (52.86%); more than one-third of participants, 26, were Neutral about this item (37.14%); and 7 participants Strongly

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68 Agreed/Agreed (10%). Kendall’ s tau-b was determined to ha ve a value of .306 with a p .001. This indicates there is a statistical correlation wi th the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongl y Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall’s ta u-b is low, .306, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is moderately weak. The chi-square value for this item is 37.449 with a p .002 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-19. Comparison of viol ence on The Simpsons is r ealistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm Crosstabulation. SimpsonsCalm Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 21.43% 10% 17.14% 0% 1.43% Disagree2.86% 11.43% 7.14% 5.71% 0% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 0% 2.86% 11.43% 0% 2.86% Agree 0% 2.86% 0% 0% 0% Strongly Agree 0% 1.43% 1.43% 0% 0% Note. 2=37.449 DF=16 p .002 Kendall’s tau-b=.306 p .001 The next independent variable indica ting a significant relationship with the dependent variable was When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me (n=71) (Table 4-20). Participants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagr ee, Disagree. More than half of the

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69 participants, 43, Strongly Disagr eed/Disagreed with the item When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me (60.56%); 16 participants were Neutral on this item (22.54%); and 12 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed ( 4.19%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of -.340 with a p .002. This indicate s there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variab le. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is low, --.340, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is moderately weak. The chi-square value for this item is 31.556 with a p .011 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-20. Comparison of viol ence on The Simpsons is r ealistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me Crosstabulation. SimpsonsBother Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 29.58% 8.45% 7.04% 1.41% 2.82% Disagree7.04% 8.45% 9.86% 2.82% 0% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 5.63% 0% 5.63% 4.23% 1.41% Agree 0% 0% 0% 1.41% 1.41% Strongly Agree 1.41% 0% 0% 1.41% 0% Note. 2=31.556 DF=16 p .011 Kendall’s tau-b=-.340 p .002 The final independent variable indicati ng a significant relationship with the dependent variable was When I see violence on The Simpsons, I look away (n=71) (Table

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70 4-21). Participants’ responses were br oken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to two-thirds of the participants, 46, Strongly Disagr eed/Disagreed with the item when I see violence on The Simpsons, I look away (64.79%); one-fourth of the part icipants, 18, were Neutral about this item (25.35%); and 7 participants St rongly Agreed/Agreed ( 9.86%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of -.320 with a p .003. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is low, --.320, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is moderately weak. The chi-square value for this item is 32.647 with a p .008 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected. Table 4-21. Comparison of viol ence on The Simpsons is r ealistic and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I look away Crosstabulation. SimpsonsLook Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 28.17% 9.86% 7.04% 1.41% 2.82% Disagree5.64% 14.08% 7.04% 1.41% 0% SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 4.23% 1.41% 8.45% 1.41% 1.41% Agree 0% 0% 2.82% 0% 0% Strongly Agree 1.41% 0% 0% 1.41% 0%

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71 Note. 2=32.647 DF=16 p .008 Kendall’s tau-b=-.320 p .003 Research question 3. Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed on The Simpsons is justified? Hypothesis 3. Adolescents percei ve the violence portrayed in The Simpsons to be justified. The purpose of this question was to determ ine participants’ beliefs and perceptions on the justification of violence on The Simpsons By conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable I think violence is justified on The Simpsons, an independent variable indicated the presence of some significant relationships. The independent variable indicating a significant relati onship with the dependent variable was I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems (n=69) (Table 4-22). Pa rticipants’ responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agr ee/Agree, Neutral, an d Strongly Disagree, Di sagree. More than half of the participants, 41, Strongly Disagr eed/Disagreed with th e item I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems (59.42%); about one-third of the pa rticipants, 22, were Neutral on this item (31.88%); and 6 participants Strongly Ag reed/Agreed (8.69%). Kendall’s tau-b was determined to have a value of .594 with a p .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable I think violence is justified on The Simpsons. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree w ith this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the depende nt variable. Since the value for Kendall’s tau-b is high, .594, the relationship between th e dependent variable and this item is strong.

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72 The chi-square value for this item is 55.210 with a p .000 and 16 DF. The chisquare value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of dist ribution, the research hypothesis, adolescents’ perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons to be justified, is rejected. Table 4-22. Comparison of I think violence is ju stified on The Simpsons and I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems Crosstabulation SimpsonsSolve Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Strongly Disagree 34.78% 2.89% 2.89% 0% 1.45% Disagree 5.79% 7.25% 1.45% 1.45% 1.45% SimpsonsJustified Neutra l 4.35% 4.35% 21.74% 1.45% 1.45% Agree 0% 0% 4.35% 0% 0% Strongly Agree 0% 0% 1.45% 0% 1.45% Note. 2=55.210 DF=16 p .000 Kendall’s tau-b=.594 p .000 Other Significant Findings Spearman’s Rank Order Correlation (rho) is used to calculate the strength of the relationship between two conti nuous variables. Several scal e scores were created from various items to compare adolescents’ be liefs and perceptions on various forms of violence. Two scales were determined to ha ve significance correlations coefficients. The first scale is the cartoon viol ence scale, which produced a mean score for adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions on the effects of cartoon violence. The cartoon violence scale was determined to have a Spearman’s rho co rrelation coefficient of .311 when compared to the dependent variable, the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons. Although this is not a stro ng correlation, it can still be determined that if an adolescent has a high cartoon violence scale scor e, there is a positive correlation with the

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73 dependent variable. The second scale is th e unrealistic view of violence scale, which produced a mean score for adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions on the effects of violence creating an unrealistic view of violence in the real world. The unrealistic view of violence scale was determined to have a Spearman’s rho correlat ion coefficient of .492 when compared to the dependent variable, the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life. This is considered to be a moderately positive correlation with the dependent variable, therefore, if an adolescent has a high unrealistic view of violence scale score, there will be a positive co rrelation with the dependent variable. Summary This chapter provided information on th e results related to the primary and secondary research questions stated in Chap ter 1. The following chapter will discuss indepth the results related to the prim ary and secondary research questions.

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74 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION This study was designed to examine the be liefs and perceptions of adolescents on whether or not viewing violence on television co ntributes to an increa se in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, as we ll as the effects humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also explored to what extent the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic and justified by adolescents viewing the show. Lastly, the study examined whether there are differences in adolescent perceptions of violence in The Simpsons content by gender and age. Primary Research Questions To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive be havior and attitudes thro ugh exposure to violence by viewing it on television? To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive beha vior and attitudes through exposure to violence in animation on television? To what extent are adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive be havior and attitudes thro ugh exposure to violence by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons ? Secondary Research Questions 1. Do adolescents perceive that violence portrayed on televisions produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world? Do adolescents perceive that th e violence portrayed in animation/ The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world?

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75 Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is justified? Does gender play a role in the va rying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons ? Does age play a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons? Chi-square analyses were used to anal yze and answer each of these research questions. The group of interest used to an alyze the research que stions was only those participants who responded positivel y to watching television (N=218). Television Viewing Habits In order to get a better pe rception of participants’ television viewing habits, the survey contained items to determine their habi ts. After participants answered positively to whether or not they watch television (N= 218), participants were asked to approximate how many hours of television they watch on an average day. Most participants reported that they watched an average of two hour s of television per day. This amount of television viewing is slightly less than the national average. The average child watches more than two and one-half hours of televi sion per day; while one out of every six children watches more than five hours of tele vision a day (Roberts et al., 1999). In this study, only 18 participants responded they watc h 5 hours of television on an average day. Over half of all child ren have a television in their bedroom (Ki nderstart, 2000), which was also observed in this study. Viewing Violence on Television In order to determine what extent adoles cents’ beliefs and perc eptions are affected regarding the learning of aggres sive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence by viewing it on television, chi-square anal ysis was conducted on several independent variables. Three independent variables were determined to have significant relationships with the dependent variable. Close to half of the participants, 95, Strongly

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76 Agreed/Agreed with the item Boys are more affected by televi sion violence (44.61%). Participants’ responses have a linear concordance with the items which state After watching violence on television, it bothers me and After watching violence on television makes me angry and the dependent variable. This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants’ beliefs and perceptions with these items and participants’ beliefs and percep tions on the dependent variable; The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence on television. Viewing Violence in Animation In order to determine what extent adoles cents’ beliefs and perc eptions are affected regarding the learning of aggres sive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence in animation chi-square analysis was conducte d on several independent variables. Seven independent variables were determined to have significant relationships with the dependent variable; The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons The first independent variable to ha ve a significant relationship with the dependent variable is My favorite type of te levision program is funny Participants’ beliefs and perceptions are consistent with previous research on the seven contextual features of animated violence which states; violence that is portra yed as humorous can increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978). This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants’ beliefs and perceptions between this item and the dependent variable. The next independent variable to have a significant relationship with the dependent variable is Boys are more affected by cartoon violence with more than onefourth of the participants 61, who Strongly Agreed/Agreed (28.91%). This study can conclude there is linear concordance with pa rticipants’ beliefs and perceptions that boys are affected more as a resu lt of viewing violence on both television and in animation.

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77 More than one-half of the participants, 63, Strongly Disagreed/ Disagreed with the item Violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show This is consistent with previous research conducted by Bandura (1965) and his social lear ning theory and how violence that is explicitly rewarded or th at simply goes unpunished increases the risk of imitative aggression, whereas violence that is condemned decreases the risk. The viewing of a perpetrator by an adolescent on television committing a violent act and not getting caught and/or punished can lead to the justification by the adolescent of committing violent acts themselves, since the perpetrator was not punished. This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants’ be liefs and perceptions with this item and the dependent variable. Three other independent vari ables shown to have signifi cant relationships with the dependent variable deal with cues in participants’ environment are: After watching violence in a cartoon, I become violent ; After watching violence in a cartoon, I become aggressive ; and I have used aggressive actions seen in a cartoon as a way to deal with some of my problems This is consistent with previous research on cues in the environment. A condition associated with a ggressive thoughts and feelings progressing into aggressive behavior are cues in th e environment that remind people of media violence they have just seen can trigge r aggressive behavior (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). These cues help to reactivate and sustain the previously primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies. The reactivation of these primed aggressive thoug hts and tendencies leads to the prolonging influence of the violent cont ent in the media (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). Therefore, this study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants’ beliefs and perceptions regarding cues in th eir environment and the dependent variable.

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78 The final independent variable to have a re lationship with the de pendent variable is I like cartoon violence More than one-half of the participants, 60, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item I like cartoon violence This study can conclude participants’ beliefs and per ceptions regarding th eir preferences towards cartoon violence has a linear concordance with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons. Viewing Violence on The Simpsons In order to determine what extent adoles cents’ beliefs and perceptions are affected regarding the learning of aggres sive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence on The Simpsons, chi-square analysis was conducted on several independent variables. Five independent variables were determined to have a significant relationship with the dependent variable; After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive As was seen with viewing violence on television and cues in par ticipants’ environment, cues also play an important role in the beliefs a nd perceptions of partic ipants and violence on The Simpsons Three independent variables which are positively correlated with the dependent variable dealing with cu es are in the environment are: After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry ; When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me ; and Shortly after I see violence The Simpsons I become violent As was discussed earlier, the Cognitive priming theory posits a violent stimuli in the media can activate or elicit aggressive thoughts in a viewer. These though ts can then “prime” other closely related thoughts, feelings, and even motor tendencies st ored in memory. For a short time after exposure, a person is in a state of act ivation whereby hostile thoughts and action tendencies are at the forefront of the mind (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). This study can conclude, consistent with pr evious research, participan ts’ beliefs and perceptions

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79 regarding cues in th eir environment have a linear concordance with the dependent variable. The next independent variable indica ting a significant relationship with the dependent variable was Violence on The Simpsons is realistic More than three-fourths of participants, 54, Strongly Disagreed/Dis agreed with the item violence on The Simpsons is realistic (77.14%). Previous research has shown violence that seems realistic can promote the learning of aggressive attitude s and behaviors among vi ewers (Atkin, 1983). This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between this item and the dependent variable. Television Produces an Unrealistic Vi ew of Violence in the Real World In order to determine what extent adoles cents’ beliefs and perceptions are affected regarding television producing an unrealistic view of viol ence in the real world, chisquare analysis was conducted on several i ndependent variables. Three independent variables were determined to have a significan t relationship with the dependent variable. The first independent variable to have a significant relationship with the dependent variable is The older I get, the more I get us ed to seeing violence in real-life “Media cultivation effects” theory s uggests that television influen ces people’s perceptions of the real world. When adolescents watch an exorbitant amount of violent content on television they develop an exa ggerated fear of being victimiz ed and believe the world is much more violent than it actually is. This perception of the world as a dangerous place is known as the “mean world” syndrome (Bryant, Carveth & Brown, 1981). Participants’ beliefs and perceptions regard ing the independent variable The older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence is consistent with previous research. Close to one-half of the participants, 102, Strongly Disa greed/Disagreed with the item The older I get, the

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80 more I get used to experiencing violence (48.11%). This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants’ beli efs and perceptions re garding an unrealistic view of violence in the real wo rld and how age can be a factor. The last two independent variables indi cating a significant relationship with the dependent variable are When I get mad at so meone, I use violence to solve a problem and I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with some of my problems. As was observed earlier, cues in th e environment play an important role in participants’ beliefs and percep tions. This is consistent with previous research and therefore, this study can conc lude there is a linear concor dance between participants’ beliefs and perceptions regardi ng cues in their envi ronment and their ensuing behavior as a result of these cues. The Simpsons Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World In order to determine what extent adoles cents’ beliefs and perceptions are affected regarding The Simpsons producing an unrealistic view of violence in the real world chisquare analysis was conducted on several independent variables. Six independent variables were determined to have a signifi cant relationship with th e dependent variable; violence on The Simpsons is realistic. These indepe ndent variables deal with participants’ beliefs and per ceptions of their physical reac tions both while watching and after viewing violence on The Simpsons. The two independent variables regarding participants’ beliefs and perceptions of their physical reactions while watching The Simpsons are: When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me and When I see violence The Simpsons, I look away. The other four indepe ndent variable regarding participants’ beliefs and perceptions of their physical reactions after watching The Simpsons are: Shortly after I see violence on The Simp sons I become violent; After I

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81 watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggr essive; After I watching violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry ; and After I watching violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm Consistent with previous research, cues in pa rticipants’ environments affect their beliefs and perceptions regarding how viewing violence on The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world. Res earch has shown for aggressive thoughts and feelings to progress into aggr essive behavior, cues in the environment that remind people of the media violence they have just seen and can trigger aggre ssive behavior (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). These cues help to reac tivate and sustain the previously primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies. The reactiv ation of these primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies leads to the prolonging influen ce of the violent content in the media (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between these independent variables and the dependent variable. Violence Portrayed on The Simpsons is Justified In order to determine what extent adoles cents’ beliefs and perceptions are affected regarding violence portrayed on The Simpsons is justified chi-square analysis was conducted. The independent va riable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems Previous research has shown an attractive perpetrator, or good-looking character, incr eases the risk of learning aggression. According to Bandura’s (1994) soci al learning theory, children as well as adults are more likely to attend to, identify with, and learn fr om attractive role models than unattractive ones. Liss and colleagues (1983) note the most obvious way to make a perpetrator appealing is to make him or her a hero. Mo re than half of the participants, (n=41), Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item I think it is acceptable for my favorite

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82 character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems (59.42%). This study can conclude there is a linear conc ordance between partic ipants’ beliefs and perceptions regarding this item and the dependent variable I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems Summary Overall, the findings from this study provide valuable information regarding adolescents who attended the 2005 State 4-H Congr ess. It is important to emphasize the main findings of this study regarding particip ants’ beliefs and percep tions of adolescents on whether or not viewing violence on tele vision contributes to an increase in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive atti tudes and behaviors, as well as the effects humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons In addition, my study has provided insight into participants ’ beliefs and perceptions about television violence, unrealistic views of violence in the real world, and the justification of violence. Limitations The limitations associated with this present study include Surveys were administered by floor supervisors and not me. Design of instrumentation did not al low for viewing of media examples. The delimitations associated with this present study include Delimitations All subjects could choose not to participate in the study. Both genders were not equa lly represented in the study. There was not an equal representation of ages in the study. Results may be skewed due to small sample size.

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83 The population sampled is not representative of all adolescents’ ages 13to 17years-old in the state of Florida. Two limitations of this study dealt with su rvey administration and instrumentation design. Due to logistical cons traints, floor supervisors ad ministered surveys during the first night of the 2005 State 4-H Congress and no t me. This may have contributed to the lower than expected response rate by male par ticipants. Had I been present to administer the surveys personally and not volunteer floo r supervisors, perhaps the response rate would have been higher due to my presence. In order to have gained a higher response rate, one possible solution would be to have ha d participants view media examples as part of the instrumentation. This would allow fo r more respondents on particular items as well as a more recent exposure to the media. As with all studies, there were severa l delimitations encountered. The first delimitation was that all subjects could choose not to participate in the study since it was a result of voluntary participation. This ma y have contributed to the total number of respondents not being as high as possible. There was potential for close to twice as many participants since ove r 420 adolescents were registered as attending the 2005 State 4-H Congress. This could prove to be very tr oublesome since the sample size could be affected. Another delimitation is that both ge nders might not be equally represented in the study. An equal representation of both genders is helpful when making generalizations about the findings of the st udy. In addition, the number of registered female participants (n=199) outnumbered regist ered male participants (n=46) by nearly 5:1. If there were a larger representation by one gender, the comparisons made would not be very representative.

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84 Since this study looks at whether or not ag e plays a role in th e varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons it is necessary to have an equal representation of age groups. If there is not a repr esentative distributi on of the sample across the age groups, it will be difficult to make generalizations about the findings of the study across the various age groups, unless there is a relatively large sample si ze for each age group. The final delimitation is in regards to the sample population. A census of adolescents aged 13to 17-years old who attended the 2005 4-H Youth Congress in Gainesville, FL was conducted. The populati on sampled is not representative of all adolescents’ ages 13to 17-year s-old in the state of Florida; therefore, the results cannot be generalized to them. However, due to larg e sample size and cross section of age, race, and geographic distribution, this sample may be representative of civic-minded youth in Florida. Implications for Practice In order to properly curb adolescent violence, the be haviors associated with violence need to be identified before they can escalate. These warning signs are: intense anger, frequent loss of temper or blow-ups extreme irritability, extreme impulsiveness, and becoming easily frustrated (American A cademy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004). Parents and teachers ha ve the ability to identify th ese behaviors early on. If a parent or other adult becomes concerned a bout their child’s behaviors, they should arrange for a comprehensive evaluation by a quali fied mental health professional. Early treatment by a professional can often help to correct the pr oblem before it begins. The goals of treatment typically focus on helping the child to: learn how to control his/her anger; express anger and frus trations in appropriate ways ; be responsible for his/her actions; and accept consequences (Ameri can Academy of Child and Adolescent

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85 Psychiatry, 2004). Family conf licts, school problems, and community issues must be discussed as well in order to fully address the whole of the problem. Research studies have shown that much violent behavior can be decreased or even prevented if the above risk factors are significantly reduced or elimin ated. The most important factor in halting violent behavior is focusing efforts at dramatically decreasing the exposure of adolescents to violence in the home, community, and through the media. Parents and teachers are not th e only individuals who can identify these behaviors. Adolescent psychiatrists, pedi atricians and other physicians can play a pivotal role on impacting the effects of adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions on wh ether or not viewing violence on television contribute s to an increase in their ab ilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The American A cademy of Pediatrics has created a list of recommendations to address te levision violence. It suggest s physician’s talk openly with parents about the nature and ex tent of viewing patterns in their homes. Parents should limit television use to 1-2 hours daily and watc h programs with their children. This will allow them to address any objectionable materi al seen and stop the use immediately if necessary. Physicians should make parents and school s knowledgeable about media. They should understand the risks of exposure to violence and teach a dolescents how to interpret what they see on television and in the movies, including th e intent and content of commercials. By doing so, adolescents may be increasingly able to discern which media messages are suitable. Physicians, in their role as health promoters, should become more active in educating media to become more sensitive to the impact of violence on youth. Programmi ng decisions need to be made with the potential

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86 consequences to the viewing audience in mind, and that when violence is present, there are adequate warnings provided to the public. Governmental agencies have set forth polic y and laws to limit the use of violent television content by adolescents. The Fe deral Trade Commission has outlined some recommendations to help in decreasing the ma rketing of violent television content to adolescents. They feel the entertainment industries should es tablish or expand codes that prohibit target marketing to kids of adu lt-rated material and impose sanctions for violations of these codes (Federal Trade Commission, 2000). Not only do the entertainment industries need to stop marke ting adult-rated material to adolescents, but retailers need to observe and enforce the ra tings set forth by the industries. Of the 44 movies rate R for violence reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, 80% were marketed to children under 17 and of 118 el ectronic video games rated Mature for violence, 70% targeted adolescents (Federal Trade Commission). According to a Federal Trade Commission report, just under half of movie theaters surveyed admit children aged 13to 16-years-old to R-rated films when not accompanied by an adult, and kids the same age were able to purchase M rated elec tronic video games 85% of the time (Federal Trade Commission). The National Television Violence Study and the UCLA Television Violence Report have also outlined some recommendati ons to the entertainment industries in regards to the portrayal of violence on televi sion and in movies. Entertainment industries should produce more programs that do not re ly upon violence as a plot device and incorporate anti-violence themes when viol ence is used (Children Now, 1998). There should be an increase in the depiction of punishment for violent acts and show the

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87 alternatives to violence for resolving conflic ts. The implication of justified violence should be avoided. Both the negative short-te rm and long-term consequences of violence for victims, aggressors and their families need to be addressed (Children Now). Entertainment industries need to take into c onsideration viewing times of adolescents and schedule programs with violent themes in late prime time. The Telecommunication Act of 1996 helped to establish a ratings system developed by the television industry in collaboration wi th child advocacy organizations (Federman, 1997). The rating system is as follows: TVY: All Children TVY7: Directed to Older Children TVG: General Audience TTVPG: Parental Guidance Suggested TV14: Parents Strongly Cautioned TVMA: Mature Audience Only The categories for rating are based on a combination of age related and content factors. These ratings are a system parents can base their decisions on what is appropriate for their children to watch. The major problem with any ratings syst em established is the inconsistency between media. Although there may be sim ilarities in the ratings systems of each different medium, there is no single rating system to blanket them all. This makes it difficult for parents to rely on a system to judge what their children should be exposed to. With this difficulty of use, 68% of the pa rents of 10to 17-year-olds do not use the

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88 television ratings system at all (Kaiser, 1999). A majority of parents find the ratings unreliably low. As much as 50% of television shows rated TV -14 were considered to be inappropriate by parents for their teenagers (Walsh, 2001). The ratings systems are age based. This assumes that parents agree with the raters on what is appropriate for their aged child. This is certainly untrue sin ce not all parents would consider the same material appropriate for their child. The creation of a general ratings system as well as observing recommendations laid forth by professional organizations will aid pare nts in determining what is appropriate for their child. Parents are trul y the only ones who can determin e what is appropriate for their child. Even if a blanke t ratings system is created, th ere is still room for user discretion. Recommendations for Future Research To more fully explore the beliefs and per ceptions of adolescents on whether or not viewing violence on television cont ributes to an increase in a dolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, future st udies may be elaborated in several ways. First, future studies on adolescents’ beliefs and perceptions regardi ng television violence may focus on a larger populat ion. This would allow for the data to be analyzed in different ways, which are not possible with a small data set, a nd could possibly yield detailed and expansive results. Second, fu ture studies may use a random sample of a more representative population in order to increase the external validity and the ability to generalize on a larger scale. Since this study was conducted on the beliefs and perceptions of 13to 17-yea r-olds at the 2005 State 4-H Congr ess, the population was not representative of a ll youth in Florida 4-H and all youth in 4-H nationally. Another recommendation for future studies would be to have participants view media examples as

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89 part of the instrumentation. This would al low for a higher response rate to particular items of the instrument as well as a more r ecent exposure to the media. Finally, future studies examining factors contributing to a dolescents’ beliefs and perceptions on whether or not viewing violence on televi sion contributes to an increase in adolescents’ abilities to learn aggressive attitudes a nd behaviors may look at school environment. Although this study did have an item regarding school classi fication, this was not a central focus of this study.

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APPENDIX A INTERNAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTERS

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APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT FORM

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APPENDIX C SURVEY INSTRUMENT

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95 Teens’ Views on TV …. Thanks for taking part in this survey about teens current views on TV viewing and the impact of exposure to violent content on TV, especially the animated series like The Simpsons. While your participation in this survey is important to us to learn more about programs we ca n provide. Your participation in this survey is voluntary. Yo u may elect not to participate or stop at any time. If you do not understand a quest ion as you go through the survey, please ask your floo r supervisor for assistance.

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96 Television Viewing This section asks you about your televisi on viewing habits. Please answer all questions to the best of your ability. 1. Do you watch television? ___ Yes ____ No (If you answered No, go to question 81) 2. I watch approximately _____ hours of television on an average day. 3. Rank the following types of television programs from your Favorite to Least Favorite (1 = Least Favorite and 8 = Favorite ) ____ Action/Adventure ____ Animation/Cartoon ____ Comedy ____ Drama ____ Educational ____ Music Television ____ Reality ____ Sports 4. Do you have a television in your bedroom? ___ Yes ___ No

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97 Beliefs and Perceptions This section will ask you questions about your beliefs and perceptions about violence on television. Please answer all ques tions to the best of your ability. For questions 5-21, place a mark in the appropriate box. SD=Strongly Disagree D=Disagree N= Neutral A=Agree SA=Strongly Agree SD D N A SA 5. My Favorite type of television program (from question 3) is funny. 6. My Favorite type of television program is violent. 7. The older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on television. 8. The older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons. 9. The older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life. SD D N A SA 10. The older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence. 11. Boys are more affected by television violence. 12. Boys are more affected by cartoon violence. 13. Violence is the solution to a problem. 14. When I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem. 15. I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with some of my problems. 16. I have used aggressive actions seen in a cartoon as a way to deal with some of my problems. 17. After watching violence on tele vision, I look away. 18. After watching violence on tele vision, it bothers me. 19. After watching violence on televi sion, it makes me angry. 20. After watching violence on television, it makes me laugh. 21. After watching violence on televi sion, I become violent

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98 Cartoon Viewing This section asks you about your cartoon viewing habits. It also asks you questions about your beliefs and perceptions about cartoons. Pl ease answer all questions to the best of your ability. Think about your Favorite cart oon show (Question #23) to answer these items. 22. Do you watch cartoons? ___ Yes ___No (If you answered No, go to question 81) 23. My Favorite cartoon show is ________________________________. 24. The main character of my Favorite cartoon show is ______________________. For questions 25-50, place a mark in the appropriate box. SD=Strongly Disagree D=Disagree N= Neutral A=Agree SA=Strongly Agree SD D N A SA 25. After I see violence in a cartoon, I look away. 26. After I see violence in a cartoon, it bothers me. 27. After watching violence in a cartoon, it makes me laugh. 28. After watching violence in a cartoon, I feel calm 29. After watching violence in a cartoon, I feel happy. 30. After watching violence in a cartoon, I feel angry. 31. After watching violence in a cart oon, I become aggressive. 32. After I see violence in a cartoon, I become violent. 33. Cartoon violence is funny. 34. In cartoons, the use of hu mor is a good solution to violence. 35. Violence in cartoons is realistic. 36. In cartoons, violence is okay because it is not real. 37. My Favorite cartoon show is violent. 38. My Favorite cartoon show is funny. 39. I like what the main character of my Favorite cartoon show looks like

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99 40. I like the way the main character behaves in my Favorite cartoon show. 41. The main character does something heroic in my Favorite cartoon show. 42. The main character uses weapon in my Favorite cartoon show. 43. In my Favorite cartoon show, the use of weapons is the solution to a problem. 44. The use of weapons in cartoons is cool. 45. Violence goes unpunished in my Favorite cartoon show. 46. The main character of my Favorite cartoon show is punished for using violence. 47. The purpose of my Favorite cartoon show is to make me laugh. 48. The purpose of my Favorite cartoon show is to teach violence. 49. The results of violence are r ealistically portrayed in my Favorite cartoon. 50. I like cartoon violence. The Simpsons This section will ask you about you r viewing habits of the cartoon The Simpsons It also asks you questions abou t your beliefs and perceptions about The Simpsons and Itchy and Scratchy a cartoon show the Simpsons family watches often on television Please answer all questions to the best of your ability. 51. Have you watched the cartoon The Simpsons ____ Yes ____ No (If you answered No go to question number 100) 52. I watch approximately _____ hours of The Simpsons in an average week. My Favorite character on The Simpsons is _____________________________.

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100 For questions 54-65, place a mark (x) in the appropriate box. SD=Strongly Disagree D=Disagree N= Neutral A=Agree SA=Strongly Agree SD D N A SA 54. I like to watch the cartoon show The Simpsons. 55. When I see violence on The Simpsons ,I look away. 56. When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me. 57. When I see violence on The Simpsons, it makes me laugh. 58. After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm 59. After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel happy. 60. After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry. 61. After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive. 62. Shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent. 63. I think violence is justified on The Simpsons. 64. I think it is acceptable for my Favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems. 65. Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Itchy and Scratchy 66. Have you seen the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon in The Simpsons cartoon show? ____ Yes ____ No (If No go to question number 81) Do you laugh when you watch The Itchy & Scratchy cartoon? (Circle one) ____ Yes ____ No

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101 For questions 68-80, place a mark (x) in the appropriate box. SD=Strongly Disagree D=Disagree N= Neutral A=Agree SA=Strongly Agree General Information The final section will ask you some ge neral demographic questions. Answer all questions to the be st of your ability. 81. My age is ______ (Write in your age) 82. My gender is ______. (Write in your gender) 83. What type of school do you attend? ___ Public ___ Private ___ Homeschool 84. Did you attend a workshop today about television violence? ___ Yes ___ No SD D N A SA 68. I like to watch the cartoon show Itchy & Scratchy. 69. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, I look away. 70. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, it bothers me. 71. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, it makes me laugh. 72. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, I feel calm 73. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, I feel happy. 74. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, I feel angry. 75. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, I become aggressive. 76. After I watch violence on Itchy and Scratchy, I become violent. 77. I think violence is justified on Itchy and Scratchy. 78. Violence on Itchy and Scratchy is realistic. 79. I think The Itchy and Scratchy cartoon is violent. 80. I think The Itchy and Scratchy cartoon is funny.

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102 LIST OF REFERENCES American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2004). Understanding violent behavior in children and adolescents. Retrieved April 3, 2004, from www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/behavior.htm 2004 Anderson, C. A., Benjamin, A. J., Jr., & Bart holow, B. D. (1998) Does the gun pull the trigger? Automatic priming effects of weapon pictures and weapon names. American Psychological Society, 9, 308-314. Arnett, J. (1992). Reckless behavior in adol escence: A developmental perspective. Developmental Review, 12, 339-373. Atkin, C. K. (1983). Effects of realistic TV violence vs. fictional violence on aggression. Journalism Quarterly, 60, 615-621. Bandolier (2005). Cross-sectional study. Retrieved March 4, 2004, from http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/ booth/glossary/csect.html Bandura, A. (1965). Influence of models’ re inforcement contingencies on the acquisition of imitative response. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 589-595. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and acti on. A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: prentice Hall Bandura, A. (1994). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 61-90). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Baron, R. A. (1978). The influence of hostile and nonhostile humor upon physical aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 77-80. Belson, W. A. (1978). Television violence and the adolescent boy. Westmead, UK: Saxon House, Teakfield Ltd. Berkowitz, L. (1970). Aggressive humor as a stimulus to aggressive responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2, 359-369.

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103 Berkowitz, L. (1990). On the formation a nd regulation of anger and aggression: A cognitive neoassociationistic analysis. American Psychologist, 45, 494-503. Berndt, T. J. (1996). Transitions in friendship an d friends’ influence. In J. A. Gerber, J. Brooks-Gunn, & A. C. Petersen (Eds.), Transitions through adolescence: Interpersonal domains and context (pp. 57-85). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Brown, J.D. (2000). Can the mass me dia be healthy sex educators? Family Planning Perspectives, 32, 255-256. Bryant, J. Carveth, R. A., & Brown, D. (1981). Television viewing and anxiety. An experimental examination. Journal of Communication, 31 (1), 106-109. Bushman, B. J., & Geen, R. G. (1990). Role of cognitive-emotional mediators and individual differences in the e ffects of media violence on aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 156-163. Cantor J. Mommy, (1998). I'm Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do to Protect Them. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Cline, V. B., Croft, R. G., & Courrier, S. (1973). Desensitization of children to television violence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 450-458. Congressional Public Health Summit (2000). Joint statement on the impact of entertainment violence on children. Retrieved February 17, 2005, from www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/jstmtevc.htm Cooperative State Research, Educa tion, and Extension Service (2005). Cooperative extension service. Retrieved June 2, 2005, from http://www.csrees.usda.gov/ Council of Economic Advisors. (2000). Teens and their parents in the 21st century: An examination of trends in teen behavio r and the role of parental involvement Retrieved September 16, 2004, from www.whitehouse.gov/media/pdf/CEAreport.pdf Dictionary.com (2005). Retrieved June 2, 2005 from http://dictionary.refer ence.com/search?q=media Dishion, T. J. (1990). The family ecology of boys’ peer relations in middle childhood. Child Development, 61, 874-892. Drabman, R. S., & Thomas, M. H. (1974). Does media violence increase children’s toleration of real -life aggression? Developmental Psychology, 10, 418-421.

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104 Dominick, J. R., & Greenberg, B. S. (1972). At titudes toward violence : The interaction of television exposure, family attitudes, and soci al class. In G. A. Comstock & E. A. Rubinstein (Eds.), Television and social behavior: Vol. 3. Television and adolescent aggressiveness (pp. 314-335). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office DuRant RH, Treiber F, Goodman E, Woods ER (1996) Intentions to use violence among young adolescents. Pediatrics DuRant, R. H., Rich, M., Emans, S. J., Rome E. S., Allred, E., & Woods, E. R. (1997). Violence and weapon carrying in mu sic videos: A content analysis. Archives of Pediatrics & Adol escent Medicine, 151, 443-448. Federman, J. (Ed.). (1997). National television violence study: Vo.l 2. Santa Barbara: University of California, Center for Communication & Social Policy. Florida 4-H (2004). Florida 4-H Statistics Retrieved March 7, 2005 from http://4h.ifas.ufl.edu/newsandi nfo/Stats/2003/Statistics2003.htm#4H%20Participation Geen, R. G. (1981). Behaviroal and physiologi cal reactions to observed violence: Effects of prior exposure to aggressive stimuli. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 40, 868-875. Greene, K., Krcmar, M., Walters, L. H., Rubi n, D. L., & Hale, J. (2000). Targeting adolescent risk-taking behavior s: The contributions of egocentrism and sens ationseeking. Journal of Adolescence, 23, 439-461. Griffiths MD, Hunt N. (1998). Dependen ce on computer games by adolescents. Psychology Representative, 82:475-480. Gunter, B., & Furnham, A. (1984). Percepti ons of television violence: Effects of programme genre and type of violen ce on viewers’ judgements of violent portrayals. British Journal of Social Psychology, 23, 155-164. Hapkiewicz, W.G. (1979). Children’ s reactions to cartoon violence. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 8, 1, 30-35 Hicks, D. J. (1965). Imitation and retention of film-mediated aggressive peer and models. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 2, 97-100. Huesmann, L. R., Eron, L. D., Lefkowitz, M. M., & Walder, L. O. (1984). Stability of aggression over time and generations. Developmental Psychology, 20, 1120-1134.

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105 Huston, A. C., Donnerstein, E., Fairchild, H. H ., Feshbach, N. D., Katz, P. A., Murray, J. P., Rubinstein, E. A., Wilcox, B. L., & Zuckerman, D. (1992). Big world, small screen: The role of television in American society. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press Jo, E., & Berkowitz, L. (1994). A priming effect analysis of media influences: An update. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 43-60). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Josephson, W. L. (1987). Televi sion violence and children’ s aggression: Testing the priming social script, an d disinhibition predictions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 882-890. Kaiser Family Foundation. (1999). Kids and media t the new millennium. Menlo Park, CA: Author Kinderstart (2000). TV & elementary kids. Retrieved January 14, 2005, from http://www.kinderstart.com/frame_for _links.php?redirect=http://www.limitv.org/ kids.htm Larson, R., Richards, M. H., Moneta, G., Holm beck, G., & Duckett, E. (1996). Changes in adolescents’ daily interactions with their families from ages 10 to 18: Disengagement and transformation. Developmental Psychology, 32, 744-754. Linz, D., Donnerstein, E., & Penrod, S. (1988). Effects of long-term exposure to violent and sexually degrading depictions of women. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 55, 758-768. Liss, M. B., Reinhardt, L. C., & Fredriksen, S. (1983). TV heroes: The impact of rhetoric and deeds. Journal of Applied Deve lopmental Psychology, 4, 175-187. Lovaas, O. I. (1961). Effect of exposure to symbolic aggression on aggressive behavior. Child Development, 32, 37-44. McIntyre, J. J., & Teevan, J. J., Jr. (1972). Television violen ce and deviant behavior. In G. A. Comstock & E. A. Rubinstein (Eds.), Television and social behavior. Vol. 3, Television and adolescent aggressiveness (pp. 383-435). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office McLeod, J. M., Atkin, C. K., & Chaffee, S. H. (1972). Adolescents, parents, and television use: Adolescent self-report measures from Maryland and Wisconsin samples. In G. A. Comstock & E. A. Rubinstien (Eds.), Television and social behavior: Vol. 3. Television and adolescent aggressiveness (pp. 173-238). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office

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106 Mental Health. (2004) What you need to know about youth violence prevention. Retrieved February 2, 2005, from www.mentalhealth.org/pub lications/allpubs/SVP0054/pathways.asp Naisbitt, J., Naisbitt, N ., & Philips, D. (1999). High tech, high touch: Technology and our search for meaning. New York: Broadway Nathanson, A. I., Cantor, J. (2000). Reducing th e aggression-promoting effect of violent cartoons by increasing children’s fictiona l involvement with the victim: A study of active mediation. Journal of Broadcasti ng & Electronic Media 44 1, 125-143. National 4-H Web (2005). For youth by youth. Retrieved June 7, 2005 from http://www.4-h.org/ Nielson Media Research. (1995). Re trieved March 18, 2004, from www.babybag.com/articles/amaviol.htm Paik, H. J., & Comstock, G. (1994). The eff ects of television violence on antisocial behavior: A meta-analysis. Communication Research, 21, 516-546. Pelletier, A. R., Quinlan, K. P., Sacks, J. J., Van Gilder, T. J., Gulchrist, J., & Ahluwalia, H. K. (1999). Firearm use in Gand PG-rated movies. Journal of the American Medial Association, 282, 428. Rich, M. (2000). Violent Video Games Testimony Retrieved February 15, 2004, from http://216.239.53.104/search?q =cache:N94j_ugDRloJ:www. aap.org/advocacy/ric hvideogameviolence.pdf+violent+media,+ violent+behavior,+adolescents&hl=en &ie=UTF-8 Roberts, D. F., Foehr, U. G., Rideout, V. J., & Brodie, M. (1999). Kids and media at the new millennium: A Kaiser Family Foundation Report. Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Roth, J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). What do adol escents need for healthy development? Implications for youth policy. Social Policy Report 14 3-19. Simpson Crazy (2001). Retr ieved March 19, 2004, from http://www.simpsoncrazy.com/information/articles/values.shtml Singer MI, Slovak K, Frierson T, York P. ( 1998). Viewing preferen ces, symptoms of psychological trauma, and violent behaviors among children who watch television. Journal of American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. 37: 1041-1048.

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107 Smith, S. L., & Donnerstein, E. (1998). Harmful effects of exposure to media violence: Learning of aggression, emotional desensitization, and fear. New York: Academic Press Smith, S. L., Boyson, A. R., Pieper, K. M., & Wilson, B. J. (2001, May). Brandishing guns on American television: How ofte n do such weapons appear and in what context? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Washington, DC Social Research Methods (2002). Unit of analysis. Retrieved June 7, 2005, from http://www.socialresearch methods.net/kb/unitanal.htm Strasburger, V. C. (1997). “Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll,” and the media: Are the media responsible for adolescent behavior? Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 8, 403-414. Steinberg, L. (1999). Adolescence (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill College Thomas, M. H., & Drabman, R. S. (1975). Effect s of viewing real versus fantasy violence upon interpersonal aggression. Journal of Research in Personality, 8, 155-160. Thomas, M. H., Horton, R. W., Liipincott, E. C., & Drabman, R. S. (1977). Desensitization to portrayals of real-lif e aggression as a function of exposure to television violence. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 35, 450-458. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001) Youth violence: a report of the surgeon general. Retrieved April 2, 2005, from www.surgeongeneral.gov/library /youthviolence/report.html Wilson, B. J., Kunkel, D., Linz, d., Potter, W. J., Donnerstein, E., Smith, S. L., Blumenthal, E., & Gray, T. (1997). Vi olence in television programming overall: University of California Santa Barbara study. In National television violence study (Vol. 1, pp. 3-268). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Wilson, B. J., Smith, S. L., Potter, W. J., K unkel, D., Linz, D., Colvin, C. & Donnerstein, E. I. (2002). Violence in children’s television programming: Assessing the risks. Journal of Communication. 52 (1), 5-35. Wotring, C. E., & Greenberg, B. S. (1973). E xperiments in televised violence and verbal aggression: Two e xploratory studies. Journal of Communication, 23, 446-460. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. (1999). Youth risk behavior surveillance – United States, 1999. Retrieved February 23, 2001, from www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss4905a1.htm

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108 Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 61-90). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

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109 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Josh Hirsch attended military school at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, FL. Through the student-run ba ttalion Josh learned self-respect, selfdiscipline, and respect for othe rs. After graduating valedict orian, Josh decided to attend the University of Florida. Here he got his B.S. in advertising with a minor in theater. Deciding to further his edu cation, Josh got a M.S. in family, youth and community sciences. He plans on pursuing a career in youth development.


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Title: Adolescent Perceptions on the Presence of the Seven Contextual Features of Animation Violence as an Indicator of Aggressive Attitudes and Behaviors
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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ADOLESCENT PERCEPTIONS ON THE PRESENCE OF THE SEVEN
CONTEXTUAL FEATURES OF ANIMATION VIOLENCE AS AN INDICATOR OF
AGGRESSIVE ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS
















By

JOSHUA HIRSCH


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005

































Copyright 2005

by

Joshua Hirsch

































I would like to dedicate this paper to Homer J. Simpson. Without him, none of this
would have been possible. D'oh.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank the many people who have contributed to my success and

development as a student and as an individual. First, I would like to thank Dr. Rose

Barnett for being my thesis chair and providing me guidance and direction with not only

my study but life itself. I would also like to extend my thanks to my other committee

members Dr. Gerald Culen, Dr. Heather Gibson and Dr. Joy Jordan for their continued

support, insight and constant belief in me and in my work. It was invaluable to me to

have all four committee members' continued support. I would also like to thank Dr. Ken

Portier and Dr. Glen Israel for their assistance. When it came down to it, they shed the

light on my statistics darkness. I would also like to thank my family: Terry, Elissa,

Jonathan and Lindsey. With all of their love, care and support I was able to finish this

journey. Lastly I would like to thank my Alyssa. My life would not be the same without

her.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

LIST OF TABLES ................................................. ................... viii

A B ST R A C T ................. ...................................................................................... ..... x

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

Purpose/Significance of the Study ........................................................ ..... .......... 1
D definition of T erm s ................. ................................ ........ ........ ...............
R research Q u estion s............ .............................................................. ...... .... .. .....
Prim ary R research Q uestions............................................ ........... ............... 5
Secondary R research Q uestions......................................... ......................... 5
H ypotheses ................................................ 5
A ssum options ................................................................. 6

2 LITER A TU R E R EV IEW .............................................................. ....................... 7

In tro d u ctio n ............................................................................ 7
A adolescence ...................................................................................................... ....... 7
A aggression and V violence ......... ................... .................................... ............... 10
The Problem ........... .. ....................................................................... ..................... 12
A adolescent P patterns of M edia U se.................................................................... ........ 12
T h e o rie s ..............................................................................14
Social Learning Theory .............. .............................. .............................. 14
Cognitive Prim ing Theory ............................ .. ................. ...... ................. 16
M edia Cultivation Effects Theory ...................................... ........ ...............18
Program Content R research ................................................ ........................ 19
The Sim psons............................... ....... .................... 22
Personal Characteristics and Environmental Conditions....................................24
Desensitization.........................................................26
S u m m ary ................................27.............................

3 M E T H O D S ........................................................................................................... 3 0

P population and Sam ple .............................. ...... .............................. .... ...... ...... 30


v









S ettin g s ......................... ................. ...................................3 2
Research Design and Subject Recruitment.............................................. ...........33
Instrumentation ............... ......... .......................33
T television V iew ing ........................... ........ ............................ ...... ............34
B eliefs and Perceptions ............................................... ............................ 35
C cartoon V iew ing .................. .................... .............. ................ 35
T h e S im p so n s ................................................................. ..............................3 7
G general Inform ation .......................... .................... .............. .... ...... ...... 38
D descriptive R results ........................................................... ........ .... 39
A g e .............................................................4 0
School C lassification ......................................... ........ .. .. .. .. .. ........ .... 40
T television V iew ing ............................. .................................. ...... ............40
B eliefs and Perceptions ............................................... ............................ 4 1
C cartoon V iew ing .......................................... ................... .. ...... 42
T h e S im p son s ...............................................................4 2
S tatistic al A n aly sis................................................................................................ 4 3
Prim ary R research Questions............................... ................... 43
Secondary Research Questions............................... .................. 43

4 R E S U L T S .............................................................................4 4

Analysis of Research Questions .......................................... .............. .. ... .... .44
Prim ary R research Q uestions.......................................... ........... ...............44
Secondary R research Questions....................................... ......................... 58
O their Significant Findings............................................................ ............... 72
S u m m a ry ......................................................................................................7 3

5 D ISC U S SIO N ............................................................................... 74

Prim ary R research Q uestions.......................................... ........... ...............74
Secondary R research Questions....................................... ......................... 74
Television V iew ing H abits ........................................ .................. ............... 75
V iew ing V violence on Television ........................................ .......................... 75
V iew ing V violence in A nim ation......................................... ........................... 76
Viewing Violence on The Simpsons ................................................................... ...... ..78
Television Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World .................79
The Simpsons Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World ............80
Violence Portrayed on The Simpsons is Justified.....................................................81
S u m m ary ...................................... .................................................. 82
L im station s ................................................................................................ .... 82
D elim itations................................................................... ........... 82
Im plications for Practice ........................................................................... 84
Recommendations for Future Research .......................................... ...............88

APPENDIX

A INTERNAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTERS .........................................90









B INFORMED CONSENT FORM........................................... ........................... 92

C SU R V E Y IN STR U M EN T ........................................... ..........................................94

L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ......................................................................... ................... 102

BIOGRAPH ICAL SKETCH .............................................................. ............... 109
















LIST OF TABLES


Table page

3-1 Participant gender .................. ....................................... ... ........ .... 39

3-2 Participant ages. ............................................. .. .. ........... .... ....... 40

3-3 School type. .................................................................... 40

4-1 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on
television and boys are more affected by television violence Crosstabulation........46

4-2 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on
television and after watching violence on television, it bothers me
C rosstabulation ................................................... .. ............................ .. 47

4-3 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on
television and after watching violence on television, it makes me angry
C rosstabulation............................................................................................ 48

4-4 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons
and my favorite type of television program is funny Crosstabulation ...................50

4-5 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons
and boys are more affected by cartoon violence Crosstabulation..........................51

4-6 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons
and violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show Crosstabulation ..........52

4-7 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in cartoons
and I like cartoon violence Crosstabulation. ................................. .................53

4-8 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and
after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become angry Crosstabulation. ............55

4-9 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and
shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent Crosstabulation.....56

4-10 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and
violence on The Simpsons is realistic Crosstabulation. .........................................57









4-11 Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive and
when I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me Crosstabulation. .................58

4-12 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life
and the older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence Crosstabulation..60

4-13 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life
and when I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem
Crosstabulation ...................................... ............ ........ 61

4-14 Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life
and I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with some
of my problems Crosstabulation. ........ ......................................... 62

4-15 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after watching
violence in a cartoon, I feel angry Crosstabulation ............................................ 64

4-16 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and shortly after I see
violence on The Simpsons I become violent Crosstabulation.............................. 65

4-17 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence
on The Simpsons, I become aggressive Crosstabulation. ......................................66

4-18 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence
on The Simpsons, I feel angry Crosstabulation..................................67

4-19 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence
on The Simpsons, I feel calm Crosstabulation. ................... ................................68

4-20 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence
on The Simpsons, it bothers me Crosstabulation. ............. ..................................... 69

4-21 Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch violence
on The Simpsons, I look away Crosstabulation. ........................... .................. 70

4-22 Comparison of I think violence is justified on The Simpsons and I think it is
acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve
his/her problem s Crosstabulation ..................................................... ... ............... 72















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

ADOLESCENT PERCEPTIONS ON THE PRESENCE OF THE SEVEN
CONTEXTUAL FEATURES OF ANIMATION VIOLENCE AS AN INDICATOR OF
AGGRESSIVE ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS

By

Joshua Hirsch

December 2005

Chair: Rosemary V. Barnett
Cochair: Gerald Culen
Major Department: Family, Youth, and Community Sciences

The purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents

on whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, as well as the effects

humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also

explored to what extent the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic

and justified by adolescents viewing the show.

Two hundred forty-five research participants between the ages of 13 and 17

attending the 2005 State 4-H Congress participated in my study. A survey instrument

was created, revised, pilot-tested, edited and then administered in dorms during a floor

meeting. The demographic portion of the survey requested information related to gender,









age, and school classification. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and

frequency chi-square tests.

Results showed exposure to violent content by viewing it on television, animation

and The Simpsons does not have effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents'

abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Results also showed adolescents'

beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on television, animation and The

Simpsons do not produce an unrealistic view of violence in the real world. The study has

implications for understanding adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of television

violence, animation violence and violence on The Simpsons. Recommendations for

future research include exploring the effects of school environment on adolescents'

beliefs and perceptions of television violence, animation violence and violence on The

Simpsons.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

When children and adolescents are exposed to violent content in the media, they

have a greater chance of exhibiting violent and aggressive behavior later in life, than

children who have not been exposed to violent content in the media (Congressional

Public Health Summit, 2000). In a longitudinal study, television viewing habits and

aggressive behavior of participants were measured at three different points in time: at the

age of 8, 19 and 30 years (Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz, & Walder, 1984). The results of

the study revealed that among boys, the relationship between viewing television violence

in the third grade and aggressive behavior 10 years later was positive and highly

significant. Exposure to violent content on television during early childhood was

predictive of higher levels of aggression at age 19 (Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz, &

Walder). In contrast to violent content of television exposure at an early age leading to

higher levels of aggression at a later age, aggressive behavior in the third grade was not

predictive of violent television consumption at age 19.

Purpose/Significance of the Study

This study assessed the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents on three separate

levels. The first level is whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an

increase in adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The second

level explored the effects that humor and satire used on the animated television series The

Simpsons have on adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. The









final level explored to what extent the violence portrayed in the show is believed to be

realistic and justified by adolescents viewing the show.

Numerous researches have studied the effects of television and violence (Belson,

1978; Cantor, 1998; Congressional Public Health Summit, 2000; DuRant, Treiber,

Goodman, & Woods, 1996; Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz, & Walder, 1984; McIntyre &

Teevan, 1972; Rich, 2000;). Rich concluded that repeated exposure to violent content in

electronic media can lead to increased feelings of hostility, expectations that others will

behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of others, and increased likelihood of

interacting and responding to others with violence. A study conducted by DuRant and

colleagues found that the strongest single correlate of violent behavior was previous

exposure to violence. Results of correlational studies concluded that children whose

favorite programs were more violent also were higher in overall aggressive and

delinquent behavior (McIntyre & Teevan). Another study found that higher exposure to

violent content on television was positively associated with higher levels of aggressive

behavior (Belson). Research has also found that when children and adolescents are

exposed to violent content in the media, they have a greater chance of exhibiting violent

and aggressive behavior later in life, than children who have not been exposed to violent

content in the media (Congressional Public Health Summit). An example of this can be

seen in a study conducted by Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz and Walder in which they

concluded exposure to violent content on television during early childhood was

predictive of higher levels of aggression at age 19.

Other studies have focused on the contextual features of violence (Atkin, 1983;

Baron, 1978; Berkowitz, 1990; Geen, 1981; Liss, Reinhardt, & Fredriksen, 1983; Wilson









et al., 1997; Wotring & Greenberg, 1973;). Wilson and colleagues identified seven

contextual features of violence that affect the likelihood that a viewer will learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors from a portrayal. The first is an attractive perpetrator

increases the risk of learning aggression. The second contextual feature of violence is the

motive or reason for violence is important. The third feature of violence is the presence

of weapons in a portrayal, particularly conventional ones such as guns and knives, which

can enhance aggressive responses among viewers. The fourth contextual feature of

violence is violence that seems realistic can promote the learning of aggressive attitudes

and behaviors among viewers (Atkin, 1983). The fifth feature refers to Bandura's (1965)

social learning theory and how violence that is explicitly rewarded or that simply goes

unpunished increases the risk of imitative aggression, whereas violence that is

condemned decreases the risk. The sixth feature is the consequences of violence for the

victim are an important contextual cue; explicit portrayals of a victim's physical injury

and pain actually can decrease or inhibit the learning of aggression among viewers

(Wotring & Greenberg, 1973). The final contextual feature is violence that is portrayed

as humorous can increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978).

Despite the substantial body of knowledge on the general link between television

and violence, there is a lack of research on the effects of violence in humorous situations

on television programming. In order to better understand the effects of cartoon violence

on youth, there is a need for more studies (Hapkiewicz, 1979 and Wilson, Smith &

Potter, 2002). This study added to the existing body of knowledge from past research on

adolescents' desensitization towards violent content on cartoon shows for children and

adolescents by focusing on to what extent exposure to violent content on television and









on the animated television series The Simpsons has on adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors. It also focused on adolescents' perceptions of

violence in the real world.

Definition of Terms

* Adolescence: the transition between childhood and adulthood. The exact period of
adolescence, which varies from person to person, falls approximately between the
ages 12 and 20 and encompasses both physiological and psychological changes.
Psychological changes generally include questioning of identity and achievement
of an appropriate gender role; movement toward personal independence; and social
changes in which, for a time, the most important factor is peer group relations.
(Steinberg, 1999)

* Aggression: behavior designed to harm or injure another person (Dictionary.com,
2005)

* Animation: the creation of artificial moving images (Dictionary.com, 2005)

* Cartoon: a drawing depicting a humorous situation, often accompanied by a
caption (Dictionary.com, 2005)

* Cognitive priming theory: a theory of youth development that posits a violent
stimuli in the media can activate or elicit aggressive thoughts in a viewer (Jo &
Berkowitz, 1994)

* Desensitization: to render insensitive or less sensitive (Dicitionary.com, 2005)

* Humor: that which is intended to induce laughter or amusement (Dictionary.com,
2005)

* Media: a means of mass communication, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, or
television (Dictionary.com, 2005)

* Social learning theory: a theory of youth development that posits children can
learn new behaviors in one of two ways: by direct experience through trial and
error or by observing and imitating others in their social environment (Bandura,
1977)

* Television violence: any overt depiction of the use of physical force or credible
threat of physical force intended to physically harm an animate being or group of
beings (National Television Violence Study, Executive Summary, 1996)

* Violence: the exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (Dictionary, 2005)









Research Questions

The purpose of this study was to determine the beliefs and perceptions of

adolescents as to whether exposure to violent content on television and the animated

television series The Simpsons has an effect on the abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors of participants ages 13-17.

Primary Research Questions

1. To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the
learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors through exposure to violence by
viewing it on television?

2. To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the
learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors through exposure to violence in
animation on television?

3. To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the
learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors through exposure to violence by
viewing it in animation in The Simpsons?

Secondary Research Questions

4. Do adolescents perceive violence portrayed on television produces an unrealistic
view of violence in the real world?

5. Do adolescents perceive the violence portrayed in animation/The Simpsons
produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world?

6. Do adolescents perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is justified?

7. Does gender play a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons?

8. Does age play a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons?

Hypotheses

1. Exposure to violent content by viewing it on television has effects on the beliefs
and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

2. Exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons has effects
on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes
and behaviors.









3. Adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in The Simpsons
produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world.

4. Adolescents perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons to be justified.

5. Gender plays a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons.

6. Age plays a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons.

Assumptions

It is assumed that all adolescents participating in this study have a desire to make a

change in their community. It can also be assumed that all adolescents participating in

the study are accurately reporting their perceptions of television violence. The final

assumption is that a census sample will provide significant results.














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

This chapter presents a literature review on adolescence and television violence.

The review includes the following topics: developmental indicators of adolescence,

adolescents' perceptions of television violence, aggression and violence, adolescents'

patterns of media use, developmental theories associated with youth development,

program content, The Simpsons, and other potential risk factors associated with

desensitization to television violence and the abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and

behaviors. The chapter concludes with a summary linking these areas together to set a

research rationale for the present study.

Adolescence

Adolescence is often characterized as a time of challenge and turbulence (Roth &

Brooks-Gunn, 2000). This is a time in which adolescents experience many changes in

their life. They undergo many physical, as well as psychological, changes with the onset

of puberty and throughout. There are several developmental indicators of adolescence.

Identity formation is one of the main indicators of adolescence. Boys and girls begin to

ask questions about who they are and how they differ from their parents (Brown, 2000).

The second indicator is increased independence. During this time, adolescents have more

responsibilities inside and outside of the home. They begin to get jobs and with the

ability to drive at age 16, they no longer need their parents to take them places. Larson,

Richards, Moneta, Holmbeck, and Duckett (1996), found the percentage of waking hours









that teens spent with their families fell from 33% to 14% between the 5th and 12th grade.

Adolescents also are more susceptible to antisocial peer pressure when they have poorer

relationships with their parents (Dishion, 1990). This proves to be a problem since teens

that spend less dinner time with parents have been found to have significantly higher

rates of smoking, drinking, marijuana use, and getting into serious fights (Council of

Economic Advisors, 2000).

Peers are also a very important developmental indicator in an adolescent's life.

Adolescents spend a great deal of time with friends and place a high value on these

relationships. Peers are so influential in an adolescents' life that they will engage in

reckless behavior in order to be accepted by a peer group (Arnett, 1992). This desire for

acceptance can cause adolescents to participate in activities they normally would

otherwise not. One example of this would be membership in a gang.

The media has become a developmental indicator in adolescent's lives. Strasburger

(1997) proposed that the media should now be considered a "super-peer." According to

Strasburger, the messages that are both portrayed in the media and conveyed by the

adolescent are a form of influence or peer pressure. These messages can come in the

form of a negative influence when violence is portrayed in a humorous or rewarding

situation. Adolescents can convey these messages to be acceptable forms of behavior.

Youth spend their time using electronic media an average of six hours and 32 minutes

each day (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999). When considering the amount of time

media consumes in an adolescent's life and Bandura's (1994) Social Learning Theory, it

is understandable to see why Strasburger makes the argument for the media to be

considered a "super-peer."









The fourth developmental indicator of adolescence is risk taking. This is a time of

experimentation with reckless activities (Arnett, 1992). The Youth Risk Behavior

Surveillance System (1999) found that 17% of the teens surveyed in the study carried a

weapon during the 30 days preceding the survey, 50% had drunk alcohol, 27% had used

marijuana, and 42% of sexually active students had not used a condom. With findings

from this study and the fact that adolescents tend to believe they are invulnerable to

negative consequences (Greene, Krcmar, Walters, Rubin, & Hale, 2000), it is not hard to

understand why adolescence is such a trying time.

Television interferes with the development of intelligence, thinking skills and

imagination (Kinderstart, 2000). A crucial element of thinking is being able to

extrapolate from what you know and determine how it applies in a new situation. School

requires this method of thinking, while television does not. Adolescents who socialize to

learn from television have lower than normal expectations about the amount of mental

effort required to learn from written texts, and tend to read less and perform relatively

poorly in school. Habitual television viewing denies the opportunities for adolescents'

imagination to develop (Kinderstart, 2000). They need unstructured time to allow their

imagination skills to form by thinking about a book read or a story heard, a conversation

in the home, or an event in school. The persistence of television sound and rapidly

changing images can condition a child to expect that level of dual stimulation in other

circumstances. The average length of a program between commercial breaks is seven

minutes. This can condition adolescents to have lower level attention spans (Kinderstart,

2000).









Aggression and Violence

There are many different perceptions of the definitions of aggression and violence.

To some individuals, aggression is transferring their emotions into hard work through

exercise. To others, aggression is yelling at the top of their lungs at someone or

something. Aggression is generally defined by research literature as behavior designed to

harm or injure another person. The intent to harm another distinguishes violence from

accidents. Violence is a more serious form of aggression that causes serious harm.

Dictionary.com (2005) defines violence as the exertion of physical force so as to injure or

abuse. Violence is also intense, turbulent, furious and often destructive actions or forces

and can also be vehement feelings or expressions. The National Cable Television

Association (1996) defines television violence as "Any overt depiction of the use of

physical force or credible threat of physical force intended to physically harm an animate

being or group of beings. Violence also includes certain depictions of physically harmful

consequences against an animate being or group that occur as a result of unseen violent

means" (National Television Violence Study, Executive Summary, 1996).

Correlational studies were conducted in the 1970s to determine if children and

adolescents who were heavy users of violent television content also reported higher levels

of aggression. One study that surveyed 2,300 junior and senior high school students in

Maryland asked them to list their four favorite television programs. These programs

were analyzed for violent content and measures of aggression were compiled from a self-

reported checklist of activities using five scales that ranged from aggressive acts (e.g.,

fighting at school) to serious delinquency (involvement with the law). Results of the

study concluded that children whose favorite programs were more violent also were

higher in overall aggressive and delinquent behavior (McIntyre & Teevan, 1972).









Higher exposure to violent content on television has been positively associated with

higher levels of aggressive behavior (Belson, 1978). In a correlational study conducted

by McLeod, Atkin and Chaffee (1972), peer ratings were used to measure levels of

aggression as well as self-reports of willingness to use violence in hypothetical situations

(Dominick & Greenberg, 1972). The findings of these studies conducted across different

areas of the country were consistent. The large sample sizes and representativeness used

in these studies suggest that the causal effects observed can be generalized to a greater

degree.

Not one single causal factor has been linked to episodes of violence. For children

under the age of 13, the most important factors include: early involvement in serious

criminal behavior, early substance use and abuse, being male, a history of physical

aggression toward others, low parent education levels or poverty, and parent involvement

in illegal activities have been identified as predictors of violent behavior. As adolescents

grow older: the importance of friends and peers are much greater, friendships with

antisocial or delinquent peers, membership in a gang, and involvement in other criminal

activity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). In adolescents between

the ages of 15 and 18, the strongest predictors of violence are: weak ties to conventional

peers, ties to antisocial or delinquent peers, gang membership, involvement in other

criminal acts, and substance use and abuse. Possibly one of the most influential factors

on adolescent violence is violent content in the media (Mental Health, 2004), yet research

is still being conducted to investigate its real effect.









The Problem

Children and adolescents are influenced and affected by media that they observe

and interests them. As they develop, they learn by observing, imitating, and making

these observed behaviors their own. Adolescents learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors

by imitating observed models of violence and aggression (DuRant et al., 1996). Repeated

exposure to violent content in the media can, therefore, lead to increased feelings of

hostility, expectations that others will behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of

others, and increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence

(Rich, 2000).

This repeated exposure can also cause adolescents to become desensitized to the

point where they lose their ability to empathize with both the victim and the aggressor.

This is known as the "mean-world" syndrome (Bryant, Carveth & Brown, 1981). Other

predictors of desensitization to violence and the learning of aggressive behaviors are the

presence of the seven contextual features of violence, exposure to violent television as

well as humorous violent television content, age and gender.

The more realistically violence is portrayed, the greater likelihood that it will be

tolerated and learned (Cantor, 1998). Studies have found that there is a wide range of

violent behaviors children and adolescents can exhibit. These consist of: explosive

temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others, use of

weapons, cruelty towards animals, fire setting, intentional destruction of property and

vandalism (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004).

Adolescent Patterns of Media Use

In 1950, only 10% of American homes had a television while today, a television

can be found in 99% of homes (Nielson Media Research, 1995). In a national study









conducted by Roberts, Foehr, Rideout, and Brodie (1999), an in-depth examination of the

media habits of more than 3,000 American children ages 2 to 18 was conducted. The

average child in the United States lives in a home with three televisions, three tape

players, three radios, two videocassette recorders, two compact disc players, one video

game player, and one computer. More than half of all children in the United States have

a television in their room and nearly 30% have a videocassette recorder. The average

child and adolescent in the United States spends an average of six hours and 32 minutes

each day using electronic media (Kaiser, 1999). This is more time than they spend on

any other activity, with the exception of sleeping. The average child watches more than

two and one-half hours of television per day; one out of every six children in this country

watches more than five hours of television a day (Roberts et al., 1999). When multiple

forms of media are used simultaneously the exposure increases to eight hours a day. By

the time an average American adolescent is 18 years old, they will have viewed more

than 200,000 acts of violence, including more than 16,000 murders (American Academy

of Pediatrics, 1995).

The highest proportion of violence was found in children's shows. In programs

targeted to children, of which nearly all are cartoons, violence is far more prevalent.

Roughly seven out of ten children's shows contained some violence, as opposed to non-

children's shows containing six out often incidents (Wilson, Smith, et al., 2002). A

typical hour of children's programming contained 14 different violent incidents, or one

incident every four minutes. On the other hand, non-children's programming featured

about six violent incidents per hour, or one every 12 minutes. Children's programs were

also shown to be substantially more likely than other types of programming to depict









unrealistically low levels of harm to victims compared with what would happen in real

life (Wilson, Smith, et al., 2002).

Theories

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory posits that children can learn new behaviors in one of two

ways: by direct experience through trial and error or by observing and imitating others in

their social environment (Bandura, 1977). Social learning theory posits a child observes

a model enact a behavior and also witnesses the reinforcements vicariously. If the model

is rewarded, the child too feels reinforced and will imitate or perform the same behavior,

although the actions may still be stored in memory and performed at a later date

(Bandura, 1965).

Besides imitation, early research showed that the media could encourage children

to act aggressively in ways that differed from the precise behaviors seen in a portrayal.

An example of this can be seen in a study conducted by Lovaas (1961). In this study,

nursery school children viewed either a violent or a nonviolent cartoon and then were

given two toys with which to play. One toy had a lever that caused a doll to hit another

doll over the head with a stick; the other toy consisted of a wooden ball that maneuvered

through obstacles inside a cage. Compared with those in the nonviolent condition,

children who had seen the violent cartoon used the hitting doll more frequently. This

process, known as disinhibitionn", shows that exposure to violent content in the media

can weaken a child's normal inhibitions or restraints against behaving aggressively,

resulting in acts of violence that are similar but not identical to what was seen in a

program (Bandura, 1965).









Bandura divides the observational learning process into four sub-processes. The

first component is the attentional processes. The only way an individual can imitate a

model is by observing and paying attention to the model. Models often attract our

attention because they are distinctive, or because they possess the trappings of success,

prestige, power, and other winsome qualities (Bandura, 1977). Television is especially

successful at presenting models with engaging characteristics and exerts a powerful

influence on our lives (Bandura, 1977). The second component of observational learning

is retention processes. Stimulus contiguity is the associations among stimuli that occur

together. Bandura (1965) thinks of symbolic processes in terms of stimulus contiguity.

He summarizes experimental evidence that suggests that models can help children learn

to use verbal rehearsal and other techniques (Bandura, 1986).

The third component of observational learning is motor reproduction processes. To

reproduce behavior accurately, the person must have the necessary motor skills (Bandura,

1977). For example, a son might watch his father use a saw but find that he cannot

imitate very well because he lacks the physical strength and agility. From observation

alone, he picks up a new pattern of response but no new physical abilities.

The final component of observational learning is reinforcement and motivational

processes. Bandura distinguishes between the acquisition and the performance of a new

response. One can observe a model, and thereby acquire new knowledge, but one may or

may not perform the responses (Bandura, 1977). Performances are governed by

reinforcement and motivational variables; we will actually imitate another if we are likely

to gain a reward. Performances are also influenced by vicarious reinforcements; the

consequences one sees accrue to the model (Bandura, 1977).









Interactive participation increases effective learning (Griffiths & Hunt, 1998).

Video games are an ideal environment in which to learn violence. They place the player

in the role of the aggressor and reward him or her for successful violent behavior. Rather

than passively observing part of a violent interaction, video games allow the player to

rehearse an entire behavioral script, from provocation, to choosing to respond violently,

to resolution of the conflict. Since video games have been found to be addictive, the

repetition of playing them increases their negative effects (Griffiths & Hunt).

Bandura's original social learning theory was criticized for being too behavioristic,

focusing mostly on reinforcements and how people act. The evolution of his original

theory became known as social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). Social cognitive

theory acknowledges that cognitive processes such as attention and retention are involved

in observational learning. These mental activities place more emphasis on how children

symbolically construe or make sense of a model's behavior. Children selectively pay

attention to different features of a model's behavior, bring forth different experiences to

interpret and evaluate the model's actions, and store different information in memory.

These types of cognitive processes can be used to help explain why some children might

imitate a model but others do not (Bandura, 1986).

Cognitive Priming Theory

Cognitive priming is a theoretical perspective developed by Berkowitz and his

colleagues to explain short-term reactions to media violence (Jo & Berkowtiz, 1994).

Cognitive priming theory posits violent stimuli in the media can activate or elicit

aggressive thoughts in a viewer. These thoughts can then "prime" other closely related

thoughts, feelings, and even motor tendencies stored in memory. For a short time after

exposure, a person is in a state of activation whereby hostile thoughts and action









tendencies are at the forefront of the mind (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). Findings from other

studies support the idea that violent media content can "prime" aggressive thoughts in

people (Bushman & Geen, 1990). An example of the cognitive priming theory can be

seen in a study conducted by Anderson, Benjamin, and Bartholow (1998). In this study,

college students viewed images of guns and other weapons on a computer screen. The

appearance of the guns and other weapons primed aggressive-related thoughts in the

college students.

There are several conditions associated with aggressive thoughts and feelings

progressing into aggressive behavior. The first condition is the person's emotional state.

Individuals who are experiencing negative affect, particularly anger or frustration, are

more likely to be primed to act aggressively by the media because they are in a state of

readiness to respond in a fight-or-flight manner (Berkowitz, 1990). Angered individuals

have been shown to be influenced strongly by media violence (Paik & Comstock, 1994).

The second condition associated with aggressive thoughts and feelings progressing

into aggressive behavior is justification. When violent content in the media is shown to

be morally proper, it can help to reduce a person's inhibitions against aggression for a

short time afterward, making it easier to act out such behavior. Violent content in the

media that is justified can lead an individual to rationalize his or her own aggression (Jo

& Berkowitz, 1994). Paik and Comstock found evidence indicating that justified

violence can facilitate aggression in individuals.

The final condition associated with aggressive thoughts and feelings progressing

into aggressive behavior are cues in the environment that remind people of the media

violence they have just seen and can trigger aggressive behavior (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994).









These cues help to reactivate and sustain the previously primed aggressive thoughts and

tendencies. The reactivation of these primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies leads to

the prolonging influence of the violent content in the media (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). One

example of this reactivation of previously primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies can

be seen in a study conducted by Josephson (1987).

In this study, cueing was demonstrated by exposing second- and third-grade boys to

either a violent or a nonviolent television program. The violent program prominently

featured walkie-talkies in the plot. Immediately afterward, the boys were taken to a

school gymnasium to play a game of floor hockey. At the start of the game, an adult

referee interviewed each boy using a walkie-talkie or a microphone. Results revealed

that aggression-prone boys who had viewed the violent program and then saw the real

walkie-talkie were more aggressive during the hockey game than were those in any other

condition, including boys who had seen the violent shows but no real walkie-talkie

(Josephson, 1987). In accordance with cognitive priming theory, the walkie-talkie served

as a cue to reactivate aggressive thoughts and ideas that had been primed by the earlier

violent program (Josephson, 1987).

Media Cultivation Effects Theory

"Media cultivation effects" theory suggests that television influences people's

perceptions of the real world. When adolescents watch an exorbitant amount of violent

content on television they develop an exaggerated fear of being victimized and believe

the world is much more violent than it actually is. This perception of the world as a

dangerous place is known as the "mean world" syndrome (Bryant, Carveth & Brown,

1981). A strong motivation for some adolescents to carry a weapon, to be more

aggressive, and to "get them before they get me" is the fear of being the victim of









violence (Rich, 2000). In some adolescents, prolonged exposure to violent visual

electronic media leads to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress

disorder further enhancing their fear of the world around them (Singer et al., 1998).

Program Content Research

The Television Violence Monitoring Project conducted from 1995 through 1997

examined the amount of interpersonal violence on American television as well as

contextual variables that may make it more likely for aggression and violence to be

accepted, learned, and imitated. Of all television program examined, 61% contain some

violence and only 4% of television with violent content feature an antiviolence theme

(Federman, 1997). As well as such a low proportion of antiviolence themes, 75% of

violent scenes on television feature no immediate punishment for or condemnation of

their violence and only 40% of programs feature "bad" characters that are rarely punished

for their aggressive acts (Smith & Donnerstein, 1998).

The National Television Violence Study (1998) was conducted to assess the violent

content of programming on broadcast as well as cable television (Smith & Donnerstein).

Researchers randomly selected programming during a nine-month period across 23

channels from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seven days a week. This method produced a

composite week of television consisting of more than 2,500 hours of content each year.

For three consecutive years (1996-1998), the researchers found that a steady 60% of all

program contained some violence. More than 80% of the programs on premium cable

channels featured violence, as opposed to the programming on public broadcasting that

contained less than 20%.

Smith and Donnerstein also examined contextual features of violence. Some

examples of these contextual features are who commits the aggression, whether the









violence is rewarded or punished, and whether it results in negative consequences. Three

general conclusions resulted from the findings. The first conclusion was violence on

television is frequently glamorized. "Good" characters that can serve as role models for

viewers perpetrated 40% of the violent incidents. More than 70% of all violent scenes on

television contained no remorse, criticism, or penalty for violence. The second

conclusion was violence on television is frequently sanitized. Close to half of the violent

incidents on television showed no physical harm or pain to the victim. Less than 20% of

the violent programs portrayed the long-term negative repercussions of violence for

family and friends of the victim. The final conclusion is violence on television is often

trivialized. More than half of the violent incidents featured intense forms of aggression

that would be deadly if they were to occur in real life. Despite such serious aggression,

40% of the violent scenes on television included some type of humor.

Other studies have looked at the contextual features of violence. In one such study,

seven contextual features of violence that affect the likelihood that a viewer will learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors from a portrayal were identified (Wilson et al., 1997).

The first contextual feature of violence is that an attractive perpetrator, or good-looking

character, increases the risk of learning aggression. According to Bandura's (1994)

social learning theory, children as well as adults are more likely to attend to, identify

with, and learn from attractive role models than unattractive ones. Liss and colleagues

(1983) note the most obvious way to make a perpetrator appealing is to make him or her

a hero. Research has shown children are more likely to imitate peer rather than adult

models (Hicks, 1965).









The second contextual feature of violence is the motive or reason for violence is

important. Consistent with the cognitive priming theory, violent actions that seem

justified or morally defensible can facilitate viewer aggression, whereas unjustified

violence can actually diminish the risk of learning aggression (Geen, 1981). Meaning

when a character has a good reason to justify the use of violence, it can lead to the

learning of aggressive behaviors. The third feature is the presence of weapons in a

portrayal, particularly conventional ones such as guns and knives, can enhance aggressive

responding among viewers. Weapons are assumed to function as a violent cue that can

prime aggressive thoughts in a viewer (Berkowitz, 1990).

The fourth contextual feature is violence that seems realistic can promote the

learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors among viewers (Atkin, 1983). An example

of this would be Bart Simpson trying to defend his sister Lisa from bullies by using

karate moves to beat them up. An adolescent can associate the use of violence as an

appropriate means to solve a problem and justify their behavior accordingly. The fifth

feature refers to Bandura's (1965) social learning theory and how violence that is

explicitly rewarded or that simply goes unpunished increases the risk of imitative

aggression, whereas violence that is condemned decreases the risk. The viewing of a

perpetrator by an adolescent on television committing a violent act and not getting caught

and/or punished can lead to the justification by the adolescent of committing violent acts

themselves, since the perpetrator was not punished. The sixth feature is the consequences

of violence for the victim are an important contextual cue; explicit portrayals of a

victim's physical injury and pain actually can decrease or inhibit the learning of

aggression among viewers (Wotring & Greenberg, 1973). For example, the cartoon Itchy









& Scratchy seen on The Simpsons is a horrific cartoon depicting a cat (Scratchy) and

mouse (Itchy) continually attacking and mutilating each other with a variety of deadly

weapons. Both Itchy and Scratchy are fine by the next episode, no matter how mutilated

they were in the previous episode. Since the actual consequences of the injuries

sustained by both Itchy and Scratchy are not portrayed, this can lead to the learning of

aggressive behaviors. The final feature is violence that is portrayed as humorous can

increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978). Humor has the ability to trivialize the

seriousness of violence (Gunter & Furnham, 1984) and that humor also may serve as a

positive reinforcement or reward for violence (Berkowitz, 1970).

The study of humor's association with violence has continued over the years.

When violent scenes involve humor either directed at the violence or used by characters

involved with the violence, positive values can be assigned to viewing acts of violence

and lead to acceptance of these (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001).

These scenes make up 43% of violent scenes observed. Violent interactions on television

involving perpetrators who have some attractive qualities worthy of emulation also have

positive values attributed to them and account for 44% of the violent interactions on

television.

The Simpsons

This study included an examination of the perceived effects of one television show

containing animated violence. The show selected for this study was The Simpsons

because it frames violence with humor and satire and contains imbedded violence. The

animated violence in The Simpsons is often portrayed in a humorous manner. The

Simpsons started out as 30-second long "buffer" cartoons shown before and after

commercials on The Tracey Ullman .\/,,N' and is now the longest running animated









sitcom in primetime network television history. The Simpsons are the fourth longest

running television program, in terms of episodes (Simpson Crazy, 2001). Whether it is

being viewed in syndication on any one of numerous channels or it is Sunday's latest

installment of the new Simpson's episode, sixteen years later it is still creating inventive

storylines appealing to millions.

The Simpsons are your typical nuclear family living in Springfield, USA. Homer is

a father who gives bad advice and works as the safety inspector at the Springfield

Nuclear Power Plant; Marge is a loving, nurturing mother and wife who tries to keep

peace in the family; Bart is a rambunctious 10-year-old; Lisa is a smart, philosophical 8-

year-old, who loves to play the saxophone; and Maggie is the baby, who communicates

by sucking her pacifier (Simpson Crazy, 2001). The cartoon is filled with political satire

and topical commentary, written by Harvard and Yale graduates, marketed towards

youth, and enjoyed by adults. Over the past 16 seasons in the town of Springfield, USA

The Simpsons have not aged a day. It is this agelessness that allows for The Simpons to

be enjoyed by fans of any age (Simpson Crazy, 2001).

The first half-hour episode of The Simpsons premiered on FOX on January 14,

1990 (Simpson Crazy, 2001). Critics and fans alike have acclaimed The Simpsons as one

of television's truest and most hilarious portraits of the American family. The series

received the 1990, 1991, 1995 and 1997 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated

Program. The Simpsons has had a greater impact on the nation than most television series.

The show has created such phrases as "Aye carumba!," "Eat my shorts, man!" and "Don't

have a cow, man!," which have become a part of everyday language for many people

(Simpson Crazy, 2001).









Satire is defined as trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit

vice or folly (Dictionary.com, 2005). The Simpsons uses satire, in relation to violence, as

a means to both convey a message and evoke thought. The intended satirical purpose is

not always the end result. Sometimes the meaning can be construed and adapted to the

individuals thought process.

Personal Characteristics and Environmental Conditions

Various personal characteristics and environmental conditions have been identified

that link youth to violent behavior. These factors are present not only within individuals

but also in every social setting in which they find themselves: family, school, peer group,

and community (Mental Health, 2004). Psychological conditions, poor parent-child

relations (inadequate monitoring or supervision and low parental involvement),

aggression in males, antisocial parents, antisocial attitudes and beliefs, low family

socioeconomic status, abusive parents, and substance use and abuse have also been

identified as influential factors. When race and ethnicity are considered mutually

exclusive from other life circumstances, they are found to not be causal factors in

adolescent violence. Certain situations and conditions can influence the likelihood of

violence occurring. Some of these situational factors are provoking, taunting, and

demeaning interactions.

Adolescents with preexisting tendencies towards aggression and violence, as well

as "normal" adolescents, can both be drawn towards violent content in the media.

Research has shown that certain individuals who have high levels of arousal towards

"sensation seeking" will generally seek out novel and stimulating activities. Another

study has shown that sensation seeking predicts exposure to violent television shows

among adolescents and adults. Other studies have shown that children who are more









aggressive prefer violent television; in one specific study parents who rated their children

as aggressive also rate them as more interested in violent cartoons (Cantor, 1998).

Visual electronic media normalize the carrying and using of weapons and

glamorize them as a source of personal power (DuRant et al., 1997). A study of the top

50 grossing G- and PG-rated non-animated films revealed that 40% of the movies

featured at least one main character carrying a firearm (Pelletier et al., 1999). Of the

films reviewed, a total of 127 persons carried firearms, resulting in a median of 4 1/2

armed characters per film. Nearly all of these movies were comedies or family films

likely to be seen by children. In an analysis of the data from the National Television

Violence Study, Smith et al. (2001) found that 26% of all violent incidents in a composite

week of television involve the use of a gun. Three types of programming accounted for

most of this gun violence: movies (54%), dramatic series (19%), and children's shows

(16%). A child viewer on average will see nearly two gun-related violent incidents every

hour that he or she watches television.

Heroes on television and movies use violence as an efficient means of positive

conflict resolution. They use it frequently and without regard of the consequences.

Heroes become role models for adolescents because they are rewarded for their violent

behavior. This misconception can lead to a justification for using violence to retaliate

against perceived aggressors and a means to solve their problems.

Parents may be overburdened and self-absorbed and fail to give their children the

nurturing, guidance, and control they need early in life to help them develop compassion,

establish attachments, and learn boundaries (Kinderstart, 2000). This lack of parental

involvement plays a critical role in the exposure of violent content in the media by









children and adolescents. Due to the fact that over half of all children have a television

set in their bedrooms and the increased use of the television as a babysitter, parents are

less likely to restrict what their children are being exposed to in the media (Kinderstart,

2000). Without parental guidance, adolescents are given an open doorway to the world

of violent content in the media.

Desensitization

Through prolonged use of the media, adolescents can become desensitized to the

point where they lose their ability to empathize with both the victim and the aggressor.

One study found that boys who were heavy viewers of television exhibited less

physiological arousal during selected scenes from a violent film than did light viewers

(Cline, Croft, & Courrier, 1973). Another study found that both children and adults were

less physiologically aroused by a scene of real-life aggression if they had previously

watched a violent drama on television than if they had watched a nonviolent program

(Thomas, Horton, Lippincott, & Drabman, 1977). In the book High Tech, High Touch:

Technology and Our Search for Meaning, Naisbitt, Naisbitt, and Phillips (1999) discuss

the culture of electronic violence. They say, "The images that once caused us to

empathize with the pain and trauma of another human being excite a momentary

adrenaline rush. To be numb to another's pain is arguably one of the worst consequences

our technological advances have wrought. That indifference transfers from the screen,

television, film, Internet, and electronic games to our everyday lives through seemingly

innocuous consumer technologies."

Experiments have been conducted to determine if desensitization as a result of

violent content in the media affects an individual's willingness to help a victim in

distress. Thomas and Drabman (1975) exposed first and third graders to either a violent









or a nonviolent television program. After viewing the programs, they were placed in

charge of monitoring the behavior of two preschoolers at play. Older children who had

seen the violent television program were significantly slower in seeking help when the

preschoolers broke into a fight than were those who had seen the nonviolent show

(Thomas & Drabman, 1975). Emerging adults, adolescents 18-23 years old, have been

shown to become desensitized towards violence as well. A study conducted by Linz,

Donnerstein, and Penrod (1988) exposed male undergraduates to five full-length

"slasher" films depicting violence against women. After each film, emotional reactions,

perceptions of violence in the films, and attitudes toward the women in the films were

measured. In accordance with desensitization, males perceived less violence in the films

and evaluated the films as less degrading to women over the course of the exposure

period.

Summary

This chapter discussed the important findings surrounding adolescent's perceptions

towards violent content on television. It reported that through prolonged use of the

media, adolescents could become desensitized to the point where they lose their ability to

empathize with both the victim and the aggressor. This chapter also reported on research

on Bandura's Social Learning Theory and Berkowitz's Cognitive Priming Theory,

finding that adolescents learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors by imitating observed

models of violence and aggression.

The focus of this study is on the effects that violent television content has on

adolescents' beliefs and perceptions. Several key factors contribute to, or predict,

desensitization to violence and the learning of aggressive behavior. The first key factor is

the presence of the seven contextual features of violence. Research has shown that the









presence of the seven contextual features of violence contribute to the likelihood that a

viewer will learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors from a portrayal (Wilson et al.,

1997). Some of the contextual features of violence are: that an attractive perpetrator

increases the risk of learning aggression, the motive or reason for violence is important in

facilitating viewer aggression and desensitization, the presence of weapons in a portrayal

can enhance aggressive responding among viewers, and violence that seems realistic can

promote the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors among viewers.

Another predictor of desensitization to violence and the learning of aggressive

behavior is exposure to violent television content. According to Bandura, through the

process of"disinhibition", exposure to violent content in the media can weaken a child's

normal inhibitions or restraints against behaving aggressively. This disinhibitionn"

results in acts of violence that are similar but not identical to what was seen in a program.

Research has also found that both children and adults were less physiologically aroused

by a scene of real-life aggression if they had previously watched a violent drama on

television than if they had watched a nonviolent program (Thomas, Horton, Lippincott, &

Drabman, 1977).

Exposure to humorous violent television content is another predictor of

desensitization to violence and the learning of aggressive behavior. In a study conducted

by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2001), a major conclusion was

that positive values can be assigned to viewing acts of violence and lead to acceptance of

these violent scenes involving humor either directed at the violence or used by characters

involved with the violence. Research has shown that when violence is portrayed as

humorous, it can increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978). Other studies have









shown that humor has the ability to trivialize the seriousness of violence (Gunter &

Furnham, 1984) and that humor also may serve as a positive reinforcement or reward for

violence.

Two other important predictors of adolescents' desensitization to violence and the

learning of aggressive behavior are age and gender. Perceptions of violence varies as

adolescents grow older and between genders. There are many factors that can affect

adolescents' desensitization towards violent television content. This study focused on

examining adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of exposure to violent television content

and the presence of the seven contextual features of violence (independently) and

whether they affect adolescents' and their own beliefs and perceptions on desensitization

towards violent television content and the ability to learn aggressive attitudes and

behaviors.














CHAPTER 3
METHODS

This purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and perceptions of

adolescents on whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, as well as the effects

humor and satire used in the animated television series The Simpsons have on

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also

explored to what extent the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic

and justified by adolescents viewing the show. Lastly, the study examined whether there

are differences in adolescent perceptions of violence in The Simpsons content by gender

and age.

This chapter discusses the population and sampling procedure, research design,

instrumentation, data collection, and statistical analyses for the present study. The

information in these sections describe all procedures, methods, and analyses for the study

that worked toward the study's goal of examing the effects humor and satire in The

Simpsons have on adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of their abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors and their desensitization towards violence.

Population and Sample

The population is adolescents in 4-H ages 13-17 attending the 2005 State 4-H

Congress in Gainesville at the University of Florida. 4-H is the youth education branch of

the Cooperative Extension Service, a program of the United States Department of

Agriculture (National 4-H Web, 2005). Cooperative Extension Service advances









knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and

communities through national program leadership and federal assistance (Cooperative

Extension, 2005).

The total number of youth ages 5-18 participating in Florida 4-H in September

2002 through August 2003 was 241,487. There were 22,858 4-H clubs and 251,245

school enrichment programs across all of Florida's 67 counties and on the Seminole

Tribes reservations in south Florida (Florida 4-H Statistics, 2004). The gender

compositions of these 4-H programs were 51% (123,427) female and 49% (118,060)

male. Thirty-two percent of the youth involved with Florida 4-H programs are from

minority, racial or ethnic groups with 68% (164,421) White/Caucasian, 19% (46,005)

Black/African American, 11% (26,741) Hispanic, 1.1% (2,809 youth) Asian, and .6%

(1,511) American Indian/Pacific Islander.

These youth live in all different types of environments. The majority of youth

involved with Florida 4-H, 38.6% (93,202), live in towns and cities with a population

between 10,000 and 50,000 people. Towns with under 10,000 people and in open

country have the second most youth involved in Florida 4-H, 27.4% (66,363). Third are

youth living in central cities with populations over 50,000 people, 22% (53,327). Fourth

are youth living in suburbs of cities with populations over 50,000, 8% (19,453). The

least number of youth involved with Florida 4-H live on farms, 3.7% (9,142) (Florida 4-

H Statistics, 2004). The majority of youth involved with Florida 4-H are in first through

fifth grades, 62.8% (151,707). Next are youth in sixth through eight grades, 24.7%

(59,877). Third are youth in kindergarten, 10.4% (13,960). Fourth are high school aged

youth in grades ninth through twelfth, 4.6% (11,210). The fewest number of youth









involved with Florida 4-H are not in school/post high school, 1.6% (3,786) and special

education, .4% (947) (Florida 4-H Statistics, 2004).

The sample for this study consisted of a group of 13- to 17-year-old adolescents

attending the 2005 State 4-H Congress in Gainesville at the University of Florida, who

elected to participate after the purpose of the study was introduced and explained. The

final sample was 245 individuals.

Settings

The study was conducted at State 4-H Congress in Gainesville at the University of

Florida. State 4-H Congress is a gathering of young people from throughout the state

experiencing educational workshops, competitive events, organizational activities, and

learning about life on a campus. Youth may choose to participate in Congress, but may

also be selected to participate based on a district competitive event. Other youth may

come to be a part of the State 4-H Council, an organization of teenagers dedicated to

learning leadership. Congress participants are engaged in educational workshops, group-

learning activities, and socialization process while housed at the University of Florida.

The participants were informed of the study during a floor meeting on Monday,

July 25, 2005. Data were collected that same evening in the dorms during this floor

meeting. The participants were briefed on the topic, benefits/risks, expected length of

completion, and who to contact with questions or concerns. Prior to attending the State

4-H Congress, blanket consent forms were sent to participants' homes in informational

packets. These forms acknowledged and gave permission for conference attendees to

participate in studies at the State 4-H Congress. Confidentiality was ensured through the

anonymous format of the survey. Participants were never asked for their name on the

instrument. In addition, participants gave the completed surveys to the floor supervisors









face down. Identification numbers were later assigned for data analysis after the surveys

had been randomly mixed.

Research Design and Subject Recruitment

This study is a cross-sectional which is the observation of a defined population at a

single point in time or time interval. The unit of analysis, or the major entity that is being

analyzed in a study, is the individual (Social Research Methods, 2005). Recruitment of

subjects was on a voluntary basis. This study is considered cross-sectional because the

population being observed and measured at a single point in time. The sample was

limited to those youth who volunteered and consented to participate. Floor supervisors

gave the participants an introduction to the topic, a list of all of the benefits and risks, the

expected length of completion, and who to contact with questions or concerns. Potential

participants were given the option of whether they would like to be informed of the

results of the study. Participants' exposure and outcomes were measured through the

instrumentation. Exposure and outcome are determined simultaneously (Bandolier,

2005).

Instrumentation

The survey instrument consisted of 84 items and is comprised of a General

Information section and four content sections. The four content sections are: Television

Viewing, Beliefs and Perceptions, Cartoon Viewing, and The Simpsons. Likert scalar

response style and fill-in question types were used in the survey instrumentation. The

instrument was pilot-tested by a group of four local high school students. A second

revision of the instrument was pilot tested by four local high school students and a team

of adolescent experts. A scale considered to have good internal consistency has a

Cronbach alpha coefficient reported of .85. In the current study the Cronbach alpha









coefficient was .825. This scale can be considered to have good internal consistency for

use in future studies.

Previous research studies have shown that the more realistically violence is

portrayed on television, the greater likelihood it will be tolerated and learned (Cantor,

1998). This is one of the seven contextual features of violence that can lead a viewer to

learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors from a portrayal (Wilson et al., 1997). When

any or all of the seven contextual features of violence are present in television content,

the viewer has a greater chance of learning aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Specific

items of this instrument focused on the seven contextual features of violence and

adolescents' beliefs and perceptions as a result of these being present. Analyses of the

results of these items were useful in determining adolescents' beliefs and perceptions in

regards to the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Items were scored on a one,

Strongly Disagree, to five, Strongly Agree, Likert scale. In those instances where reverse

coding was needed, it was done prior to data analysis.

Television Viewing

The first content section, items one through four, examined television-viewing

habits of the participants. Items one through four asked about the amount of television

viewed by the participants in a certain amount of time. The first item of this section, one,

asked participants whether or not they watch television. This questions functions as a

screening item. If they answer "No" to this question, they are instructed to go to item

number 81, the first item in the General Information section. The results of these items

were useful in analyzing the frequency of television viewing. There is a growing trend of

the television being used as a babysitter by parents, as well as the perception of the

television functioning as a "super-peer" by youth (Strasburger, 1997). Item four asked









about the presence of a television in the participant's bedroom. Since a television is

present in over 53% of children's bedrooms ages 2- 18-years-old, parents of these youth

are less likely to restrict what their children are being exposed to in the media (Roberts et

al., 1999; Kinderstart, 2000). Analyses of this entire section helped determine the

viewing habits of adolescents and the relative importance placed upon television in the

home.

Beliefs and Perceptions

The second content section, items five through 21, examined participants' general

beliefs and perceptions on whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an

increase in adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Analyses of

the results helped in determining participants' beliefs and perceptions on the

consequences of television violence.

Cartoon Viewing

The second content section, items 22 through 50, examined cartoon violence. The

first item of this section asked participants whether or not they watch cartoons. This item

functions as a screener. If they answer "No" to this question, they are instructed to go to

question number 81. Items 25 through 32, addressed the participants' moods during and

after viewing a violent situation. Analysis of the results of these items helped in

determining whether or not a correlation existed between the perception of the realism of

cartoon violence and the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors. A positive

attraction towards violent content being observed on television could mean not only

acceptance of violent content on television, but also the violence in the content being

justified since their beliefs and perceptions of the violent content is that the violence is

acceptable.









Another contextual feature of violence is that an attractive perpetrator increases the

risk of learning aggression. When the attractive perpetrator takes the role of a hero, the

likelihood of learning aggression greatly increases (Liss et al., 1983). Also, viewers pay

more attention to and identify with same-sex characters as opposed to those of the

opposite-sex (Bandura, 1986). Item 39 asked whether or not the participant liked what

the main character of their favorite cartoon likes like, and item 40 asked whether or not

the participant liked the way the main character of their favorite cartoon behaves. Item

41 asked the participants whether or not they believed the main character of their favorite

cartoon behaved in a heroic manner. The analyses of the results of these items provide a

correlation between the attractiveness and acceptance of the main character of a carton

and the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

The third contextual feature of violence is the presence of weapons in a portrayal,

particularly conventional ones such as guns and knives, can enhance the learning of

aggressive attitudes and behaviors (Berkowitz, 1990), items 42 through 44 address this

contextual feature of violence. Item 42 asked the participants if the main character of

their favorite cartoon uses weapons. The results of this item showed the frequency of use

of weapons within their favorite cartoon. Item 43 asked if weapons were the answer to a

problem in a cartoon. Analyses of the results of this item showed the beliefs and

perceptions of participants on the acceptance of the use of weapons within participants'

favorite cartoons. The analyses of the results of these items found a de-emphasis on the

severity attributed to weapons and participants' beliefs and perceptions regarding the

ability to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors.









The next contextual feature of violence states that when violence is explicitly

rewarded or goes unpunished it can increase the risk of learning aggressive attitudes and

behaviors (Bandura, 1965). Item 46 address this contextual feature of violence by asking

the participants if the main character of their favorite cartoon is punished for using

violence. Analysis of the results of this item helped in determining whether a

relationship exists between the portrayals of violence and the results exhibited as well as

showing participants' beliefs and perceptions on the justification of violence within their

favorite cartoon.

The next contextual feature says that the consequences of violence for the victim

are an important cue; explicit portrayals of a victim's physical injury and pain actually

can inhibit the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors (Baron, 1978). The

analyses of the results of item 49, which asked whether or not the results of violence are

show in my favorite cartoon, showed participants' beliefs and perceptions regarding the

ability to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors when any or all of the seven contextual

features of violence are present.

The last item of this section asked participants whether or not they like cartoon

violence. The analysis of the results of this question helped in establishing a comparison

between two subsets of participants, those who like cartoon violence and those who do

not. This was useful when drawing final conclusions about the characteristics of

participants and their preferences.

The Simpsons

The next content section, items 51 through 80, examined participants viewing

habits and perceptions of The Simpsons. This section is similar in comparison to the

previous content section but the focus of this section is The Simpsons. The first item, 51









asked the participant if they have ever watched the cartoon The Simpsons. This question

acts as a screening item. If the participant answers "No" to this question, they are

instructed to skip this section and go to question number eighty-one, if the participant

answers "Yes" to this question, they are instructed to continue on to the next question.

Item 52 measures the participants' frequency of viewing The Simpsons, analysis of the

results of this item helped in determining the amount of heavy versus light viewers of The

Simpsons.

As discussed earlier, when violence is explicitly rewarded or goes unpunished it

can increase the risk of learning aggressive attitudes and behaviors. In other words, if the

violence appears to be justified it contributes to learning of aggressive attitudes and

behaviors. Item 63 asked participants if they believe the violence on The Simpsons is

justified. Analysis of the results of this item helped in determining a correlation between

participants' beliefs and perceptions on the portrayals of violence and whether or not they

are justified.

Item 64 asked the participants' about their beliefs and perceptions in regards to

their favorite character using violence to solve their problem. As discussed earlier,

presence of an attractive character contributes to learning of aggression. Analysis of the

results of this item helped to determine whether a relationship exists between

participants' beliefs and perceptions on the ability to learn aggressive attitudes and

behaviors from an attractive character.

General Information

The first two general information items ask for the participant's age and gender in

order to conduct analyses by age and gender differences. The final question of the

General Information section asks about the type of school the participant attends. This









information is useful in determining whether there are differences in perceptions and

beliefs held by youth vary by type of school attended.

Descriptive Results

The sample consisted of 245 participants. A complete breakdown of the

demographic characteristics of the sample can be examined in tables throughout the

chapter. In addition, results were reported individually by gender and as a whole sample.

Gender

Girls made up more than three-quarters of the sample (82.2%), or 199 of the 245

participants, and boys composed less than a quarter of the sample (17.8%), or 43 of the

245 participants. The gender breakdown of this study was consistent with the

assumptions created during data collection. Registered female participants, (N=288), at

the 2005 State 4-H Congress outnumbered male participants, (N=140). Due to data

collection occurring at the 2005 State 4-H Congress, a majority-female gender

breakdown was expected. However, the higher than expected female response rate is

also accounted for by an overall higher willingness by females to participate in the study,

as an approximately equal opportunity for all youth participants was made available on

each dorm floor.

Table 3-1. Participant gender.
Gender Frequency Valid Percent
Female 199 82.2
Male 43 17.8
Total 242 100.0









Age

The ages of participants in the study ranged from 13 years old to 19 years old.

Table 3-2. Participant ages.
Age Frequency Valid Percent
13 5 2.44
14 39 19.02
15 60 29.27
16 59 28.78
17 42 20.49
Total 205 100.0

School Classification

All of the study participants were members of 4-H and attended either public

school (55.9%), private school (8.2%) or were home schooled (33.1%).

Table 3-3. School type.
School Frequency Valid Percent
Public 137 57.6
Private 20 8.4
Home 81 34.0
Total 238 100.0

Television Viewing

This section of the survey helped provide in-depth information on the viewing

habits of participants. These specific questions include items about whether or not

participants watched television, approximately how many hours of television they watch

on an average day, and whether or not they have a television in their bedroom. The first

item about television viewing was used as a screening question. The sample reported 218

of 239 (91.2%) participants watch television, 21 of 239 (8.8%) participants do not watch

television.

Another item in this section asked participants about their approximate amount of

television viewing on an average day. The highest frequency hours of television watched









in an average day was two, reported by 49 out of 206 (23.8%) participants. The second

highest frequency hours of television watched in an average day was one, reported by 41

out of 206 (19.9%) participants. The third highest frequency hours of television watched

in an average day was three, reported by 29 out of 245 (14.1%) participants. Twenty out

of 206 (9.7%) participants answered they watched four hours of television on an average

day and 18 out of 206 (8.7%) participants answered they watched five hours of television

on an average day. The mean hours of television watched by girls on an average day was

slightly higher than boys at 2.96 hours versus 2.68 hours. When participants were asked

if they have a television in their bedroom, it was pretty much half and half: 108 out of

216 (50%) participants do not have a television in their bedroom and 106 out of 216

(50%) participants do have a television in their bedroom.

Beliefs and Perceptions

This section asked participants about their beliefs and perceptions about violence

on television. Participants were asked about their favorite type of television program,

how age affects their perceptions of violence, how gender affects their perceptions of

violence, whether or not they display aggressive tendencies, and what they do after

watching violence on television. When participants were asked whether their favorite

type of television program is funny, a little more than one-third of participants 81 out of

217 (37.3%) strongly agreed, more than one-fourth of participants 60 out of 245 (27.6%)

were neutral, 57 out of 217 (26.3%) participants agreed, 11 out of 217 (5.1%) participants

disagreed, and eight out of 217 (3.7%) participants strongly disagreed. Participants were

also asked if they believed their favorite type of television program is violent. The

majority of participants either strongly disagreed or disagreed, 66 out of 214 (30.8%) and

61 out of 214 (28.5%) respectively. Forty-four out of 214 (20.6%) participants were









neutral, 32 out of 214 (15%) participants agreed, and 11 out of 214 (5.1%) participants

strongly agreed.

Cartoon Viewing

This section asked participants about their cartoon viewing habits as well as their

beliefs and perceptions about cartoons. As in the Television Viewing section, the first

item is a filter question. The sample reported 108 out of 214 (50.5%) participants watch

cartoons and 106 out of 214 (49.5%) participants do not watch cartoons.

The Simpsons

This section asked participants about their viewing habits of the cartoon The

Simpsons. It also asked participants about their beliefs and perceptions about The

Simpsons and Itchy and Scratchy, a cartoon show the Simpsons family watches often on

television. As in the Television and Cartoon Viewing sections, the first item is a filter

question. The sample reported 73 out of 116 (62.9%) participants watch The Simpsons

and 43 out of 116 (37.1%) participants do not watch The Simpsons.

Another item in this section asked participants about their approximate amount of

hours of The Simpsons they view in an average week. The highest frequency hours of

The Simpsons watched in an average week was one, with 19 out of 68 (27.9%)

participants. The second highest frequency hours of The Simpsons watched in an average

week was one-half, with 11 out of 68 (16.2%) participants. The third highest frequency

hours of The Simpsons watched in an average week was three, with nine out of 68

(13.2%) participants. Six out of 68 (8.8%) participants answered they watched two hours

of television in an average week and two out of 68 (2.9%) participants answered they

watched five hours of The Simpsons in an average week.









Statistical Analysis

Data analysis included basic descriptive statistics of all the items.

Primary Research Questions

In order to investigate the primary research questions, which ask to what extent are

adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the learning of aggressive

behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence by viewing it on

television/cartoons/The Simpsons, chi-square analysis, along with Kendall's Tau-b, was

conducted.

Secondary Research Questions

In order to examine adolescents' perceptions of violence portrayed on television

and in The Simpsons and what effects it has on their unrealistic views of violence in the

real world chi-square analysis was conducted. The next secondary research question

addresses adolescents' perceptions of the justification of violence portrayed in The

Simpsons. chi-square analysis, along with Kendall's Tau-b, was conducted to examine

these perceptions.

All of these statistical analyses were completed utilizing SPSS (version 12.0).














CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

The primary purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and perceptions of

adolescents on whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, as well as the effects

humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also

explored the extent to which the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be

realistic and justified by adolescents viewing the show. Lastly, the study examined

whether there are differences in adolescent perceptions of violence in The Simpsons

content by gender and age. Results for all of these questions are discussed in this chapter.

The chapter concludes with additional significant results that were not directly related to

primary or secondary research questions.

Analysis of Research Questions

Primary Research Questions

Research Question 1. To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions

affected regarding the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors through exposure to

violence by viewing it on television?

Hypothesis 1. Exposure to violent content by viewing it on television has effects

on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and

behaviors.









The purpose of this question was to determine if there is a relationship between

participants' beliefs and perceptions and exposure to television violence. Conducting

chi-square analysis on the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they

are seeing violence on television and several independent variables indicated the presence

of some significant relationships. The first independent variable with a significant

relationship with the dependent variable was Boys are more affected by television

violence (n=213) (Table 4-1). Participants' responses were broken down into three

categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to

half of the participants, 95, Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item Boys are more affected

by television violence (44.61%); 76 participants were Neutral about this item (33.68%);

and 42 participants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (19.72%). Kendall's tau-b was used to

test concordance. It has a value of .195 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a

statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to

they are seeing violence on television. Participants who Strongly Agree/Agree with this

item will have linear concordance in their answers in relation to the dependent variable.

Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is relatively low, .195, the relationship between the

dependent variable and this item is weak. Kendall's tau-b is a nonparametric measure of

association based on the number of concordance and discordances in paired observations.

Concordance occurs when paired observations vary together, and discordance occurs

when paired observations vary differently (SAS Institute, 1999).

The chi-square value for this item is 45.612 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research









hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it on television has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-1. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on
television and boys are more affected by television violence Crosstabulation
BoysTV
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 1.41% 1.41% .47% .94% 0%
Disagree
Disagree .94% 0% 2.82% 2.35% 1.41%
OlderTV Neutral 2.35% 2.35% 7.04% 6.57% 2.35%
Agree 2.35% 7.51% 19.72% 12.68% 4.23%
Strongly 7.98% .47% 5.63% 5.63% 8.45%
Agree
Note. x2=45.612 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.195 p > .001

By conducting chi-square analysis another significant relationship was determined

between the independent variable which states After watching violence on television, it

bothers me, and the dependent variable (n=214) (Table 4-2). Participants' responses

were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly

Disagree, Disagree. About one-third of the participants, 70, Strongly Agreed/Agreed

with the item After watching violence on television, it bothers me (32.71%); close to one-

third of participants, 71, were Neutral about this item (33.18%); and 73 participants

Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (34.11%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value

of-.207 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the

dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence on

television. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear

concordance in their answers in relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for









Kendall's tau-b is relatively low, -.207, the relationship between the dependent variable

and this item is weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 34.087 with a p > of .005 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it on television has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-2. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on
television and after watching violence on television, it bothers me
Crosstabulation.
TVBother
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 0% .93% .93% 1.4% 1.4%
Disagree
Disagree .47% 1.4% 2.34% 2.8% .47%
OlderTV Neutral 2.34% 4.67% 5.61% 5.14% 2.8%
Agree 5.14% 7.48% 18.22% 10.28% 5.61%
Strongly 7.94% 3.74% 6.07% .93% 1.87%
Agree
Note. x2=34.087 DF=16 p > .005 Kendall's tau-b=-.207 p > .000

The last independent variable determined to be of significance by conducting chi-

square analysis was After watching violence on television, it makes me angry (n=209)

(Table 4-3). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to half of the participants,

100, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After watching violence on television, it

makes me angry (47.85%); 80 participants were Neutral about this item (38.28%); and 29

participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (13.88%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have

a value of -. 188 with a p > .001. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the









dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence on

television. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear

concordance in their answers in relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for

Kendall's tau-b is relatively low, -.188, the relationship between the dependent variable

and this item is weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 31.445 with a p > .012 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it on television has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-3. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence on
television and after watching violence on television, it makes me angry
Crosstabulation.
TVAngry
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly .48% 1.44% 1.91% 0% .48%
Disagree
Disagree .97% .97% 4.78% .48% .48%
OlderTV Neutral 3.83% 6.69% 7.18% 1.91% 1.44%
Agree 8.13% 10.05% 20.1% 6.22% 1.91%
Strongly 10.05% 5.26% 4.31% .48% .48%
Agree
Note. x2=31.445 DF=16 p > .012 Kendall's tau-b=-.188 p > .001

Research Question 2. To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions

affected regarding the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors through

exposure to violence in animation on television?









Hypothesis 2. Exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation has effects on

the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and

behaviors.

The purpose of this question was to determine if there is a relationship between

participants' beliefs and perceptions and exposure to animated violence. Conducting chi-

square analysis on the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to they are

seeing violence in cartoons and several independent variables indicated the presence of

some significant relationships. The first independent variable indicating a significant

relationship with the dependent variable was My favorite type of television program is

funny (n=212) (Table 4-4). Participants' responses were broken down into three

categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. About two-

thirds of the participants, 135, Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item My favorite type of

television program is funny (63.68%); more than one-fourth of the participants, 59, were

Neutral about this item (27.83%); and 18 participants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed

(8.49%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .180 with a p > .002. This

indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets,

the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons. Participants who Strongly

Agree/Agree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to

the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is relatively low, .180, the

relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 45.383 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research









hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-4. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in
cartoons and my favorite type of television program is funny Crosstabulation.
FavTVFunny
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 1.89% .47% 2.83% 2.36% 1.42%
Disagree
Disagree 0% 1.42% 4.72% 5.19% 4.25%
OlderCartoons Neutral .47% 1.42% 9.91% 5.19% 12.26%
Agree .94% 1.42% 6.6% 12.26% 9.43%
Strongly 0% .47% 3.77% 1.42% 9.91%
Agree
Note. x2=45.383 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.180 p > .002

The second independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was Boys are more affected by cartoon violence (n=211) (Table 4-5).

Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree,

Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than one-fourth of the participants, 60,

Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item Boys are more affected by cartoon violence

(28.44%); 90 participants were Neutral about this item (42.65%); and 61 participants

Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (28.91%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value

of .209 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent

variable The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons.

Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance

in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is relatively low, .209, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item

is weak.









The chi-square value for this item is 30.304 with a p > .016 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-5. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in
cartoons and boys are more affected by cartoon violence Crosstabulation.
BoysCartoon
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 1.89% 2.84 % 1.89% 1.89% %
Disagree
Disagree .95% 5.21% 6.64% 2.37% %
OlderCartoons Neutral 2.84% 6.16% 13.27% 4.74% 1.89%
Agree 3.32% 3.79% 14.69% 6.64% 2.37%
Strongly .95% .95% 6.13% 3.32% 4.27%
Agree
Note. x2=30.304 DF=16 p > .016 Kendall's tau-b=.209 p > .000

Another independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable is Violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show (n=106)

(Table 4-6). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Only 11 participants Strongly

Agreed/Agreed with the item Violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show

(10.38%); about one-third of participants, 32, were Neutral about this item (30.19%); and

more than half of the participants, 63, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (59.43%).

Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .290 with a p > .000. This indicates

there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more

used to they are seeing violence in cartoons. Participants who Strongly









Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with

relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is relatively low,

.290, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 30.696 with a p > .015 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-6. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in
cartoons and violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show
Crosstabulation.
ViolenceUnpunished
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 5.66% .94% 0% 0% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 6.6% 5.66% .94% .94% 0%
OlderCartoons Neutral 9.43% 9.43% 11.32% 2.83% 0%
Agree 8.49% 8.49% 10.38% 3.77% 0%
Strongly 2.83% 1.89% 7.55% .94% 1.89%
Agree
Note. x2=30.696 DF=16 p> .015 Kendall's tau-b=.290 p > .000

The last independent variable indicating a relationship with the dependent variable

is I like cartoon violence (n=107) (Table 4-7). Participants' responses were broken down

into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree.

Only 16 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item I like cartoon violence

(14.959%); more than one-fourth of the participants, 31, were Neutral about this item

(28.97%); and more than half of the participants, 60, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed

(50.07%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .210 with a p > .018. This









indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older one gets,

the more used to they are seeing violence in cartoons. Participants who Strongly

Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with

relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is relatively low,

.210, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 27.594 with a p > .035 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation has

effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes

and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-7. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in
cartoons and I like cartoon violence Crosstabulation.
LikeViolence
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 4.67% 0% 0% .93% .93%
Disagree
Disagree 10.28% .93% 1.87% .93% 0%
OlderCartoons Neutral 11.21% 6.54% 14.95% .93% 0%
Agree 10.28% 4.67% 9.35% 2.8% 3.74%
Strongly 5.61% 1.87% 2.8% .93% 3.74%
Agree
Note. x2=27.594 DF=16 p > .035 Kendall's tau-b=.210 p > .018

Research question 3. To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions

affected regarding the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors through

exposure to violence by viewing it in animation in The Simpsons?









Hypothesis 3. Exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The

Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors.

The purpose of this question was to determine if there is a relationship between

participants' beliefs and perceptions and exposure to animated violence in The Simpsons.

By conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable After I watch violence on

The Simpsons, I become ua,,.,i.'\\i'et and several independent variables indicated the

presence of some significant relationships. The first independent variable indicating a

significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on The

Simpsons, I feel angry (n=69) (Table 4-8). Participants' responses were broken down

into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree.

Close to three-fourths of participants, 50, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item

After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry (72.46%); about one-fourth of the

participants, 16, were Neutral on this item (23.19%); and 3 respondents Strongly

Agreed/Agreed (4.35%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .445 with a p

> .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable After I

watch violence on The Simpsons, I become aqi e \\i'e Participants who Strongly

Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with

relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is moderately

high, .445, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is strong.

The chi-square value for this item is 74.362 with a p > .000 and 12 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research









hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The

Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-8. Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive
and after I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become angry Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsAngry
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 42.03% 13.04% 10.15% 1.45% 1.45%
Disagree
Disagree 0% 13.04% 1.45% 0% 0%
Simpsons Neutral 2.89% 1.45% 11.59% 0% 0%
Aggressive
Agree 0% 0% 0% 0% 1.45%
Note. x2=74.362 DF=12 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.445 p > .000

The second independent variable indicating a very significant relationship with the

dependent variable was .hl,,i /l after I see violence on The Simpsons, I become violent

(n=70) (Table 4-9). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories:

Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than three-

fourths of participants, 60, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item .\hi ily after I see

violence on The Simpsons I become violent (85.71%); 9 participants were Neutral on this

item (12.86%); and 1 respondent Strongly Agreed/Agreed (1.43%). Kendall's tau-b was

determined to have a value of .846 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical

correlation with the dependent variable After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become

u-',.' ei'e Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear

concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for

Kendall's tau-b is extremely high, .846, the relationship between the dependent variable

and this item is very strong.









The chi-square value for this item is 161.034 with a p > .000 and 9 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 9 DF is 16.92. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The

Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-9. Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive
and shortly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent
Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsViolent
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree
Disagree
Strongly 67.14% 0% 0% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 4.29% 10% 0% 0%
Simpsons Neutral 2.86% 1.43% 12.86% 0%
Aggressive
Agree 0% 0% 0% 1.43%
Note. x2=161.034 DF=9 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.846 p > .000

The next independent variable with significant relationship with the dependent

variable was Violence on The Simpsons is realistic (n=70) (Table 4-10). Participants'

responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and

Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than three-fourths of participants, 54, Strongly

Disagreed/Disagreed with the item Violence on The Simpsons is realistic (77.14%); 12

participants were Neutral on this item (17.14%); and 4 participants Strongly

Agreed/Agreed (5.41%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .387 with a p

> .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable After I

watch violence on The Simpsons, I become a-,i ei\\i'e Participants who Strongly

Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with









relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is moderate, .387,

the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is slightly strong.

The chi-square value for this item is 26.264 with a p > .010 and 12 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The

Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-10. Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive
and violence on The Simpsons is realistic Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsRealistic
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 41.43% 17.14% 7.14% 1.43% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 2.86% 7.14% 2.86% 1.43% 0%
Simpsons Neutral 4.29% 4.29% 5.71% 0% 2.86%
Aggressive
Agree 0% 0% 1.43% 0% 0%
Note. x2=26.264 DF=12 p > .010 Kendall's tau-b=.387 p > .000

The final independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me (n=70)

(Table 4-11). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to half of the participants,

32, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item When I see violence on The Simpsons, it

bothers me (45.71%); 16 participants were Neutral on this item (22.86%); and 12

participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (17.14%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have

a value of -.293 with a p > .004. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the

dependent variable After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become a,,i i'e









Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance

in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is slightly moderate, -.293, the relationship between the dependent variable and this

item is not too weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 41.080 with a p > .000 and 12 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' exposure to violent content by viewing it in animation in The

Simpsons has effects on the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors, is rejected.

Table 4-11. Comparison of after I watch violence on The Simpsons I become aggressive
and when I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsBother
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 35.71% 12.86% 11.43% 4.29% 2.86%
Disagree
Disagree 1.43% 4.29% 1.43% 5.71% 1.43%
Simpsons Neutral 5.71% 0% 10% 1.43% 0%
Aggressive
Agree 0% 0% 0% 0% 1.43%
Note. x2=41.080 DF=12 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=-.293 p > .004

Secondary Research Questions

Research Question 1. Do adolescents perceive that violence portrayed on

television produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world?

Hypothesis 1. Adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on

television produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world.

The purpose of this question is to determine participants' perceptions of violence in

the real world. By conducting chi-square analysis on the dependent variable The older I









get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-life and several independent variables

indicated the presence of some significant relationships. The first independent variable

indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was The older Iget, the

more Iget used to experiencing violence (n=212) (Tables 4-12). Participants' responses

were broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly

Disagree, Disagree. About one-fourth of the participants, 52, Strongly Agreed/Agreed

with the item The older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence (24.53%);

more than one-fourth of the participants,58, were Neutral on this item (27.36%); and

close to one-half of the participants, 102, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (48.11%).

Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .510 with a p > .000. This indicates

there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older Iget, the more Iget

used to seeing violence in real-life. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with

this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent

variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is high, .510, the relationship between the

dependent variable and this item is strong.

The chi-square value for this item is 152.269 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on television

produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected.









Table 4-12. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-
life and the older I get, the more I get used to experiencing violence
Crosstabulation.
OlderExperience
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 9.43% .94% .47% 0% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 8.49% 9.43 % 1.42% .94% 0%
OlderLife Neutral 3.3% 2.83% 11.79% 1.89% 1.42%
Agree 2.83% 8.02% 9.43% 9.91% 1.42%
Strongly 1.42% 1.42% 4.25% 2.8% 6.13%
Agree
Note. x2=152.269 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.510 p > .000

The second independent variable indicating a relationship with the dependent

variable was When Iget mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem (n=213)

(Table 4-13). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Only 7 participants Strongly

Agreed/Agreed with the item When I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a

problem (3.29%); 29 participants were Neutral about this item (13.62%); and more than

three-fourths of the participants, 177, participants Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed

(83.09%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .266 with a p > .000. This

indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable The older Iget, the

more I get used to seeing violence in real-life. Participants who Strongly

Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with

relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is relatively low,

.266, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 51.038 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research









hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on television

produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected.

Table 4-13. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-
life and when I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem
Crosstabulation.
MadUse
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 9.86% .94% 0% 0% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 15.96% 3.29% .47% 0% 0%
OlderLife Neutral 10.79% 3.76% 6.1% 0% .47%
Agree 20.19% 8.92% 2.82% .47% 0%
Strongly 6.1% 3.29% 4.23% 1.41% .94%
Agree
Note. x2=51.038 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.266 p > .000

The final independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was I have used ak'gi eI \\i'e actions seen on television as a way to deal

ii i/h some of my problems (n=216) (Table 4-14). Participants' responses were broken

down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree,

Disagree. Only 8 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed with the item I have used

aii, e, \\i.' actions seen on television as a way to deal ii ith some of my problems (3.7%);

24 participants were Neutral on this item (11.11%); and more than three-fourths of the

participants, 184, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed (85.19%). Kendall's tau-b was

determined to have a value of .217 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical

correlation with the dependent variable The older I get, the more Iget used to seeing

violence in real-life. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will

have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since

the value for Kendall's tau-b is low, .217, the relationship between the dependent variable

and this item is weak.









The chi-square value for this item is 52.270 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed on television

produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is rejected.

Table 4-14. Comparison of the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in real-
life and I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with
some of my problems Crosstabulation.
TVUse
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 9.72% .46% .46% 0% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 15.28% 4.63% 0% 0% 0%
OlderLife Neutral 10.19% 3.7% 6.48% 1.39% 0%
Agree 18.52% 10.65% 2.31% 0% .46%
Strongly 6.48% 5.56% 1.85% 1.39% .46%
Agree
Note. x2=52.270 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.217 p > .000

Research question 2. Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world?

Hypothesis 2. Adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world.

The purpose of this question was to determine participants' beliefs and perceptions

on their view of violence in the real world. By conducting chi-square analysis on the

dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic several independent variables

indicated the presence of some significant relationships. The first independent variable

indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was After watching

violence in a cartoon, Ifeel angry (n=65) (Table 4-15). Participants' responses were

broken down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly









Disagree, Disagree. Close to two-thirds of the participants, 40, Strongly

Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After watching violence in a cartoon, I feel angry

(61.54%); more than one-fourth of the participants, 19, were Neutral about this item

(29.23%); and 6 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (9.23%). Kendall's tau-b was

determined to have a value of .351 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical

correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic.

Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance

in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is moderate, .351, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is

slightly strong.

The chi-square value for this item is 25.681 with a p > .012 and 12 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.









Table 4-15. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after watching
violence in a cartoon, I feel angry Crosstabulation.
CartoonAngry
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree
Disagree
Strongly 23.08% 15.38% 9.23% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 4.62% 6.15% 12.31% 6.15%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 3.08% 7.69% 6.15% 0%
Agree 0% 1.54% 0% 1.54%
Strongly 0% 0% 1.54% 1.54%
Agree
Note. x2=25.681 DF=12 p > .012 Kendall's tau-b=.351 p > .000

The next independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was .sh\,i ly after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent

(n=71) (Table 4-16). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories:

Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than three-

fourths of participants, 61, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item .\/ih, ily after Isee

violence on The Simpsons I become violent (85.92%); 9 participants were Neutral on this

item (12.68%); and 1 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (1.41%). Kendall's tau-b was

determined to have a value of .455 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical

correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic.

Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance

in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is moderately high, 455, the relationship between the dependent variable and this

item is strong.

The chi-square value for this item is 41.351 with a p > .000 and 12 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research









hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.

Table 4-16. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and shortly after I see
violence on The Simpsons I become violent Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsViolent
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree
Disagree
Strongly 46.48% 0% 2.82% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 18.31% 8.45% 1.41% 0%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 8.45% 1.41% 5.63% 1.41%
Agree 1.41% 1.41% 0% 0%
Strongly 0% 0% 2.82% 0%
Agree
Note. x2=41.351 DF=12 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.455 p > .000

By conducting chi-square analysis another independent variable indicating a

significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on The

Simpsons, I become u'i .' e\\i'e (n=70) (Table 4-17). Participants' responses were broken

down into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree,

Disagree. More than three-fourths of participants, 57, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with

the item After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become u'ii ei\\~'e (81.43%); 12

participants were Neutral about this item (17.14%); and 1 participant Strongly

Agreed/Agreed (1.43%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .387 with a p

> .000. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable

Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with

this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent

variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is moderate, 387, the relationship between

the dependent variable and this item is slightly strong.









The chi-square value for this item is 26.264 with a p > .010 and 12 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 12 DF is 21.03. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.

Table 4-17. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch
violence on The Simpsons, I become aggressive Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsAggressive
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree
Disagree
Strongly 41.43% 2.86% 4.29% 0%
Disagree
Disagree 17.14% 7.14% 4.29% 0%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 7.14% 2.86% 5.71% 1.43%
Agree 1.43% 1.43% 0% 0%
Strongly 0% 0% 2.86% 0%
Agree
Note. x2=26.264 DF=12 p > .010 Kendall's tau-b=.387 p > .000

Another independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry (n=70)

(Table 4-18). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to three-fourths of

participants, 51, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After I watch violence on

The Simpsons, I feel angry (72.86%); 16 participants were Neutral about this item

(22.86%); and 3 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (4.29%). Kendall's tau-b was

determined to have a value of .441 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical

correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic.

Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance









in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is moderately high, 441, the relationship between the dependent variable and this

item is strong.

The chi-square value for this item is 63.245 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.

Table 4-18. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch
violence on The Simpsons, I feel angry Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsAngry
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 34.29% 8.57% 5.71% 0% 1.43%
Disagree
Disagree 7.14% 14.29% 5.71% 0% 0%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 4.29% 2.86% 8.57% 0% 1.43%
Agree 0% 1.43% 0% 1.43% 0%
Strongly 0% 0% 2.86% 0% 0%
Agree
Note. x2=63.245 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.441 p > .000

By conducting chi-square analysis another independent variable indicating a

significant relationship with the dependent variable was After I watch violence on The

Simpsons, I feel calm (n=70) (Table 4-19). Participants' responses were broken down

into three categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree.

More than half of the participants, 37, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item After I

watching violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm (52.86%); more than one-third of

participants, 26, were Neutral about this item (37.14%); and 7 participants Strongly









Agreed/Agreed (10%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to have a value of .306 with a p

> .001. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with the dependent variable

Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with

this item will have linear concordance in their answers with relation to the dependent

variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is low, .306, the relationship between the

dependent variable and this item is moderately weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 37.449 with a p > .002 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.

Table 4-19. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch
violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsCalm
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 21.43% 10% 17.14% 0% 1.43%
Disagree
Disagree 2.86% 11.43% 7.14% 5.71% 0%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 0% 2.86% 11.43% 0% 2.86%
Agree 0% 2.86% 0% 0% 0%
Strongly 0% 1.43% 1.43% 0% 0%
Agree
Note. x2=37.449 DF=16 p > .002 Kendall's tau-b=.306 p > .001

The next independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me (n=71)

(Table 4-20). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than half of the









participants, 43, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item When I see violence on The

Simpsons, it bothers me (60.56%); 16 participants were Neutral on this item (22.54%);

and 12 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (4.19%). Kendall's tau-b was determined to

have a value of -.340 with a p > .002. This indicates there is a statistical correlation with

the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. Participants who Strongly

Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance in their answers with

relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's tau-b is low, --.340, the

relationship between the dependent variable and this item is moderately weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 31.556 with a p > .011 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.

Table 4-20. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch
violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsBother
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 29.58% 8.45% 7.04% 1.41% 2.82%
Disagree
Disagree 7.04% 8.45% 9.86% 2.82% 0%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 5.63% 0% 5.63% 4.23% 1.41%
Agree 0% 0% 0% 1.41% 1.41%
Strongly 1.41% 0% 0% 1.41% 0%
Agree
Note. x2=31.556 DF=16 p> .011 Kendall's tau-b=-.340 p > .002

The final independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was When I see violence on The Simpsons, I look away (n=71) (Table









4-21). Participants' responses were broken down into three categories: Strongly

Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. Close to two-thirds of the

participants, 46, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item when I see violence on The

Simpsons, I look away (64.79%); one-fourth of the participants, 18, were Neutral about

this item (25.35%); and 7 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (9.86%). Kendall's tau-b

was determined to have a value of -.320 with a p > .003. This indicates there is a

statistical correlation with the dependent variable Violence on The Simpsons is realistic.

Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance

in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is low, --.320, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is

moderately weak.

The chi-square value for this item is 32.647 with a p > .008 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' beliefs and perceptions of the violence portrayed in

animation/The Simpsons produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, is

rejected.

Table 4-21. Comparison of violence on The Simpsons is realistic and after I watch
violence on The Simpsons, I look away Crosstabulation.
SimpsonsLook
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 28.17% 9.86% 7.04% 1.41% 2.82%
Disagree
Disagree 5.64% 14.08% 7.04% 1.41% 0%
SimpsonsRealistic Neutral 4.23% 1.41% 8.45% 1.41% 1.41%
Agree 0% 0% 2.82% 0% 0%
Strongly 1.41% 0% 0% 1.41% 0%
Agree









Note. x2=32.647 DF=16 p > .008 Kendall's tau-b=-.320 p > .003

Research question 3. Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed on The

Simpsons is justified?

Hypothesis 3. Adolescents perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons to be

justified.

The purpose of this question was to determine participants' beliefs and perceptions

on the justification of violence on The Simpsons. By conducting chi-square analysis on

the dependent variable I think violence isjustified on The Simpsons, an independent

variable indicated the presence of some significant relationships. The independent

variable indicating a significant relationship with the dependent variable was I think it is

acceptablefor my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her

problems (n=69) (Table 4-22). Participants' responses were broken down into three

categories: Strongly Agree/Agree, Neutral, and Strongly Disagree, Disagree. More than

half of the participants, 41, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item I think it is

acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her

problems (59.42%); about one-third of the participants, 22, were Neutral on this item

(31.88%); and 6 participants Strongly Agreed/Agreed (8.69%). Kendall's tau-b was

determined to have a value of .594 with a p > .000. This indicates there is a statistical

correlation with the dependent variable I think violence isjustified on The Simpsons.

Participants who Strongly Disagree/Disagree with this item will have linear concordance

in their answers with relation to the dependent variable. Since the value for Kendall's

tau-b is high, .594, the relationship between the dependent variable and this item is

strong.









The chi-square value for this item is 55.210 with a p > .000 and 16 DF. The chi-

square value at the 95th percentile with 16 DF is 26.30. Since the computed chi-square

value is greater than the chi-square value in the table of distribution, the research

hypothesis, adolescents' perceive the violence portrayed in The Simpsons to be justified,

is rejected.

Table 4-22. Comparison of I think violence is justified on The Simpsons and I think it is
acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve
his/her problems Crosstabulation
SimpsonsSolve
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Disagree Agree
Strongly 34.78% 2.89% 2.89% 0% 1.45%
Disagree
Disagree 5.79% 7.25% 1.45% 1.45% 1.45%
SimpsonsJustified Neutral 4.35% 4.35% 21.74% 1.45% 1.45%
Agree 0% 0% 4.35% 0% 0%
Strongly 0% 0% 1.45% 0% 1.45%
Agree
Note. x2=55.210 DF=16 p > .000 Kendall's tau-b=.594 p > .000

Other Significant Findings

Spearman's Rank Order Correlation (rho) is used to calculate the strength of the

relationship between two continuous variables. Several scale scores were created from

various items to compare adolescents' beliefs and perceptions on various forms of

violence. Two scales were determined to have significance correlations coefficients. The

first scale is the cartoon violence scale, which produced a mean score for adolescents'

beliefs and perceptions on the effects of cartoon violence. The cartoon violence scale

was determined to have a Spearman's rho correlation coefficient of .311 when compared

to the dependent variable, the older I get, the more I get used to seeing violence in

cartoons. Although this is not a strong correlation, it can still be determined that if an

adolescent has a high cartoon violence scale score, there is a positive correlation with the









dependent variable. The second scale is the unrealistic view of violence scale, which

produced a mean score for adolescents' beliefs and perceptions on the effects of violence

creating an unrealistic view of violence in the real world. The unrealistic view of

violence scale was determined to have a Spearman's rho correlation coefficient of .492

when compared to the dependent variable, the older I get, the more I get used to seeing

violence in real-life. This is considered to be a moderately positive correlation with the

dependent variable, therefore, if an adolescent has a high unrealistic view of violence

scale score, there will be a positive correlation with the dependent variable.

Summary

This chapter provided information on the results related to the primary and

secondary research questions stated in Chapter 1. The following chapter will discuss in-

depth the results related to the primary and secondary research questions.














CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

This study was designed to examine the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents on

whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in adolescents'

abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, as well as the effects humor and

satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons have on adolescents' abilities

to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors. This study also explored to what extent the

violence portrayed in The Simpsons is believed to be realistic and justified by adolescents

viewing the show. Lastly, the study examined whether there are differences in adolescent

perceptions of violence in The Simpsons content by gender and age.

Primary Research Questions

* To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the
learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence by
viewing it on television?

* To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the
learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence in
animation on television?

* To what extent are adolescents' beliefs and perceptions affected regarding the
learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence by
viewing it in animation in The Simpsons?

Secondary Research Questions

1. Do adolescents perceive that violence portrayed on televisions produces an
unrealistic view of violence in the real world?

* Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed in animation/The Simpsons
produces an unrealistic view of violence in the real world?









* Do adolescents perceive that the violence portrayed in The Simpsons is justified?

* Does gender play a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons?

* Does age play a role in the varying perceptions of violence in The Simpsons?

Chi-square analyses were used to analyze and answer each of these research

questions. The group of interest used to analyze the research questions was only those

participants who responded positively to watching television (N=218).

Television Viewing Habits

In order to get a better perception of participants' television viewing habits, the

survey contained items to determine their habits. After participants answered positively

to whether or not they watch television (N=218), participants were asked to approximate

how many hours of television they watch on an average day. Most participants reported

that they watched an average of two hours of television per day. This amount of

television viewing is slightly less than the national average. The average child watches

more than two and one-half hours of television per day; while one out of every six

children watches more than five hours of television a day (Roberts et al., 1999). In this

study, only 18 participants responded they watch 5 hours of television on an average day.

Over half of all children have a television in their bedroom (Kinderstart, 2000), which

was also observed in this study.

Viewing Violence on Television

In order to determine what extent adolescents' beliefs and perceptions are affected

regarding the learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence

by viewing it on television, chi-square analysis was conducted on several independent

variables. Three independent variables were determined to have significant relationships

with the dependent variable. Close to half of the participants, 95, Strongly









Agreed/Agreed with the item Boys are more affected by television violence (44.61%).

Participants' responses have a linear concordance with the items which state After

watching violence on television, it bothers me and After watching violence on television

makes me angry, and the dependent variable. This study can conclude there is a linear

concordance between participants' beliefs and perceptions with these items and

participants' beliefs and perceptions on the dependent variable; The older one gets, the

more used to they are seeing violence on television.

Viewing Violence in Animation

In order to determine what extent adolescents' beliefs and perceptions are affected

regarding the learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence

in animation chi-square analysis was conducted on several independent variables. Seven

independent variables were determined to have significant relationships with the

dependent variable; The older one gets, the more used to they are seeing violence in

cartoons. The first independent variable to have a significant relationship with the

dependent variable is My favorite type of television program is funny. Participants'

beliefs and perceptions are consistent with previous research on the seven contextual

features of animated violence which states; violence that is portrayed as humorous can

increase aggression in viewers (Baron, 1978). This study can conclude there is a linear

concordance between participants' beliefs and perceptions between this item and the

dependent variable. The next independent variable to have a significant relationship with

the dependent variable is Boys are more affected by cartoon violence with more than one-

fourth of the participants, 61, who Strongly Agreed/Agreed (28.91%). This study can

conclude there is linear concordance with participants' beliefs and perceptions that boys

are affected more as a result of viewing violence on both television and in animation.









More than one-half of the participants, 63, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the

item Violence goes unpunished in my favorite cartoon show. This is consistent with

previous research conducted by Bandura (1965) and his social learning theory and how

violence that is explicitly rewarded or that simply goes unpunished increases the risk of

imitative aggression, whereas violence that is condemned decreases the risk. The

viewing of a perpetrator by an adolescent on television committing a violent act and not

getting caught and/or punished can lead to the justification by the adolescent of

committing violent acts themselves, since the perpetrator was not punished. This study

can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants' beliefs and perceptions

with this item and the dependent variable.

Three other independent variables shown to have significant relationships with the

dependent variable deal with cues in participants' environment are: After watching

violence in a cartoon, I become violent; After watching violence in a cartoon, I become

aggi e\ive, and I have used ,-,i- e,,i'e actions seen in a cartoon as a way to deal i iih

some of my problems. This is consistent with previous research on cues in the

environment. A condition associated with aggressive thoughts and feelings progressing

into aggressive behavior are cues in the environment that remind people of media

violence they have just seen can trigger aggressive behavior (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994).

These cues help to reactivate and sustain the previously primed aggressive thoughts and

tendencies. The reactivation of these primed aggressive thoughts and tendencies leads to

the prolonging influence of the violent content in the media (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994).

Therefore, this study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants'

beliefs and perceptions regarding cues in their environment and the dependent variable.









The final independent variable to have a relationship with the dependent variable is

I like cartoon violence. More than one-half of the participants, 60, Strongly

Disagreed/Disagreed with the item I like cartoon violence. This study can conclude

participants' beliefs and perceptions regarding their preferences towards cartoon violence

has a linear concordance with the dependent variable The older one gets, the more used to

they are seeing violence in cartoons.

Viewing Violence on The Simpsons

In order to determine what extent adolescents' beliefs and perceptions are affected

regarding the learning of aggressive behavior and attitudes through exposure to violence

on The Simpsons, chi-square analysis was conducted on several independent variables.

Five independent variables were determined to have a significant relationship with the

dependent variable; After I watch violence on The Simpsons, I become agi e, \ive. As

was seen with viewing violence on television and cues in participants' environment, cues

also play an important role in the beliefs and perceptions of participants and violence on

The Simpsons. Three independent variables which are positively correlated with the

dependent variable dealing with cues are in the environment are: After I watch violence

on The Simpsons, I feel angry; When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me; and

.N/i,,l ily after I see violence The Simpsons I become violent. As was discussed earlier, the

Cognitive priming theory posits a violent stimuli in the media can activate or elicit

aggressive thoughts in a viewer. These thoughts can then "prime" other closely related

thoughts, feelings, and even motor tendencies stored in memory. For a short time after

exposure, a person is in a state of activation whereby hostile thoughts and action

tendencies are at the forefront of the mind (Jo & Berkowitz, 1994). This study can

conclude, consistent with previous research, participants' beliefs and perceptions









regarding cues in their environment have a linear concordance with the dependent

variable.

The next independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was Violence on The Simpsons is realistic. More than three-fourths of

participants, 54, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item violence on The Simpsons is

realistic (77.14%). Previous research has shown violence that seems realistic can

promote the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors among viewers (Atkin, 1983).

This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between this item and the

dependent variable.

Television Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World

In order to determine what extent adolescents' beliefs and perceptions are affected

regarding television producing an unrealistic view of violence in the real world, chi-

square analysis was conducted on several independent variables. Three independent

variables were determined to have a significant relationship with the dependent variable.

The first independent variable to have a significant relationship with the dependent

variable is The older I get, the more Iget used to seeing violence in real-life. "Media

cultivation effects" theory suggests that television influences people's perceptions of the

real world. When adolescents watch an exorbitant amount of violent content on

television they develop an exaggerated fear of being victimized and believe the world is

much more violent than it actually is. This perception of the world as a dangerous place

is known as the "mean world" syndrome (Bryant, Carveth & Brown, 1981). Participants'

beliefs and perceptions regarding the independent variable The older I get, the more I get

used to experiencing violence is consistent with previous research. Close to one-half of

the participants, 102, Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item The older Iget, the









more Iget used to experiencing violence (48.11%). This study can conclude there is a

linear concordance between participants' beliefs and perceptions regarding an unrealistic

view of violence in the real world and how age can be a factor.

The last two independent variables indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable are When I get mad at someone, I use violence to solve a problem and

I have used aggressive actions seen on television as a way to deal with some of my

problems. As was observed earlier, cues in the environment play an important role in

participants' beliefs and perceptions. This is consistent with previous research and

therefore, this study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants'

beliefs and perceptions regarding cues in their environment and their ensuing behavior as

a result of these cues.

The Simpsons Produces an Unrealistic View of Violence in the Real World

In order to determine what extent adolescents' beliefs and perceptions are affected

regarding The Simpsons producing an unrealistic view of violence in the real world chi-

square analysis was conducted on several independent variables. Six independent

variables were determined to have a significant relationship with the dependent variable;

violence on The Simpsons is realistic. These independent variables deal with

participants' beliefs and perceptions of their physical reactions both while watching and

after viewing violence on The Simpsons. The two independent variables regarding

participants' beliefs and perceptions of their physical reactions while watching The

Simpsons are: When I see violence on The Simpsons, it bothers me and When I see

violence The Simpsons, I look away. The other four independent variable regarding

participants' beliefs and perceptions of their physical reactions after watching The

Simpsons are: .hlii ily after I see violence on The Simpsons I become violent; After I









watch violence on The Simpsons, I become ,ggi e, iv'e. After I watching violence on The

Simpsons, I feel angry; and After I watching violence on The Simpsons, I feel calm.

Consistent with previous research, cues in participants' environments affect their beliefs

and perceptions regarding how viewing violence on The Simpsons produces an unrealistic

view of violence in the real world. Research has shown for aggressive thoughts and

feelings to progress into aggressive behavior, cues in the environment that remind people

of the media violence they have just seen and can trigger aggressive behavior (Jo &

Berkowitz, 1994). These cues help to reactivate and sustain the previously primed

aggressive thoughts and tendencies. The reactivation of these primed aggressive thoughts

and tendencies leads to the prolonging influence of the violent content in the media (Jo &

Berkowitz, 1994). This study can conclude there is a linear concordance between these

independent variables and the dependent variable.

Violence Portrayed on The Simpsons is Justified

In order to determine what extent adolescents' beliefs and perceptions are affected

regarding violence portrayed on The Simpsons is justified chi-square analysis was

conducted. The independent variable indicating a significant relationship with the

dependent variable was I think it is acceptable for my favorite character on The Simpsons

to use violence to solve his/her problems. Previous research has shown an attractive

perpetrator, or good-looking character, increases the risk of learning aggression.

According to Bandura's (1994) social learning theory, children as well as adults are more

likely to attend to, identify with, and learn from attractive role models than unattractive

ones. Liss and colleagues (1983) note the most obvious way to make a perpetrator

appealing is to make him or her a hero. More than half of the participants, (n=41),

Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed with the item I think it is acceptable for my favorite









character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems (59.42%). This

study can conclude there is a linear concordance between participants' beliefs and

perceptions regarding this item and the dependent variable I think it is acceptablefor my

favorite character on The Simpsons to use violence to solve his/her problems.

Summary

Overall, the findings from this study provide valuable information regarding

adolescents who attended the 2005 State 4-H Congress. It is important to emphasize the

main findings of this study regarding participants' beliefs and perceptions of adolescents

on whether or not viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in

adolescents' abilities to learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors, as well as the effects

humor and satire used on the animated television series The Simpsons. In addition, my

study has provided insight into participants' beliefs and perceptions about television

violence, unrealistic views of violence in the real world, and the justification of violence.

Limitations

The limitations associated with this present study include

Surveys were administered by floor supervisors and not me.

Design of instrumentation did not allow for viewing of media examples.

The delimitations associated with this present study include

Delimitations

All subjects could choose not to participate in the study.

Both genders were not equally represented in the study.

There was not an equal representation of ages in the study.

Results may be skewed due to small sample size.









* The population sampled is not representative of all adolescents' ages 13- to 17-
years-old in the state of Florida.

Two limitations of this study dealt with survey administration and instrumentation

design. Due to logistical constraints, floor supervisors administered surveys during the

first night of the 2005 State 4-H Congress and not me. This may have contributed to the

lower than expected response rate by male participants. Had I been present to administer

the surveys personally and not volunteer floor supervisors, perhaps the response rate

would have been higher due to my presence. In order to have gained a higher response

rate, one possible solution would be to have had participants view media examples as part

of the instrumentation. This would allow for more respondents on particular items as

well as a more recent exposure to the media.

As with all studies, there were several delimitations encountered. The first

delimitation was that all subjects could choose not to participate in the study since it was

a result of voluntary participation. This may have contributed to the total number of

respondents not being as high as possible. There was potential for close to twice as many

participants since over 420 adolescents were registered as attending the 2005 State 4-H

Congress. This could prove to be very troublesome since the sample size could be

affected. Another delimitation is that both genders might not be equally represented in

the study. An equal representation of both genders is helpful when making

generalizations about the findings of the study. In addition, the number of registered

female participants (n=199) outnumbered registered male participants (n=46) by nearly

5:1. If there were a larger representation by one gender, the comparisons made would not

be very representative.









Since this study looks at whether or not age plays a role in the varying perceptions

of violence in The Simpsons, it is necessary to have an equal representation of age

groups. If there is not a representative distribution of the sample across the age groups, it

will be difficult to make generalizations about the findings of the study across the various

age groups, unless there is a relatively large sample size for each age group.

The final delimitation is in regards to the sample population. A census of

adolescents aged 13- to 17-years old who attended the 2005 4-H Youth Congress in

Gainesville, FL was conducted. The population sampled is not representative of all

adolescents' ages 13- to 17-years-old in the state of Florida; therefore, the results cannot

be generalized to them. However, due to large sample size and cross section of age, race,

and geographic distribution, this sample may be representative of civic-minded youth in

Florida.

Implications for Practice

In order to properly curb adolescent violence, the behaviors associated with

violence need to be identified before they can escalate. These warning signs are: intense

anger, frequent loss of temper or blow-ups, extreme irritability, extreme impulsiveness,

and becoming easily frustrated (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,

2004). Parents and teachers have the ability to identify these behaviors early on. If a

parent or other adult becomes concerned about their child's behaviors, they should

arrange for a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. Early

treatment by a professional can often help to correct the problem before it begins. The

goals of treatment typically focus on helping the child to: learn how to control his/her

anger; express anger and frustrations in appropriate ways; be responsible for his/her

actions; and accept consequences (American Academy of Child and Adolescent









Psychiatry, 2004). Family conflicts, school problems, and community issues must be

discussed as well in order to fully address the whole of the problem. Research studies

have shown that much violent behavior can be decreased or even prevented if the above

risk factors are significantly reduced or eliminated. The most important factor in halting

violent behavior is focusing efforts at dramatically decreasing the exposure of

adolescents to violence in the home, community, and through the media.

Parents and teachers are not the only individuals who can identify these behaviors.

Adolescent psychiatrists, pediatricians and other physicians can play a pivotal role on

impacting the effects of adolescents' beliefs and perceptions on whether or not viewing

violence on television contributes to an increase in their abilities to learn aggressive

attitudes and behaviors. The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a list of

recommendations to address television violence. It suggests physician's talk openly with

parents about the nature and extent of viewing patterns in their homes. Parents should

limit television use to 1-2 hours daily and watch programs with their children. This will

allow them to address any objectionable material seen and stop the use immediately if

necessary.

Physicians should make parents and schools knowledgeable about media. They

should understand the risks of exposure to violence and teach adolescents how to

interpret what they see on television and in the movies, including the intent and content

of commercials. By doing so, adolescents may be increasingly able to discern which

media messages are suitable. Physicians, in their role as health promoters, should

become more active in educating media to become more sensitive to the impact of

violence on youth. Programming decisions need to be made with the potential









consequences to the viewing audience in mind, and that when violence is present, there

are adequate warnings provided to the public.

Governmental agencies have set forth policy and laws to limit the use of violent

television content by adolescents. The Federal Trade Commission has outlined some

recommendations to help in decreasing the marketing of violent television content to

adolescents. They feel the entertainment industries should establish or expand codes that

prohibit target marketing to kids of adult-rated material and impose sanctions for

violations of these codes (Federal Trade Commission, 2000). Not only do the

entertainment industries need to stop marketing adult-rated material to adolescents, but

retailers need to observe and enforce the ratings set forth by the industries. Of the 44

movies rate R for violence reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, 80% were

marketed to children under 17 and of 118 electronic video games rated Mature for

violence, 70% targeted adolescents (Federal Trade Commission). According to a Federal

Trade Commission report, just under half of movie theaters surveyed admit children aged

13- to 16-years-old to R-rated films when not accompanied by an adult, and kids the

same age were able to purchase M rated electronic video games 85% of the time (Federal

Trade Commission).

The National Television Violence Study and the UCLA Television Violence

Report have also outlined some recommendations to the entertainment industries in

regards to the portrayal of violence on television and in movies. Entertainment industries

should produce more programs that do not rely upon violence as a plot device and

incorporate anti-violence themes when violence is used (Children Now, 1998). There

should be an increase in the depiction of punishment for violent acts and show the









alternatives to violence for resolving conflicts. The implication of justified violence

should be avoided. Both the negative short-term and long-term consequences of violence

for victims, aggressors and their families need to be addressed (Children Now).

Entertainment industries need to take into consideration viewing times of adolescents and

schedule programs with violent themes in late prime time.

The Telecommunication Act of 1996 helped to establish a ratings system developed

by the television industry in collaboration with child advocacy organizations (Federman,

1997).

The rating system is as follows:

TVY: All Children

TVY7: Directed to Older Children

TVG: General Audience

TTVPG: Parental Guidance Suggested

TV14: Parents Strongly Cautioned

TVMA: Mature Audience Only

The categories for rating are based on a combination of age related and content

factors. These ratings are a system parents can base their decisions on what is appropriate

for their children to watch.

The major problem with any ratings system established is the inconsistency

between media. Although there may be similarities in the ratings systems of each

different medium, there is no single rating system to blanket them all. This makes it

difficult for parents to rely on a system to judge what their children should be exposed to.

With this difficulty of use, 68% of the parents of 10- to 17-year-olds do not use the









television ratings system at all (Kaiser, 1999). A majority of parents find the ratings

unreliably low. As much as 50% of television shows rated TV-14 were considered to be

inappropriate by parents for their teenagers (Walsh, 2001). The ratings systems are age

based. This assumes that parents agree with the raters on what is appropriate for their

aged child. This is certainly untrue since not all parents would consider the same

material appropriate for their child.

The creation of a general ratings system as well as observing recommendations laid

forth by professional organizations will aid parents in determining what is appropriate for

their child. Parents are truly the only ones who can determine what is appropriate for

their child. Even if a blanket ratings system is created, there is still room for user

discretion.

Recommendations for Future Research

To more fully explore the beliefs and perceptions of adolescents on whether or not

viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in adolescents' abilities to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors, future studies may be elaborated in several ways.

First, future studies on adolescents' beliefs and perceptions regarding television violence

may focus on a larger population. This would allow for the data to be analyzed in

different ways, which are not possible with a small data set, and could possibly yield

detailed and expansive results. Second, future studies may use a random sample of a

more representative population in order to increase the external validity and the ability to

generalize on a larger scale. Since this study was conducted on the beliefs and

perceptions of 13- to 17-year-olds at the 2005 State 4-H Congress, the population was not

representative of all youth in Florida 4-H and all youth in 4-H nationally. Another

recommendation for future studies would be to have participants view media examples as






89


part of the instrumentation. This would allow for a higher response rate to particular

items of the instrument as well as a more recent exposure to the media. Finally, future

studies examining factors contributing to adolescents' beliefs and perceptions on whether

or not viewing violence on television contributes to an increase in adolescents' abilities to

learn aggressive attitudes and behaviors may look at school environment. Although this

study did have an item regarding school classification, this was not a central focus of this

study.