Violent Media Influence on Aggression


In order to understand the aspects of the human behaviour, modern psychologists use the levels of analysis framework which is based on the idea that there are three specific levels according to which it is possible to explain the person’s behaviour. Biological, psychological, and environmental or social levels are identified in order to state that the human behaviour is a result of the biological processes, psychological changes, and social influences (Griffin 2013, p. 11-12). This literature report aims to discuss and explain the obvious and subtle effects of media violence on aggression using the levels of analysis framework as a specific lens to understand the phenomenon.

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Overview of Findings on the Effects of Media Violence on Aggression

TV shows, movies, and video games representing violence can produce different effects on individuals. According to Anderson, video games are more harmful because they require the player’s identification with the violent character. Furthermore, the active participation in the game leads to stimulating the aggressive thoughts and behaviour during a long period of time (Anderson 2004, p. 2). A player becomes involved in the violent activities which make him be concentrated and aggressive during the whole game in order to receive certain rewards. Thus, video games are harmful because of their interactive character (Media Violence Commission 2012, p. 335). In their turn, TV shows and movies which promote violence provide the significant visual stimulation for viewers whose reactions to the world become more aggressive.

The effects of media violence can be short and long term ones. Anderson focuses on such short-term effects as the immediate aggression as the reaction followed watching TV and playing (Anderson 2004, p. 3). These effects are associated with such a process as mimicry as the necessity to represent the observed violence (Media Violence Commission 2012, p. 338). Long-term effects include the further imitation of the viewed behaviours during the childhood years and adolescence as ‘normal’ reactions to the external factors (Anderson 2004, p. 2; Media Violence Commission 2012, p. 338).

There are also subtle effects of media violence which are more harmful than the actual imitation of the aggressive behaviours. The problem is in the fact that media violence changes the person’s attitude to the violence in the world, and as a result, there is the “increase in the likelihood of aggression and violence” (Anderson 2004, p. 3). Individuals not only act aggressively but they also have aggressive thoughts and feelings, while developing the cultural acceptance of aggression and violence as the normal reaction (Media Violence Commission 2012, p. 336). Significant changes in the persons’ moral evaluation and principles can be observed as subtle effects of media violence.

Levels of Analysis Framework

Biological Level of Analysis

The biological level of analysis used in psychology is related to the concrete biological or physiological explanation of the processes related to causes of the person’s behaviours. The main focus is on the physiological processes which can cause the person’s certain reactions and states (Griffin 2013, p. 242). Referring to the effects of the violent media on aggression, it is possible to explain the biological nature of the phenomenon while focusing on the neural processes. When a person watches violent scenes, his brain and neural processes can change because of the activation of definite neural centres. As a result, priming and mimicry processes are observed, and these processes cause the person’s demonstration of aggressive behaviours seen on the screen (Media Violence Commission 2012, p. 337-338). The discussed processes refer to the field of neurophysiology, and they provide the effective explanation to the person’s behaviours while concentrating on the biological level of the analysis.

Psychological Level of Analysis

The psychological level of analysis is correlated with explaining the human behaviours from the point of their psychological states, emotions, and feelings. While analysing the violent media effects with references to the psychological level, it is important to pay attention to the fact that violent games often work as motivators because of including the focus on rewards (Griffin 2013, p. 245). Stimulating the desire to win, these games also stimulate the desire to feel and act as the main character observed on the screen (Anderson 2004, p. 4). Violent TV shows and movies also cause the situation when persons become “emotionally ‘desensitized’ to the violence” (Media Violence Commission 2012, p. 339). As a result, the effects of the violent media should also be discussed from the psychological perspective in order to understand the stimuli which provoke children and adolescents to behave aggressively.

Environmental/Social Level of Analysis

The social level of analysis explains how social relationships and standards influence the person’s reactions and behaviours (Griffin 2013, p. 248). Discussing the issue of aggression at this level of analysis, it is important to note that individuals learn from the society and then demonstrate the learnt skills in the relationships. Violent media cause people learn how to refer to copycat crimes in their life (Anderson 2004, p. 11). As a result, the cultural acceptance of violence is observed, and people choose to demonstrate verbal and physical aggression in their relationships.

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The focus on the ‘levels of analysis’ framework is necessary to understand the details of the influence of media violence on aggression. This framework is useful to discuss and explain the problem from all the perspectives. Violent media influence persons significantly, and the ‘levels of analysis’ framework allows explaining the processes at three important levels.

Reference List

Anderson, C 2004, Violence in the media: its effects on children, Web.

Griffin, T 2013, Individual in society, McGraw­Hill Australia, North Ryde.

Media Violence Commission 2012, ‘Report of the media violence commission’, Aggressive Behavior, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 335­341.

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