Does media violence cause real-world aggression? Although psychologists have differing opinions regarding correlation vs. causation, most can agree that media violence is a contributing factor.
(in case link above doesn't work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx0X61jT5dw&feature=related)
Correlation vs. Causation: Through correlational designs, data has shown that children who watch violent TV shows are more aggressive than those who don't. However, this doesn't necessarily indicate a direct causation between the two. A third variable, like initial aggressiveness levels, could affect a kid's choice on whether or not to tune in to an aggressive TV show.
Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: Longitudinal designs have also shown a relationship between media violence and real-world aggression; kids who watch violent TV shows commit more crimes than kids who don't, even if their initial aggression levels are similar. But is it a direct causation? No, because longitudinal designs aren't really experiments. The kids aren't randomly selected or assigned to a particular TV show; instead, they choose which shows to watch. Also, there can be many confounding variables like lack of parental supervision and boredom with regular TV shows that might contribute to this correlation.
Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: In a field study conducted by David Phillips, it was discovered that homicide rates rose 12.5% after widely publicized boxing matches. This surprising information led people to believe that violent boxing matches caused a rise in homicide. However, psychologists realized that the relationship between these two occurrences could have been due to chance, because there are numerous other reasons why homicide rates increase.
Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: In another field study, a town without TV access (A) was compared to a town with TV access (B). Initially, town A was less aggressive than town B. However, after enabling TV access to town A, the once media-free town became more aggressive. This shows a correlation between media violence and real-world aggression, but other factors could've influenced this relationship. For instance, after this field study began, the Canadian government constructed a highway that connected town A to town B. Because town A wasn't isolated anymore, town B could have negatively influenced kids by exposing them to things like crime.
Even though there are confounding variables in the relationship between media violence and real-world aggression, many psychologists agree that media violence contributes to aggression. However, psychologists can't confirm that there's a direct causation between the two.
This relates to college students, because so many shows we watch and video games we play depict violent acts of killing each other. Just look at the top video games sold in recent years: Gears of War 3, Dead Space 2, Twisted Medal, Halo Reach and many more. It's good to know that other factors affect the relationship between media violence and real-world aggression, because otherwise most people would become violent.
Lilienfeld textbook chapter 6