Does violence affect how you think?

Arguments are starting to pop up all over the news and literary sources that violence in the media is affecting how the viewer thinks and reacts in certain situations. Violence is becoming more and more common in movies, TV programming, video games, music videos and advertising. Is it possible that action-packed thrillers and crime-related games are making us think violently? Researchers say yes. Violence, and particularly violence directed at a specific gender, is invading the mind of anyone who is exposed to it. Common sources of violence are found in media directed at teens and young adults. Constantly being told that it’s okay to handle conflict in a violent manner is normalizing this audience to aggression. Aggressive tendencies are linked with many social, mental and behavioral problems that plague the youth of today. In the past decade, a number of schools have been terrorized by students who were influenced by video games and music to shoot and kill people in order to resolve problems. The Columbine shootings were claimed to have been directly influenced by violence in the media. There are ongoing studies about the relationship between the media and violence, and though some people deny being influenced by what they see and hear, others understand the effects of brutality. Lorelle Gruenhagen, a communications major concentrating in public relations, said, “Every time I watch any gangster or mobster movie, afterwards I have an extremely strong urge to be violent. Maybe go beat someone up or shoot a person. It’s crazy.” Gruenhagen isn’t alone in this mindset. When exiting a theater after just having seen an action flick, comments can be heard from both sexes and any age group about wanting to react in an aggressive way.By making violence appear normal and with few or no consequences, the media approaches human cruelty in an almost attractive way. It seems that the more the viewer is exposed to violent behavior, the more likely the viewer is to react violently in a conflict.

Source: Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture by Julia T. Wood (6th ed., 2005)