Physical Violence

Physical violence is not the only kind of aggression portrayed in the media. Sarah Coyne and John Archer (2004) found examples of indirect or relational aggression in 92% of programs on British tele- vision shows that were popular with adolescents, a rate much higher than physical aggression. Compared to physical aggressors, the indi- rect aggressors in these shows tended to be more rewarded for their aggression, and they were more likely to be female and attractive. The results of an experiment that Coyne and her colleagues (2004) conducted suggested that television exposure to indirect aggres- sion had immediate effects on adolescents’ own behavior, such as

decreasing helping behavior, evaluating others more negatively, and advocating indirect aggression in response to an ambiguous situation.

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In a series of subsequent studies, Coyne and others (2008, 2012) randomly assigned female college students to watch film clips involving physical aggression (from the movie Kill Bill), relational aggression (from the movie Mean Girls), or no aggression (from the movie What Lies Beneath). Although the different clips produced equal degrees of excitement and arousal, the clips showing either phys- ical or relational aggression led the students to become more aggressive (blasting a confederate with painful noise) and primed more relational aggression cogni- tions than did the nonaggressive clip. Coyne and others (2019) also found in a study of adolescents that exposure to relational aggression on television was associated with higher levels of relational aggression in texting one year later— but only for girls.

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