Media violence and the American public. Scientific facts versus media misinformation

Am Psychol. Jun-Jul 2001;56(6-7):477-89. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.56.6-7.477.


Fifty years of news coverage on the link between media violence and aggression have left the U.S. public confused. Typical news articles pit researchers and child advocates against entertainment industry representatives, frequently giving equal weight to the arguments of both sides. A comparison of news reports and scientific knowledge about media effects reveals a disturbing discontinuity: Over the past 50 years, the average news report has changed from claims of a weak link to a moderate link and then back to a weak link between media violence and aggression. However, since 1975, the scientific confidence and statistical magnitude of this link have been clearly positive and have consistently increased over time. Reasons for this discontinuity between news reports and the actual state of scientific knowledge include the vested interests of the news, a misapplied fairness doctrine in news reporting, and the failure of the research community to effectively argue the scientific case.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Crime / psychology
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Journalism
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research
  • Television*
  • United States
  • Violence* / psychology
  • Violence* / statistics & numerical data