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Television and Violent Criminal Behavior: Beyond the Bobo Doll

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This study builds on the research concerning television viewing and aggression by extending the external validity, or generalizability, of the dependent variable. We assess the relationship between self-reported television viewing at 8, 10, and 12 years of age and the subsequent commission of a violent criminal act. This study is based on interview data from 48 males incarcerated for violent crimes and 45 nonincarcerated, nonviolent males matched on age, race, and neighborhood of residence during adolescence. Results show that the extent of a respondent's reported television viewing was not, in and of itself, predictive of violent criminal acts. Instead, it was the interaction of heavy doses of television viewing and exposure to either maternal or paternal abuse that related to violent crime. These findings support the efforts of some recent scholars in their attempts to understand why television has a negative effect on only some viewers. The results are discussed in light of the cognitive formulations of neoassociationism, encoding specificity, and the double-dose effect.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: Loyola University of Chicago, Dept. of Psychology. 2: University of Minnesota, Dept. of Sociology.

Publication date: January 1, 1986

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