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Developmental Effects

  • By: Robert Joel Lewis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Media Violence
  • Edited by: Matthew S. Eastin
  • Subject:Mass Communication, Aggression & Violence, Violence & Society

Cognitive development can be especially important for those researchers interested in effects of media violence, because different developmental stages can lead to diverging perceptions and outcomes depending on the mental maturity of the audience. Theoretically, cognitive-developmental factors influence how depictions of violence are interpreted and perceived, and consequences of exposure depend on these perceptions. This entry discusses development’s role in shaping children’s perceptions of violent media and their ability to alter fear reactions, enjoyment of violent portrayals, acceptance of aggression, and perceptions of whether violence is justified. Theoretical mechanisms thought to explain these different effects on younger versus older audiences are also presented.

A number of studies have provided evidence that exposure to media violence can evoke fright reactions in both the short and long term. ...

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