Desensitization refers to a reduction of emotional or psychological response after the repeated presentation of a stimulus. Although the term emotional desensitization originated in clinical studies, it became closely associated with the criticism of media effects. Eventually, this criticism led to the rise of different theoretical approaches and opposing schools of thought. Most of these paradigms are oriented toward the study of content, although this association is not always explicit but labeled as media or effects studies. This entry discusses research regarding desensitization and media content.

Academic Approaches

Researchers, primarily in the United States and Europe, have used psychological theories to create a functionalist approach to the study of mass media. In particular, researchers have been concerned with the harmful effects of violent and/or frightening media content ...

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