Introduction Violence and terror have long been major themes of mythology, drama, literature, and popular culture. Concern about their role in public life, especially in regard to children, crime, and social control is more recent. Much of the controversy about violence and terror revolves around how to define them and how to test theories about them. Historical perspectives provided by Cater & Strickland (322), Rubinstein (214), Rowland (581) and others demonstrate that definitions, theories, and research on violence and terror have both scientific and political implications. Reliable observation and systematic analysis usually require limited and objective definitions. Most research studies have defined media violence as the depiction of overt physical action that hurts or kills or threatens to do so. A terroristic act is typically defined as one involving violence by, among, or against states or other authorities in order to spread fear and to make a statement, usually political. Media violence and terror are closely related. They depict social relationships and the use of force to control, dominate, provoke, or annihilate. By demonstrating who can get away with what against whom, factual and fictional representations of violence or terror can intimidate people provoke resistance, aggression, or repression and cultivate a sense of relative strength and vulnerability as they portray the social "pecking order." OVERVIEW OF THE STUDIES Violence and Mass Media Content Since the 1930s studies of crime, violence, and group conflict in the media have been conducted by the thousands and summarized by the hundreds in conferences, symposia, and published volumes. Most of that research has been done in the United States where both media penetration and communications research (fueled by both commercial and social concerns) made its most rapid and early advance. Two comprehensive dissertations, one by Barcus (16) and the other by Goodrich (111) summarized and analyzed early media content studies. These analyses revealed two patterns that endure today: males outnumber females by at least two or three to one in all major media and a predominance of violence. xi
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