Introduction summarize research on media violence exposure (focusing upon television) and then review the major lines of aggression research and end with a discussion of the Cultural Indicators perspective. Exposure and Perception Television viewing is a time-bound and relatively non-selective activity. Prime time, when most people watch television has very high frequencies of violent representations. Violence is, therefore, almost inescapable for the average viewer. Signorielli (230) found that program mix is such that the average viewer of network television has little opportunity to choose among different types of programming at any one t ime. Studies on the audience for and popularity of violent programs reveal that violence is unrelated to viewers' expressions of liking a program (Comstock, Chaffee, Katzman, McCombs, & Roberts, 335). Diener & DeFour (66) found no correlation between violent content and Nielsen ratings. Other content categories do not predict popularity either, and the researchers conclude that scheduling of programs is the main factor in determining preference. Finally, a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission study (35) of the Toronto television audience in "family viewing time" reveals that reruns of six-to eight-year-old situation comedies compete successfully with violent (or non-violent) action programs. Although highly aggressive males express preference for or enjoyment of violent programs, most viewers watch these programs whether they like them or not. Class, neighborhood, home, age, and sex, more than personality or individual choice, determine the amount of exposure to violence on television (Randall, Cole & Fedler, 205 Israel, Simmons, & Robinson, 149 Chaney,43). Research on how audiences perceive violence usually assumes that conscious (or at least reported) reactions to violent content might reveal something about the uses and effects of that content. Haynes (447) found that children perceive comic cartoon violence as more violent and less acceptable than "authentic" cartoon violence. Howitt & Cumberbatch (458) concluded that adults see fictional and humorous violence as less violent. Robinson's (576) study suggests that identification with a character might make the action seem more violent. Rubins (582) observed that viewers rate most programs favorably and violence has little to do with their rating. Greenberg & Gordon (423) discovered that critics rank programs by degree of violence about the same as viewers. More importantly, they found that those who are given a definition of violence will be able to perceive more violence in the programs. XV
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