violence, aggression, television


Throughout history people have found violence and aggression entertaining. The Romans cheered in colossal arenas as gladiators were brutally murdered. In medieval England spectators applauded as knights fought each other in jousting tournaments. Shakespearean audiences were awed with bloody and violent conclusions of plays such as Macbeth, King Lear and Hamlet. Violence in entertainment today exists in a more accessible form, with over 60 per cent of television programs containing some form (Bushman & Anderson, 2001). Psychologists have studied the effects of viewing violence on television and in the movies for the last 50 years. Early studies were criticized for failing to establish that television has a direct effect on aggressive behaviour (e.g. Howitt & Dembo, 1974), but research within the past two decades has demonstrated such an effect (Paik & Comstock, 1994; Wood et al., 1991). Most findings indicate that viewing violence influences children to become more aggressive, either in their attitudes or their actual behaviour.

Original Publication Citation

Coyne, S. M. (2004). Indirect aggression on screen: A hidden problem? The Psychologist, 17, 688-691.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



The Psychologist




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor