Coyne, S. (2004, December). Indirect aggression on screen: A hidden problem?. The Psychologist, 17(12). Retrieved July 17, 2009, from PsycINFO database.
Violence is not the only form of aggression in the media. Attempts to harm and manipulate others via plotting and scheming behind their backs are also major themes in entertainment throughout history. Psychologists call this covert form ‘indirect aggression’, and it can include gossiping, spreading rumours, and excluding others from the social group. It is still a common form of bullying in schools, the workplace and at home, and it can leave lifelong emotional scars on victims, especially younger females. Our study of 347 British adolescents reveals that indirectly aggressive girls viewed more indirect aggression on television than non-aggressive girls did (Coyne & Archer, in press). This finding was based on the children’s individual level of aggression as nominated by their peers, and self-reports of their favourite television programmes. It may be that after viewing rewarded gossiping, backbiting and rumour spreading, these girls are particularly likely to use this form of aggression in their own lives. It is important to educate teachers, parents and media producers about the harmful effects of indirect aggression and to teach them how to recognise and prevent the spread of this behaviour. By doing so, we can hopefully discover the effects of viewing indirect aggression on television and more importantly, how to prevent these cruel intentions from becoming a reality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved