Linder, J., & Gentile, D. (2009, May). Is the television rating system valid? Indirect, verbal, and physical aggression in programs viewed by fifth grade girls and associations with behavior. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(3), 286-297. Retrieved July 30, 2009, doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.12.013

This study had two goals: first, to examine the validity of the television rating system for assessing aggression in programs popular among girls; second, to evaluate the importance of inclusion of non-physical forms of aggression in the ratings system by examining associations between television aggression exposure and behavior. Ninety-nine fifth grade girls listed their favorite programs; 76 programs were coded for total, rewarded, and justified indirect, verbal, and physical aggression. Teachers reported participants’ aggressive and prosocial behaviors. Results indicated that the age-based ratings do not reflect the amount of total indirect and verbal aggression in programs, and there were higher levels of physical aggression and justified verbal aggression in children’s programs than in programs for general audiences, contrary to hypotheses. The industry violent content ratings identified programs with higher mean levels of physical aggression, but did not distinguish programs that contained violence from those that did not. Exposure to televised physical aggression, verbal aggression, and rewarded indirect aggression was associated with higher child aggression and decreased prosocial behavior. Implications for the validity of the industry ratings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)