Murray, J. P. (2012). Children and media violence: Behavioural and neurological effects of viewing violence. In W. Warburton, D. Braunstein (Eds.) , Growing up fast and furious: Reviewing the impacts of violent and sexualised media on children (pp. 34-55). Annandale, NSW Australia: The Federation Press.
(from the chapter) We know a great deal about the behavioural and attitudinal changes associated with viewing violence. Indeed, there is a long history of research on this topic, dating from the 1950s through to the present. Much of this research was focused on the impact of viewing violence on television (see Murray, 1973; Pecora et al, 2007) and, more recently, studies of video game violence (Vorderer & Bryant, 2006). The addition of studies of brain activation patterns while viewing video game violence (see Murray et al, 2006; Strenziok, et al, 2010; 2011; Wang et al, 2009) provide insights into the ways in which viewers “process” violence and enhance our understanding of the nature of video game violence effects. So, what do we know about the behavioural and neurological effects of viewing violence? Is there a basis for speculating that viewing video violence, or participating in the entertainment violence of video games, can produce neurological patterns, stored images and guides for behaviour that might increase the likelihood of violent acting-out among youngsters? Might these actions become somewhat automatic by having this aggressive repertoire frequently “triggered” by threats in the social context? Can this lead to people becoming “thoughtless vigilantes” who quickly respond to provocations with violence by leaning on the limbic system and other fast-reacting brain structures while bypassing the prefrontal cortex and rational decision-making that weighs the consequences of actions? This chapter is designed to provide a review of the long history of research on behavioural effects of violence viewing and integrate the emerging evidence from neurological studies. We begin with the early research and concerns that set the stage for investigations of media violence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)