Williams, T. M., Zabrack, M. L., & Joy, L. A. (1982). The portrayal of aggression on north American television. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 12 (5), 360-380.

Abstract:  Conducted detailed content analyses of the portrayal of aggression on North American TV to document some of the symbolic messages in TV content and the extent to which those messages vary according to program category. The TV sample analyzed consisted of 109 programs chosen on the basis of audience viewing figures; 76% were produced in the US and 22% in Canada. An average of 9 acts of physical aggression and 7.8 acts of verbal aggression per program hour were observed, but both type and rate of aggression varied by program category. Other methods of conflict resolution occurred rarely, and few witnesses sought alternatives to aggression. Less than 2% of the aggression observed was accidental, and most (69%) was incidental to the plot. Aggression, especially verbal abuse, was often portrayed as humorous, and there was little evidence of consequences. Some differences between Canadian and US programming are noted. The possibility of using schema theory to understand the role of TV in the development of beliefs about social reality is explored. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)