Author Topic: Knife stuck into violence theory  (Read 1726 times)


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Knife stuck into violence theory
« on: January 16, 2008, 01:28:15 AM »
Knife stuck into violence theory:
January 8, 2008

ARE movies such as Hannibal and the remake of Halloween, which serve up murder and mutilation as routine fare, actually making us safer?

A paper presented by two researchers at the weekend to the annual meeting of the American Economic Association challenges the conventional wisdom, concluding that violent films prevent violent crime by attracting would-be assailants and keeping them cloistered in darkened, alcohol-free environs.

Instead of fuelling up at bars and looking for trouble, potential criminals pass the time eating popcorn and watching celluloid villains slay in their stead.

"You're taking a lot of violent people off the streets and putting them inside movie theatres," said the lead author of the study, Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego. "In the short run, if you take away violent movies, you're going to increase violent crime."

Mr Dahl and the paper's other author, Stefano DellaVigna, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, attach precise numbers to their argument. Over the last decade, they said, the showing of violent films in the US had decreased assaults by an average of about 1000 a weekend, or 52,000 a year.

Crime was not just delayed until after the credits, they said. On the Monday and Tuesday after packed weekend showings of violent films, there was no spike in violent crime to compensate for the peaceful hours at the movies. Even a few weeks later, there was no resurgence, they said.

"There are hundreds of studies done by numerous research groups around the world that show that media violence exposure increases aggressive behaviour," said Craig Anderson, a psychologist and director of the Centre for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University. "People learn from every experience in life, and that learning occurs at a very basic level of brain function."

The study's authors acknowledge their research does not refute and in fact supports the findings of laboratory studies. Neither does it address the long-term effects of exposure to violent media, an influence they view as pernicious. Rather, the research uses a decade of national crime reports, cinema ratings and movie audience data to examine what has happened to rates of violent crime during and immediately after violent films are shown.