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Same Time, Next Year - Aggregate Analyses of the Mass Media and Violent Behavior

NCJ Number
American Sociological Review Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: (June 1985) Pages: 347-363
J N Baron; P C Reiss
Date Published
17 pages
In recent years, there have been numerous quasi-experiental studies of aggregate mortality data. These studies conclude that mass media portrayals of violence cause imitative responses among the public.
This paper examines the logic of this research, arguing that it does not meet the special burdens of proof associated with quasi-experimental studies that use aggregate data to make inferences about individual behavior. We present detailed evidence suggesting that imitation effects attributed to mass media events (prize fights and television news stories about suicides) are statistical artifacts of the mortality data, the timing of media events, and the methods employed in past research. The concluding section discusses some implications of our analysis for future studies of imitative violence and for other areas of research. (Author abstract)


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