Weapons and Aggression 1Weapons and Aggression by Edgardo Donovan RES 600 – Dr. Yufeng Tu Module 4 – Case Analysis Monday, December 1, 2008RES600 - Introductory Data Analysis
Weapons and Aggression 2 Weapons and Aggression In 1967, Berkowitz and LePage demonstrate that the presence of weapons (a rifle and a revolver) produced more retaliative aggression against an antagonist than did the presence of badminton rackets. These results, and several failures to repliacate them led to considerable debate about the valididty of the effect. CRAIG ANDERSON University of Missouri-Columbia, 1998 n the work titled “Does the Gun Pull the Trigger?” published by Craig Anderson in “The University of Missouri-Columbia” he unsuccessfully tries to prove that there is a positive causal correlative relationship between the presence of weapons andviolent behavior. Bryant attempts to correlate two unrelated indicators while inferring acausal attribute between them. Despite the controversial article that almost implies thatweapons operate independently, he only goes so far as to attempt to prove that thepresence of weapons influences a more confrontational prone state of mind. The level ofexperimentation he uses to prove his hypothesis with universal connotations is inadequate. In his work Anderson designs and carries out experiments where the prime stimulusin the form of a weapon or non-weapon was followed by a aggressive or non-aggressiveresponse word. The subjects were instructed to read the response words as quickly aspossible so as to allow little time for the mind to respond non-reactively. Theseexperiments only proved that the human mind will analyze and contextualize images orconcepts within their proper connotation. Anderson theorizes that this process of analysis
Weapons and Aggression 3and contextualization on-demand are examples of “primes” to aggressive behavior butoffers no analysis of his assertion beyond briefly describing a simple process model. As a theoretical basis for his thesis Anderson cites the work of previous scholarswho affirmed that images of weapons are associated with thoughts of aggression andviolence in the human mind. He states that thoughts related to aggression and violenceincrease the probability of violence occurring (Anderson, 308). Unfortunately, he doesnot provide specific context regarding this mechanism. It is very difficult to design experiments that will universally establish causalrelationships relative to human behavior. Each personality is unique and the mind is anextremely complex organism which is capable of consciously and subconsciouslyprocessing thousands of thoughts per day. In order to prove Anderson’s thesis one wouldneed accomplish the impossible task of reading a test subject minds, quantifying everysingle thought in terms of their violent connotation into a database, then monitoring thesubject’s behavior over their life to study subsequent violent outbursts. One of the problems in trying to prove a universal causal correlation is that youneed to skillfully take into consideration the totality of the related conditions affecting thetarget phenomena. Rather than attempting to quantify the totality of daily human thoughtseven at a macro-level, Anderson limits himself to executing experiments that prove thatpeople associate images of weapons with linguistic expression of a similar connotativenature. Anderson’s research model is flawed because he tries to hypothesize a causalpositive correlation between two independent variables. With independent variables a
Weapons and Aggression 4negative or positive correlation can easily be interpreted incorrectly and casualty could bemistakenly associated. Correlations should only be between dependent and independentvariables. An attempt to infer causality by correlating independent variables will corruptresearch model validity thereby destroying its predictive power. Since the manipulation of an independent variable is impractical in this case,Anderson would have been more successful if he had pursued a creational research modeldoes not necessarily establish causation (Graziano 2). He could have focused his researchto describe phenomena of a less complex, less premeditated, and more instinctual nature.The goal should have been to monitor aggressive. In work involving the General AffectiveAggression Model (GAMM) he sets out to prove that variables that increase aggressiveaffect, cognition, or arousal are positively correlated with increase fight or flight motives. Inhis later much less extravagant work titled “From Antecedent Conditions to ViolentActions: A General Affective Aggression Model” he attempts to prove how certainpsychological triggers such as pain, fear of harm, drug induced states, etc. greatly increasechances of violent behavior occurring. In his work titled “Media Violence and the American Public Scientific Facts VersusMedia Misinformation” Brad Bushman discusses the cultural bias involved in studiesconcerning media violence and aggression. Over the past fifty years, the average newsreport has changed from claims of a weak link to a moderate link and then back to a weaklink between media violence and aggression. However, since 1975, the scientific confidenceand statistical magnitude of this link have been clearly positive and have consistentlyincreased over time. Reasons for this discontinuity between news reports and the actual
Weapons and Aggression 5state of scientific knowledge include the vested interests of the news, a misapplied fairnessdoctrine in news reporting, and the failure of the research community to effectively arguethe scientific case (Bushman 1). This compounds the difficulty for researchers to maintainan unbiased level playing field when taking a position or formulating a hypothesis. It takesa great amount of scrutiny, impartiality, and independent thinking to formulate atheoretical basis for any thesis involving the social sciences with minimal amounts of bias. An additional area of concern regarding Anderson‘s research is that he attemptsto pass off conventional ideology as scholarly research thereby making the reader wonderas to the degree of cultural bias injected into his overall analysis. He asserts almost as aforegone conclusion that the weapons effect on aggressive behavior is well established anddecades of research on the effects of viewing television violence have yielded substantiallinks to subsequent aggressive behavior (Anderson 308). In the work titled “Does the Gun Pull the Trigger?” published by Craig Andersonin “The University of Missouri-Columbia” he unsuccessfully tries to prove that there is apositive causal correlative relationship between the presence of weapons and violentbehavior. Bryant attempts to correlate two unrelated indicators while inferring a causalattribute between them. Despite the controversial article that almost implies that weaponsoperate independently, he only goes so far as to attempt to prove that the presence ofweapons influences a more confrontational prone state of mind. The level ofexperimentation he uses to prove his hypothesis with universal connotations is inadequate.
Weapons and Aggression 6 BibliographyAnderson, Craig. (1998). Does the gun pull the trigger? Automatic priming effects of weaponpictures and weapon names. University of Missouri-Columbia.Anderson, Craig. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in thelaboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,78, 772-790.Bushman, B.J. (2001). Media violence and the American public: scientific facts versus mediamisinformation . American Psychologist, 56, 477-489.Lindsay, J.J. (200). From antecedent conditions to violent actions: a general affectiveaggression model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 533-547.