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ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters. This message is important for all consumers, but especially for parents of children and adolescents. -Dr. Craig Anderson.

We've all known for a long time that the music side of entertainment hath charms to soothe the savage beast. As if we did not already know, it appears the opposite is true as well: that music hath demons to embitter and enrage the tranquil as revealed in the press release of the American Psychological Association (APA) below. For 13 years the CAP Ministry has been trying to tell everyone of the influence of aberrant and aggressive behavior in and as entertainment. Now we have another ally.

We thank the APA for corroborating our findings and for finally agreeing with God: that He warns us in the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible that evil communications corrupts good manners [1 Cor. 15:33]. The New International Version (NIV) translators phrase it as bad company corrupts good character. Either way you look at it, the result of being exposed to "evil communications" and "bad company" in and as entertainment is not good. Aberrant and aggressive behavior in and as entertainment indeed hath demons to escalate and initiate aggressive and aberrant behavior in the observer. And we have been showing you for 13 years through our more than 1200 Entertainment Media Analysis Reports. Our methodology is described in CAP Methodology.

According to testimony by San Bernardino police detectives, Jason Lamar Harris, 20, and Amber Rose Riley, 16, admitted to killing a twenty-two-year-old man after listening to SLIPKNOT. The case is the second in the southern California county in which a murder suspect admitted to musical motivation.
Source: Al Menconi Ministries
Jonathan Lee Stephenson, 18, was arrested for an April 2nd murder of a teenage girl, allegedly citing CANNIBAL CORPSE lyrics.
Source: Al Menconi Ministries
As Harvard educated Developmental Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Dr. Karen Nelson agrees with me, any behavior observed in and as entertainment -- good or bad -- can plant behavioral templates in the observer whether acted on or not: that an implanted behavioral template can be indelible and does not have to manifest as the same behavior by which it was planted. Dr. Nelson and others agree with me also that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old adolescent to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or to fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions: that such capabilities do not typically plateau until the early twenties. Yet we embolden defiance and rebellion in our children with all manner of exponentially increasing corruptive and corrosive behaviors in and as entertainment at younger and younger ages each year (See R-13). The only exofamilial entity on this planet that more deeply and intimately saturates our children consistently from coast to coast than the entertainment industry is air. And the area of influence by music is the same as that for movies -- the attitude as shown in our finding ATTITUDE: In Perspective. Maybe the liberal left will now take heed. Do you think so? This new finding of the APA is, of course, in support of what they published in the July 2000 Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children Congressional Public Health Summit, a four agency agreement that violence in entertainment does indeed beget aggressive behavior in youth and more. We believe this to be true for any behavioral expressions observed in and as entertainment, good or bad

What better environment can there be to implant aberrant behavior templates than the popcorn-flavored, comfy chair, air conditioned, larger-than-life, social games-feeding, parent usurping world of the big screen? Maybe the environment of the sensory-depriving solitude of headphones blaring hate and aggression inside the subject's head where nothing exists but the voice in it augmented by the emotion-boiling music is equal to or even greater than the influence of the big screen? And on a side note, maybe video games are of even more severe influence than music and movies since music only lets the consumer hear aberrant behavior such as killing and movies only let the consumer watch and hear the killing while the video game lets the user do the killing? If we find enough funding, we'll let you know.

The APA and others have proven that aberrant and aggressive (hostile) behaviors in and as entertainment can nurture the same in the observer. The CAP Ministry has corroborating findings of it and is measuring it, fortifying the findings of the APA and others. Now you have all the proof you need about the negative influence of aggressive, aberrant behaviors in and as entertainment. Please take seriously what we and the APA have to say about popular entertainment.

Thomas A. Carder
CAP Ministry

Date: May 4, 2003
Contact: David Partenheimer
Public Affairs Office
(202) 336-5706

Even Humorous Violent Songs Increase Hostile Feelings

WASHINGTON - Songs with violent lyrics increase aggression related thoughts and emotions and this effect is directly related to the violence in the lyrics, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association (APA). The findings, appearing in the May issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, contradicts popular notions of positive catharsis or venting effects of listening to angry, violent music on violent thoughts and feelings.

In a series of five experiments involving over 500 college students, researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas Department of Human Services examined the effects of seven violent songs by seven artists and eight nonviolent songs by seven artists. The students listened to the songs and were given various psychological tasks to measure aggressive thoughts and feelings. One such task involved participants classifying words that can have both aggressive and nonaggressive meanings, such as rock and stick.

To control for factors not related to the content of the lyrics, the violent and nonviolent songs were sung by the same artists and were in the same musical style in three of the experiments. In the two other experiments, the researchers tested the arousal properties of the songs to make sure the violent-lyric effects were not due to differences in arousal. Also, individual personality differences related to hostility were assessed and controlled. The study also included songs with humorous lyrics to see how humor interacted with violent song lyrics and aggressive thoughts.

Results of the five experiments show that violent songs led to more aggressive interpretations of ambiguously aggressive words, increased the relative speed with which people read aggressive vs. nonaggressive words, and increased the proportion of word fragments (such as h_t) that were filled in to make aggressive words (such as hit). The violent songs increased feelings of hostility without provocation or threat, according to the authors, and this effect was not the result of differences in musical style, specific performing artist or arousal properties of the songs. Even the humorous violent songs increased aggressive thoughts.

The violent-song increases in aggressive thoughts and feelings have implications for real world violence, according to lead researcher Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. of Iowa State University. "Aggressive thoughts can influence perceptions of ongoing social interactions, coloring them with an aggressive tint. Such aggression-biased interpretations can, in turn, instigate a more aggressive response -verbal or physical - than would have been emitted in a nonbiased state, thus provoking an aggressive escalatory spiral of antisocial exchanges," said Dr. Anderson.

The study investigated precursors to aggression rather than aggressive behavior itself. More research is needed, say the authors, to identify the short-term and long-term effects of violent song lyrics. Repeated exposure to violent lyrics may contribute to the development of an aggressive personality and could indirectly create a more hostile social environment, although the authors say it is possible that the effects of violent songs may last only a fairly short time.

"One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters," said Dr. Anderson. "This message is important for all consumers, but especially for parents of children and adolescents."

Article: "Exposure to Violent Media: The Effects of Songs With Violent Lyrics on Aggressive Thoughts and Feelings," Craig A. Anderson and Nicholas L. Carnagey, Iowa State University and Janie Eubanks, Texas Department of Human Services; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 84, No. 5.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office.

Lead author Craig Anderson, Ph.D., can be reached at (515) 294-0283 or by Email.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

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Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.

ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture

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Since January 2001